Nun heading US Presbyterian Seminary fosters better church relations

By Ecumenical News International
June 29, 2009

The appointment of a Roman Catholic nun as dean of San Francisco Theological Seminary illustrates the truth of the saying "to be Reformed is to be ecumenical", says the General Secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

Peter Kenny writes: Earlier in June 2009 Elizabeth Liebert became the first Catholic sister to be named as dean of a Presbyterian seminary in the United States. San Francisco Theological Seminary is a school of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

The Rev Setri Nyomi, the general secretary of the Geneva-based WARC, told Ecumenical News International, "In April this year, while on an official visit to San Francisco Theological Seminary, I was impressed by the way in which SFTS is committed to ecumenical engagement and justice."

The WARC general secretary said, "This appointment indicates how the SFTS understands the truth of the common saying 'To be Reformed is to be ecumenical'. It will continue to strengthen the formation of a new generation of church leaders and church agents to understand the need to appreciate the gifts of all women and men from the different Christian traditions."

Liebert has spent more than two decades teaching at the 138-year-old seminary in San Anselmo, California, and she will replace the Rev. Jana Childers, who will step down on 30 June after nearly eight years as dean.

"We are particularly pleased to be attaining a historic ecumenical milestone," SFTS President Phil Butin said. "Dr Liebert's deanship is a sterling example of SFTS's thoroughgoing commitment to ecumenical theological education."

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]

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