Remembering T. Hartley Hall, fifth president of UPSem


President Emeritus T. Hartley Hall IV (M.Div.’57) died Thursday, August 18 in Asheville, North Carolina. Dr. Hall served as the fifth president of Union Presbyterian Seminary (then Union Theological Seminary) from 1981-1994.

“Hartley Hall’s contributions to church, country, and theological education are significant and enduring,” said current Union Presbyterian Seminary President Brian K. Blount.  “He was a uniquely gifted leader who made a lasting impression on everyone who had the chance to know him. He will be remembered fondly and gratefully throughout the family of Union Presbyterian Seminary.”

Hall was a native of Macon, Georgia. He entered Davidson College in 1947, where he served as an ROTC commanding officer and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and the Omicron Delta Kappa leadership fraternity. He graduated from Davidson cum laude in 1951.

Shortly after, Hall served in the U.S. Army from 1951-1953 where he received a battlefield promotion to first lieutenant in Korea. He served as company commander and headquarters commandant of the 32nd Infantry Regiment and was decorated with the Silver Star and the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster.

In 1954, Hall entered Union Theological Seminary as a student. He graduated cum laude in 1957 with the Bachelor of Divinity degree. Ordained by East Hanover Presbytery in 1957, he graduated from Yale Divinity School in 1958 with the Master of Sacred Theology degree in New Testament Studies. While at Yale he served as assistant pastor of First Congregational Church, Branford, Connecticut, and later as interim pastor.

Hall has served as a campus Christian life minister in Raleigh, North Carolina; as Presbyterian chaplain at North Carolina State University; pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Lenoir, North Carolina; and pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Tyler, Texas. Prior to assuming the presidency at Union, he served as the pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Nashville, Tennessee, from 1973-1981.

He is survived by his four children and  their grandchildren.

Services to celebrate the life of T. Hartley Hall, IV will be held on Saturday, August 27 at 2 pm at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, 789 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804.

Dr. Balentine’s book awarded for outstanding title


Director of Graduate Studies and Professor of Old Testament Samuel Balentine’s latest book “Have You Considered My Servant Job? Understanding the Biblical Archetype of Patience” (University of South Carolina Press, 2015) has been selected by Choice as an “Outstanding Academic Title for 2015.”

Every year, Choice subject editors single out for recognition the most significant print and electronic works reviewed in Choice during the previous calendar year. This prestigious list of publications reflects the best in scholarly titles and attracts extraordinary attention from the academic library community.


Follow the Pathways to Learning and Leadership


Dear Friends,

Mark your calendars! In September, we will launch a new program of online and hybrid courses that will help meet the educational requirements toward leading a congregation as a Commissioned Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Our Leadership Institute is proud to offer these five-week courses which will be taught by our world-class faculty and experienced practitioners. The first course, Biblical Interpretation, led by Dr. E. Carson Brisson, begins online on Tuesday, September 6, 2016.

The Pathways to Learning and Leadership program is also available to church members seeking to increase their knowledge and discipleship.

Click here to learn more and register.

With you on the path to learning and leadership,

Marilyn Johns (M.A.C.E.’94)
Director of Program Development
The Leadership Institute at Union Presbyterian Seminary

Board Member Jonyrma Singleton in the Church Triumphant

By Helen Bessent Byrd (M.Div. ’07)

In early June, President Brian Blount shared the sad news of the death of Reverend Jonyrma Singleton of Shaker Heights, Ohio with the seminary community.  Born on December 3,1948 in Savannah, Georgia, Jonyrma an alumna (M.Div. ’88), like me credited her life experiences at Boggs Academy, a now-closed Presbyterian boarding school in Georgia, for helping her parents to shape her academic and Christian education.  Among the other institutions of higher education that she attended are Talladega College and Jacksonville State University.

Rev. Singleton transitioned into the church triumphant on June 10, 2016.  Jonyrma was the mother of two girls and grandmother of six children.  She served as campus minister and director of admissions at Barber-Scotia College as well as an associate pastor and interim pastor before arriving at in 1992 at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Cleveland, Ohio where she served as associate pastor until retirement in 2014.  A former trustee of the seminary, she served as secretary and a member of the executive committee.  Rev. Singleton received the Trailblazer Award from our BAA in 2015.  We join in thanking God for the gift of her life and the ways she blessed the lives of those who experienced her teaching, preaching and healing.

