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RPTS TO HONOR RECORD 18 GRADUATES AT COMMENCEMENT MAY 16
(Pittsburgh, Pa.) – May 14, 2008 – RPTS honored a record 18 graduates during its 197th commencement ceremony on Friday, May 16, at 7:30 p.m., at North Park Church on 600 Ingomar Rd. in Wexford, Pa. Eleven graduates received their three-year master of divinity degrees, six graduates received their two-year master of theological studies degrees, and the first person to receive the seminary’s Servant of the Church Certificate also graduated. Dr. Derek Thomas, the John Richards Professor of Practical and Systematic Theology for Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss., was the commencement speaker.
Master of Divinity (M.Div.) Graduates:
Rickey L. Anderson, Jr., of New Cumberland, W.Va., is a member of Lifeline Community Church in Gibsonia, PA – part of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) denomination, where he serves as an intern preaching once a month and writing small group lessons. He is exploring the possibility of planting an ARP church in the New Cumberland, W.Va./East Liverpool, Ohio area, where he ministers to approximately twenty people. Anderson has a paid church planting internship for the remaining months of 2008 with the ARP, and a formal church planting call, pending assessment. He and his wife, Tammy, are being sent to the Reformed Theological Seminary in Florida for training in church planting this summer. The two have three grown children and three grandchildren.
Mark A. Bolze of Mars, Pa., came with his family from Carlisle, Pa., to live with his in-laws and study. He previously was an engineer. Currently, Bolze serves as an intern at Gospel Fellowship Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in Valencia, Pa., where he assists with adult education. During his seminary studies, he also served as an intern with a ministry dedicated to educating pastors in Creation science. He will seek a call to a local congregation following graduation. Bolze and his wife, Rebekah, have three children: Rachel (15), James (14), and Leah (12).
Samuel D. DeSocio of Pittsburgh, Pa., has been serving over the last year as ministry assistant and community group leader for City Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Oakland, where he also plans to receive a call to be the assistant pastor, pending ordination. His long-term hope is to participate in church planting in Pittsburgh. He and his wife, Joanna, live in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Mark G. Dotson of Pittsburgh, Pa., is a member of The Lord’s Church in Washington, Pa., and aspires to pastoral ministry following graduation. He lives in Homewood with his thirteen-year-old son, Geoffrey.
Jefferson W. Ellis of Washington, Pa., previously ministered to college students at both Youngstown State University and Washington and Jefferson College for the Coalition for Christian Outreach. He serves as director of contemporary worship at the Church of the Covenant (PCUSA), in Washington, Pa., where he leads the music team and plans the weekly worship service. Following graduation, he will be the church’s full-time director of youth and contemporary worship while he pursues ordination. Jefferson aspires to pastor a church in a college setting. He and his wife, Lisa, have two children: Zechariah (4) and Lucy (3). They are expecting their third child in September.
Jeffrey A. Garrett of Pittsburgh, Pa., served for one year in missions in Central Asia before coming to the seminary. He is currently involved in prison ministry and the mission and outreach team for Providence Presbyterian Church (PCA) in McKees Rocks, Pa., where he also teaches Sunday School. Garrett and his family plan to serve in overseas missions once they decide on a location and begin to raise support. They aim to be mentored by and work with indigenous churches, gain experience teaching, help facilitate church planting among locals, and possibly pursue further education. Garrett and his wife, Jamie, have four children: Hannah (9), Justus (7), Lydia (3), and Josiah (6 months).
Zachary J. Kail of Beaver Falls, Pa., serves as a senior high Sunday School teacher for College Hill Reformed Presbyterian Church on the campus of Geneva College. Following Seminary, he aspires to be a pastor or associate pastor and possibly a professor later on. Kail and his wife, Leisl, are expecting their first child this summer.
Young-Ho Kim of Monroeville, Pa., came to RPTS by way of Hamilton, Canada, where he worked with the youth group for the Canada Korean Church. He is originally from Seoul, South Korea. Kim is a member of Mt. Zion Korean Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh where he assists with the elementary group. He will take a pastoral examination in August for his denomination and hopes to be a minister in the Korean Church. Kim and his wife, Sung-Cho, have two children: Joshua (11) and Caleb (6).
