For some, biblical Hebrew is an impediment to studying the Old Testament. For Julián Andrés González Holguín, it was the main attraction.
“Back in my country, a pastor very dear to me said, ‘Julián, would you like to learn Hebrew?’” said González, a native of Colombia. “ He was and is a member of the society that is translating the Hebrew Bible into Spanish. I have always liked languages and learning languages. From there began the idea of doing something with the Hebrew Bible.”
Something life-changing, as it turns out.
González, who is finishing his Ph.D. at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, will join CDSP’s faculty this summer as an assistant professor of Old Testament, a joint appointment with Pacific Lutheran Seminary.
“Julián offers a fresh new voice in the world of scholarship and teaching in the context of theological education,” said the Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, CDSP’s dean and president, in announcing the appointment. “He is very integrative in his approach to studies in sacred texts, looking for contemporary analogies to the experience of God in the ancient Middle East.
“For example, he explores contemporary issues of immigration in light of Old Testament experiences of exodus and diaspora. It is a hermeneutic of lively immediacy that will bring new insight from scriptural studies.”
González’s research, publications and teaching have focused on how religious ideologies and Biblical narratives have been used to provoke and justify violence. He comes by his interest in violence through experience, he says.
“My country has been in violence since the late 1940s and early 1950s,” González says. “We have had guerilla groups since the 1950s. We haven’t been able to come to a peace agreement. Colombia is a country against itself. I have had experiences myself that have led to an interest in looking at the texts of violence in the Bible and how we interpret them, how we deal with them and how we use them nowadays.”
González has a bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Cali, and worked for four years as a software developer at Shell, before entering Truett Seminary at Baylor University in 2006 where he and his wife, Viviana Urdaneta, earned master’s degrees in divinity. Urdaneta, who also earned a master’s degree in social work at Baylor, a therapist in Dallas, is president of Latinos Against Domestic violence and the organizer of the Madrinas, a program that trains indigenous leaders to support victims of abuse.
While at Baylor, the couple volunteered at First Baptist Church. “We were involved in ministry with migrant population, especially Mexican citizens,” González said. First Baptist is a primarily white church in a predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhood. “We were trying to be a bridge between both communities,” he said.
While at First Baptist, González developed HABLA (Hablando Alrededor de la Biblia con los Amigos – Speaking around the Bible with Friends), a program in which members of the local Hispanic community and church members met to share food and read the Bible together. Through common study, they came to understand better how their life experiences and cultural assumptions shaped their understanding of scripture.
“Most of those attending were migrants,” González said. “They were happy to express their own concerns and to see Biblical texts as a means to express their concerns. But if people are not part of these marginalized communities, but from communities that perhaps benefit from the violence in our society, their reception is different. They don’t want to read it that way. It raises issues that they don’t want to deal with. It has different reception depending on the circumstances on the audience.”
González said he was moved to apply for the faculty opening at CDSP in part because of the opportunity to teach in the diverse interfaith environment of the Graduate Theological Union, and in part by a sentence on the seminary’s website which says that CDSP “integrates scholarship, reflection and worship with the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“That balance between reflection and preparation, that double emphasis is very important to me,” he said.
González is a member of the Hispanic Theological Initiative, which was founded in 1996 to support Latino and Latina students and faculty members in theological education. “In the Latino community, there many identities” he said. “There is not a single lens. I think what I can say as a Colombian is that I bring this concern about violence, and as a migrant I understand the experience of being in a place that is not yours and that is sometimes hostile but sometimes welcoming.
“Coming out of that context, I think I see myself as encouraging and supporting a Latino voice that can contribute to the understanding of these issues of migration and fellowship with the other.”
While González knows little about the Bay Area, he has already seen enough to know that it speaks to him in one particular way.
“I love hiking,” he said. “I really love that. I miss mountains. In Colombia, I used to take my bike and the mountains were three blocks from my home. Here in Texas everything is flat. So I am looking forward to hiking again.”
Tamra Tucker is an explorer.
When she was an undergraduate at the University of Oklahoma she’d occasionally just drop into her car and go for a ride, ending up in Florida or Minnesota, or Boston, which she had always admired from a far.
In August, Tucker will begin to explore Berkeley when she takes up residence at CDSP. She has been awarded her one of the seminary’s two coveted Excellence in Ministry scholarships, which include full tuition and a $1,000 stipend.
Thanks to alumni and donors who have contributed to funds through estate plans and endowed gifts, CDSP has expanded its range of scholarships and financial aid for the 2015-2016 academic year.
“I think right now CDSP is the most stable and life-giving community that there is,” says Tucker, who will soon be a postulant for Holy Orders from the Diocese of Massachusetts, and serves as the operations manager at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Boston’s Back Bay.
The admiration is mutual. “Over the years, CDSP has been fortunate to welcome excellent students from the Diocese of Massachusetts,” says the Rev. Andrew Hybl, CDSP’s director of admissions. “Tamra's energy and passion for ministry are palpable. I believe the gifts for ministry that she brings will be expanded during her time at CDSP, which will prepare her to excel in any ministry setting."
