Understanding Theological Education in the RCA” Examines the General Synod Professorate
While no less a figure than John Calvin called for a fourth ministerial office, the professorate, in addition to the offices of deacon, elder, and minister, the Reformed Church in America is one of the few to maintain this office of “teacher of the church” into modern times. Indeed, it is the appointment of the first General Synod Professor, John Henry Livingston in 1784, that is seen to constitute the founding of what would become New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Yet, even in the RCA, the professorate has been subject to changing fortunes and changing understandings, and there are, currently, only five actively-serving professors.
The final session of the “Understanding Theological Education in the RCA” colloquy for 2021-2022 will look at The General Synod Professorate on Tuesday, February 22, 2022 at 12:00 noon on Zoom, examining the problems and the possibilities of the office with one current occupant and two others who held the office recently.
Carol Bechtel is Professor of Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary and a graduate of Hope College and WTS with a Ph.D. from Yale University. She has published extensively, served as president of the General Synod of the RCA in 2009 and moderator of the General Synod Council in 2010, and was the first woman ordained by the Classis of Illinois in 1988. In 1998, she became the first woman professor of theology, and is now the senior member of the professorate.
Renée House is retiring at the end of December as Minister of the Old Dutch Church in Kingston, New York where she has served since March of 2013 to begin work with a non-profit organization tackling issues of affordable housing in that city. Prior to accepting the call to Old Dutch, she served on the faculty of NBTS for twenty-five years as Director of the Library, Academic Dean, and Professor of Practical Theology, and as a General Synod Professor of Theology. Renée received her M.L.S. from the University of Arizona, M.Div. from NBTS, and Ph. D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. As a minister in the RCA, she has been engaged in ministry throughout the U.S. as well as Taiwan. She is a writer, poet, singer, wife, step-mom, and grandmother to six rambunctious kids.
Leanne Van Dyk holds degrees from Calvin College (BA), Western Michigan University (MA), Calvin Theological Seminary (MDiv) and Princeton Theological Seminary (PhD). Before assuming the presidency of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, in 2015, she taught at San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and then at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, where she held the office of General Synod Professor. Her other professional experience includes serving as a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS); as a member of the Committee on Theological Education for the PC(USA); as a member of the Wabash Center’s Consultation on Theological Education; and on various projects with the Office of Theology and Worship for the Presbyterian Church (USA). She has served on the editorial boards of Perspectives, a Journal of Reformed Thought, and the Scottish Journal of Theology and has published several books.