Timothy J. McClain of Rochester Twp., Pa., serves First Reformed Presbyterian Church of Beaver Falls, Pa., as a ruling elder. He plans to seek a call to the pastorate. He and his wife, Bonnie, have two sons: Matt (22) and Joe (17).
John Paul Strunk of Pittsburgh, Pa., first trained at RPTS from 2000 to 2003 before spending three years at Ft. Bragg, NC, in the US Army Special Forces as a Green Beret. He attends Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and hopes to pursue pastoral ministry either in the U.S. or abroad. Strunk and his wife, Olga, are expecting their first child this summer.
David G. Whitla of Turtle Creek, Pa., is originally from Ballyclare, Northern Ireland, and most recently taught the Bible and World History at Covenant Christian High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a member of Southside Indianapolis Reformed Presbyterian Church, where he has received a call to be the Associate Pastor following graduation. Whitla and his wife June have two children: Katie (3) and Ethan (16 months).
Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) Graduates:
Michael E. Howard of Wheeling, W.Va., is a member of Kirkwood Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Bridgeport, Ohio, and he teaches and is director of young adult ministries at Vance Memorial Church in Wheeling. He also is director of K and D Ministries and host of the Bible Burgh radio program (www.bibleburgh.com) heard each Sunday evening at 9 p.m. on WORD-FM in Pittsburgh. He works for WORD as an advertising account executive, and plans to continue his employment there while also pursuing work as a part-time associate pastor and continuing to grow K and D Ministries. Howard and his wife, Amy, live in Wheeling, W.Va., with their six children: Christopher (17), Andrew (14), Sarah (11), Jonathan (9), Elizabeth (5), and Abigail (17 months).
Peter N. Jones of Morgantown, W.Va., is pastor of Christ Church of Morgantown, W.Va., where he will continue to serve following graduation. He and his wife, Julie, live in Morgantown with their five children: Samuel (8), William (7), Benjamin (5), Calvin (3), and Amelia (1).
Norman K. Lewis of Pittsburgh, Pa., serves with the drug and alcohol ministry and prison ministry for Union Baptist Church of Swissvale, where he is a member. Following graduation, he plans to explore the possibility of a pastoral call and has a particular interest in working in a ministry with a Christian addictions model. Originally from Philadelphia, Lewis lives in Swissvale with his wife, Sheila, who worked for RPTS as the cook the last two years while he was a student.
Anthony J. Platt of Poland, Ohio, was a pastor for five years before entering Seminary. He currently is the youth and associate pastor for Trinity Fellowship Church in Youngstown, Ohio. After graduation, Platt plans to put his education to use in his local church and work on his M.Div. degree followed by a doctorate to “try my hand at Christian and theological writing.” Originally from Boardman, Ohio, he lives in Poland with his wife, Ellie.
Le E. Saunders of Pittsburgh, Pa., served as community activist for POYSE (Protect Our Youth Serve Elders) uniting neighbors in activities, talents, book clubs, and rallying against violence, prior to coming to the seminary. She is a member of Metropolitan Baptist Church on the North Side of Pittsburgh where she lives and teaches Sunday School, helps with Adopt a Block with the Mayor’s Office, and evangelizes for community development. Saunders plans to expand her church’s outreach to women and children within the North Side communities, unite women in Biblical principles, and serve the Center for Youth and Children..
Scott A. Taylor of Wilkinsburg, Pa., plans to continue to work with youth and reach inner-city, underprivileged children. He works for Hosanna House in the youth department as a mentor, advocate, and counselor, and is an associate minister at Bethany Baptist Church in Homewood.
Servant of the Church (S.C. Cert.) Graduate:
Sharon Porter Dennard of Pittsburgh, Pa., is a member of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, where she serves as minister of biblical literacy in Christian education and established and developed Mt. Ararat Theological Academy, an adult Christian education program. She is the first graduate in the seminary’s Servant of the Church certificate program.
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