From Rutherford Hall -- By: Barry J. York
From Rutherford Hall
President and Professor of Pastoral Theology
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary
After having classes on campus for the first week of the spring quarter, the growing Covid-19 crisis meant we had to close the doors of Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Being in Rutherford Hall without students, faculty, and most staff present brings a quiet sorrow to my heart. Theology is best done in community, and we love teaching, worshiping, and working together in close fellowship. The eerie silence of classrooms saddens me.
By God’s grace, the ministry of RPTS has still pressed on. RPTS was able to move completely online due to our many years of offering distance learning coursework. Our Educational Consultant, Aaron Sams, who services a variety of schools, said RPTS was the least of his worries because of our distance learning program. We thank the Lord for this ability.
On the last day of classes for the year, I opened the campus for any graduating senior who was able and desirous to come for one last chapel. We meditated together on Jesus’ words from John 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” Afterward, we enjoyed a reception and extended time of sharing together. Again and again, as the graduates spoke to the other students, faculty and staff, we heard a common refrain. Certainly, they expressed their thankfulness for what they learned in class. Yet what they treasured the most was experiencing Christ at RPTS. The repeated refrain they shared was that the relationships they had formed on campus with fellow students, the staff, and the professors had caused them to know Christ more deeply. As a result, Christ-like character formation and ministry approach had occurred in them.
We will continue to offer distance learning as a service to the church. Yet we remain committed to restoring campus presence and life. For RPTS exists not only to impart theological knowledge, but to see students’ lives transformed and equipped by the very gospel they are studying. The means that God has given to us to accomplish this goal is seen in the gospel itself, in that He sent His Son to be with us. Similarly, we desire students to be with us for a rich season of community so that Christ is impressed more deeply on their souls. Then, reminding them of the words of Jesus - “even so I am sending you” - we send them out in partnership with the church to their respective places of service to do the same with others.
As you read the articles contained in this issue of Reformed Presbyterian Theological Journal, you will see they contain the theological integrity balanced with the pastoral heart that is reflective of what students expe...
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