Union Named Seminary that Changes the World


RICHMOND, VA (September 16, 2016) Union Presbyterian Seminary has been recognized as a Seminary that Changes the World, Class of 2016-17 by The Center for Faith and Service. Each year, Seminaries that Change the World identifies a select group of seminaries and divinity schools offering innovative courses, programs, and opportunities for students seeking to engage in social justice and service work while in seminary. UPSem’s recognition reflects the ongoing work the school is doing to prepare future faith leaders.

“We are pleased that the many efforts of our students, staff, and faculty, and indeed the work of the institution itself, have been recognized as we respond to God’s call to engage in and participate with the transforming work of God’s Reign in our world,” said UPSem President Brian K. Blount. “Our commitment to serving God in this way neither begins nor ends with this wonderful recognition, but we are delighted to be counted among such wonderful company.” 

UPSem’s engagement with and for the world spans a variety of programs, partnerships, and courses. The seminary is engaged with the local community as an institutional partner with Richmonders Involved to Strengthen our Communities (RISC), an initiative that brings congregations and leaders together to address root causes of injustice in the greater Richmond area. 

In the coming year, UPSem will begin a partnership with Shalom Farms which promises to create one of the largest Urban Farms in Virginia. The collaboration will help to provide food for people in food deserts in Richmond, teach basic gardening, and address theological issues around ecology and stewardship.

UPSem also has initiated a new set of course requirements designated “The Church in the World,” which includes specialized topics of study on evangelism, interfaith relations and community engagement. Course offerings include Wealth and Poverty in the Bible, Intercultural Religious Education, Sex, Money; and Politics in the Ancient Church, Urban Ministry: Surviving and Thriving.

A partnership between UPSem and The Presbytery of the James has brought Visiting Assistant Professor of Evangelism John Vest to teach academic courses in evangelism, offer training to local congregations, and begin a new spiritual formation platform called The Joyful Feast which seeks to engage those on the edge of the religious community. 

Katie Geneva Cannon, Annie Scales Rogers Professor of Christian Ethics, recently received Union Theological Seminary of New York‘s Union Medal at the 178th Commencement. That seminary’s highest award honors persons of faith whose lives reflect the mission of the seminary in the world. Cannon focuses her work in the areas of Christian ethics, womanist theology, and women in religion and society. Cannon was the first African American woman ordained in the PC (USA). 

The list of Seminaries that Change the World is published by The Center for Faith and Service, an organization that works to help seminaries, service programs, denominations and local congregations connect faith with service and social justice work. Reflecting on this year’s list, Wayne Meisel, Executive Director of The Center for Faith and Service, said “Anyone seeking to change the world ought to at least consider seminary or divinity school as an option to grow personally in one’s faith and to inspire, sustain and deepen his or her commitment to neighbor, community, country and the world. Through their commitment to collaborate, this diverse group of schools named on this year’s list of Seminaries that Change the World embody the best of faithful and justice-seeking communities.”

For more information about Seminaries that Change the World, visit www.faith3.org.

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