Tucker grew up in Oklahoma, a diocese that she says had a strong youth ministry program. “We were all close,” she says of participants in the program. “And our camps and chaplains were encouraging of asking difficult questions about our faith. That led many of us to discernment for the ministry.”
As an undergraduate, Tucker sang in the choir and worked as an intern at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Norman, where CDSP alumna the Rev. Twila Smith (MDiv ’14) was a lay member of the parish staff.
“I learned a lot from her about ‘finding the gap’—figuring out what services were missing in a community and then figuring out whether the church could help to provide them,” Tucker says of Smith.
Smith, now a missioner at Church of the Mediator in Allentown, Pennsylvania, says the “stirrings toward ordained ministry” were apparent in Tucker during her undergraduate years. “You don’t have to be around Tamra long to hear and see her love of God and love of the church, and her dedication to both seem to grow with each passing year,” Smith says.
After college, Tucker moved to Boston—which she “fell in love with” on one of her impromptu road trips—to participate in Life Together, a part of a national network of intentional communities for young adults called Episcopal Service Corps.
Tucker and the other interns in the “relational evangelism” branch of the program received training in community organizing and were sent out to talk with people about their needs and hopes, and to help organize the community to bring about political change. The work was not easy, Tucker says. “But I like struggle. I like working things through and going the hard way, so I enjoyed it.”
When the program ended, she found a series of jobs that allowed her to remain in Boston, and began worshiping with The Crossing, a community that convened at St. Paul’s Cathedral. “I was a co-convener, which is their version of a vestry, and was part of the leadership of the worship circle,” she says. “I loved discussing liturgical design. We’d form partnerships with churches that wanted a fresher expression of worship and work with them.”
Eighteen months ago, she began working at Emmanuel, a church that is a popular venue for concerts, weddings, 12-step meetings, and other kinds of events that keep an operations manager busy. As she made her way through the discernment process, her thoughts turned to CDSP.
“I’ve had a list of seminaries in my head for ten years since I first started to think about becoming a priest when I was 18,” she says. “And I’ve come to realize that the thing I yearned for most was a different atmosphere, a different environment than what I had been serving in, or what I had grown up in. I needed to experience as much as possible before I settle in one place.”
She’s also eager to study with CDSP’s partner schools in the Graduate Theological Union. “I like going to the source of things,” she says. “I can imagine studying at a rabbinical institute for Hebrew, studying preaching with Baptists. Even if I put my own Anglican spin on it, I can see what it is like to get that cultural perspective.”
Tucker says she is drawn to prison ministry and working among the homeless, but adds, “I think I would really love and be challenged by parish ministry. To commit your family and your life to an already-formed community, and then to be charged with leading that community in some direction, I think that is a challenge I would find very enlivening.”
Author James Carroll will give the address at CDSP’s 121st Commencement on May 22, 2015 at 10:30 am in the St. Margaret’s Courtyard. The event is open to the public and will be broadcast live online at www.cdsp.edu.
Carroll, who will be awarded an honorary doctorate, is the author of 11 novels and eight works of non-fiction and is a regular columnist for The Boston Globe. In a profile for the Spring 2015 issue of Crossings, CDSP's magazine, he said, "All of my work has been preoccupied with trying to reconcile the relationship between the Christian religion and...grotesque outbreaks of violence, especially anti-Semitism."
The Rt. Rev. Scott B. Hayashi, bishop of Utah, and the Rt. Rev. Anne Elliot Hodges-Copple, bishop suffragan of North Carolina, will also receive honorary degrees at the ceremony.
Before you all take a well-deserved break next week, I want to let you know that Professor Marion Grau has accepted the positions of professor of systematic theology and missiology at the Norwegian School of Theology and editor of the Norwegian Journal of Missiology beginning this fall.
Marion’s impressive research, which includes three books and numerous journal articles, has made substantial contributions to her field and the wider church’s understanding of systematic and constructive theology. You may know that, for the last several years, Marion has been conducting research on pilgrimage sponsored by the Norwegian Research Foundation’s Ritual and Democracy Project. Her new position will make it possible both to return to Europe full-time and to extend this important new academic work and the relationships that have developed from it. While I will be sorry to say goodbye to Marion, who has been at CDSP for fourteen years, I hope you will all join me in congratulating her on this prestigious new position.
Between now and the end of the spring semester in May, we will find opportunities to celebrate Marion’s time with us. Most immediately, I hope that you will plan to attend, in person or online, the forum on her new book, “Refiguring Theological Hermeneutics: Hermes, Trickster, Fool,” tomorrow evening at 7:45 pm. More information is available on the website.