Professor Richelle B. White Authors New Book

By Helen Bessent Byrd (M.Div. ’07)

Dr. White, Associate Professor of Youth Ministries and the first African American tenured faculty member at Kuyper College in Lansing, Michigan has written a new book entitled, “Repertory with Roots – Black Youth, Black History, Black Culture, Black Music and the Bible,” (Xulon Press, 9.781498476645, $18.49).  White, whose expertise is in reaching and teaching youth and young adults, wrote this curriculum guide that offers a curricular framework to help black youth to grow in wisdom and Christian discipleship.  It is designed to foster their identity formation as unashamedly black and their faith formation as unapologetically Christian.

White, a former teacher, has hands-on experience in youth ministry.  She earned a Master of Divinity at Wesley Theological Seminary, a Master of Arts in Christian Education (2003) from Union-PSCE and a Ph.D. from Union Presbyterian Seminary.  Other books by her include, “Daughters of Imani:  Christian Rites of Passage for African American Young Women,” a guide for a comprehensive mentoring and rites of passage program for African American girls.  She also co-authored, “Daughters of Imani Bible Study for Young Women.”

Stewardship Begins in the Heart

By Helen Bessent Byrd (M.Div. ’07)

Stewardship emanates from a commitment to God who owns the earth and all that is in it (Psalm 24:1).  As recipients of God’s favor, we enjoy the bounty of the earth.  In response, as children of God, it is incumbent upon us to manage well the resources that God has made available to us and to faithfully share these treasures with others.  Jesus, said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good person brings good things out of a good treasure (Matt. 12:34b-35a NRSV).  As good stewards, members of the Black Alumni Association share our bounty by giving our time, talent, and financial treasures to aid our alma mater in its core mission, “to participate in the mission of the church by forming and equipping leaders for the work of ministry.”

Black Lives Matter! Selma!

By William R. Freeman (M.Div. ’01)

Back in 1965, most people had never heard of this small town in southern Alabama.  Selma was just another place where Jim Crow was the way of life and a racist man named Jim Clark was the sheriff. I was a young man of 26 born in the even smaller Alabama town of Standing Rock who, at the age of 8, had moved to Harlem, New York City.

As a member of a very active church, and being from Alabama, Dr. King was one of my heroes, and I tried to stay abreast of what was going on back in my home state.  One reason was because of the relatives who still lived there then, and some of whom continue live in Alabama; many of them had been “down so long” they were brainwashed into questioning the work of SCLC, SNC and even Dr. King.  They would say things like, “It’s just the way things are.”

Now, things in 1965 were totally different from 2016.  In 1965 national news was broadcast on three stations CBS, NBC and ABC, and for only one-half hour each evening.  There were no cable networks; no cell phones, and of course, no smart phones or tablets.  However, our Young Adult group made sure we kept up on the movement and I know Bloody Sunday woke up the Sleeping Giants around the country and the world.

Lastly, today, as we watch the dismantling of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, I pray that it will not take another Selma or Bloody Sunday to galvanize this country into living up to its creed that ALL MEN AND WOMEN ARE CREATED EQUAL.

Gems for your Journey: Strength for the Task

By Veronica Martin Thomas (M.Div. ’07)

The theme for this year’s Black Alumni Association Trailblazer Award was, “Strength for the Task.”  The New Testament foundation Scripture was I Peter 5:6-10 with emphasis on verse 10.  This verse assures us that after we have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace will determine what is a, “little while.”  You do know that suffering is a part of our Christian walk.  Psalm 34:19 states:  “many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”  I believe the translation that says, “the Lord delivers him out of “each one,” accentuates God’s intervention on behalf of each individual.  God of all grace is concerned about each one of our afflictions.  God of all grace will not send anyone else to rescue His children from suffering.   God of all grace will come himself to restore us.  God of all grace will mend our broken lives and make us whole.  God of all grace will support us, make us whole and support us making our way stable despite the instability we feel living in a world that inflicts suffering upon us. God of all grace will strengthen us giving us the ability to succeed in all that we do for Him.  God of all grace will establish us, building in us a firm foundation that will make up steadfast and immovable when facing attacks of our enemies.

Just remember that the God of all grace who made all flesh knows that nothing is too difficult for him.  This same God is in control of all things both in this world and throughout eternity.  Let us respond to the Word of God, “Amen.  So be it!”