I am glad to announce that Scott MacDougall will join us for the 2015-2016 academic year as visiting assistant professor of theology. Scott, whose MA thesis I directed at General Theological Seminary in 2007, holds a PhD in theology from Fordham University and has taught there as a teaching fellow since 2010. In addition to his first-rate academic career, Scott is also an experienced grants manager who has worked for the Rockefeller Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and other New York-based non-profit organizations. While Scott joins us in Berkeley, his husband, Michael Angelo, will remain in New York, where he is the founder and creative director of the prestigious salon Wonderland, and will visit us during the year.
The Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson
Dean and President
Iain Stanford is the new Giving Tuesday Scholar at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Dean and President W. Mark Richardson announced on Tuesday.
Stanford, a postulant to the priesthood from the Diocese of Oregon, earned a master of divinity from the University of Notre Dame, a master of theology from Harvard Divinity School and has completed coursework for doctorate of theology at Harvard. At CDSP, Stanford is enrolled in the Certificate of Anglican Studies program and will work on his dissertation.
The new Giving Tuesday scholarship, one of several new scholarships that CDSP offers for 2015-2016, was made possible by CDSP donors who participated in Giving Tuesday, an initiative that encourages people to give online on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. In 2014, CDSP’s Giving Tuesday raised more than $10,000.
“When we initiated Giving Tuesday at CDSP, an idea originating with [CDSP’s development director] Patrick Delahunt, we had no idea what to expect,” said Richardson. “It is exciting to know that the generosity of those who responded will have this kind of impact on a student's life. We’re delighted to welcome Iain to CDSP, and grateful for the generosity of the donors who made our new Giving Tuesday scholarship possible. This is just one of several new scholarships now available from CDSP, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of alumni and donors who have contributed to funds through estate plans and endowed gifts.”
Other new CDSP scholarship opportunities include the full-tuition Bishop’s Scholarships, which are given on the nomination of students’ diocesan bishops; the Presidential Scholarship, which includes tuition, room and board, meal plan and books for an exceptional leader age 35 or under; and Excellence in Ministry scholarships that include full tuition and a stipend.
For his part, Stanford is thrilled to be in Berkeley. “One of the opportunities of being a student at CDSP is I get to go and experience different communities in the area. It’s a chance for me to get to know what’s available on the West Coast. I have an ability and opportunity just to experience the breadth of what the Episcopal Church can be.”
February 25, 2015—The Rev. Bob Rybicki has joined Church Divinity School of the Pacific as director of operations and personnel management, a new position.
Rybicki is the former vice president for programs and services of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and has served as CEO of several large Bay Area nonprofits. Formerly a Roman Catholic priest who served urban congregations, Rybicki was recently received into the Episcopal Church as a priest. He holds a bachelor of arts from Loyola University in Chicago, a master of divinity from St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, and a master of arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“In the midst of transitions that are strengthening CDSP and our capacity to fulfill our mission, the board of trustees and I determined the need to separate leadership of operations and personnel management from leadership over finance,” said CDSP President Mark Richardson. “Bob brings great talent and a richness of executive-level experience to this new role. Those who know him well consistently say the same things: He is humble, he is a relationship-builder, and he is keenly focused on the goals set before him.”
Rybicki said, “It is an honor for me to be part of such a prestigious seminary. I am very excited by the new directions that CDSP is undertaking as it prepares the future leaders of the Episcopal Church to assume their place in the community. The Spirit is clearly influencing this process at CDSP and I believe our students will be effective heralds as they go out to proclaim and give witness to the Kingdom.
Carroll, who has written eleven novels and eight works of non-fiction, is a distinguished scholar in residence at Suffolk University and a columnist for The Boston Globe. He has won the National Book Award for “An American Requiem” and the Pen Galbraith Award for “House of War”.
“All of my work has been preoccupied with trying to reconcile the relationship between the Christian religion and ... grotesque outbreaks of violence, especially anti-Semitism,” says Carroll, who has been a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at the Harvard Divinity School.
In “Christ Actually”, Carroll argues that the Holocaust and the bombing of Hiroshima are evidence that humankind is capable of self-extinction. “I am recruiting a new understanding of Jesus as one mode of securing that future,” he says. “If we go on thinking of Jesus the way we have, it makes our suicide more likely.”
The Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, CDSP’s dean and president, met Carroll when the author spoke on two occasions at the Trinity Institute at Trinity Wall Street in New York City, when Richardson served as moderator of the institute’s conferences and senior theological advisor to the church.
“Each time, the seriousness with which he reflected on the topics at hand, the creativity and the depth of his reflection left a mark on all who participated,” Richardson said. “The seriousness of his faith commitment is so clear, as well as his willingness to let go when we uncover falsehood and insincerity.
“His most recent writing on Christ for our day is a demonstration of his commitment to truth seeking as a high Christian virtue. How do Christians face the aftermath of the Holocaust? What conversions and reexaminations are necessary in light of world conditions, and how is Christ good news in these conditions? James is not afraid of humble self-examination and cultural examination in the face of these questions.”
Carroll most recent novel is “Warburg in Rome,” a historical thriller set in post -war Rome.
More details about CDSP’s commencement will be available at www.cdsp.edu this spring.