Bay Area Seminary Professor Resigns to Pursue Pastoring

The president of San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS) has announced his resignation from the position in order to pursue pastoral ministry.

The Rev. Philip W. Butin made the announcement on Monday in a personal letter written to the SFTS community, accompanied by a statement released by the school. Butin was previously the pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque, N.M. before joining SFTS in 2002.

"I will always be deeply grateful for my years of service to SFTS," Butin said in the statement. "God has enabled us to accomplish a great deal together. SFTS has a bright future as it continues to clarify and pursue its unique identity and mission in a time of rapid change in theological education."

Regarding his new job pursuit, Butin said, "I am more convinced than ever that there is no higher calling than serving God's people directly in pastoral ministry… it will be a joy and an honor to be back on the cutting edge, sharing the joys and concerns of God's people, preaching and teaching, helping a specific congregation to hear and respond to God's call to participate in God's mission of self-giving to the world."

Several key accomplishments were made by SFTS under Butin's leadership including the reduction of its $10 million debt to $6 million, the overseeing of the school's move from Claremont to Pasadena, and the strengthening of the seminary's strategic planning processes.

"Phil has served us exceptionally well," commented SFTS trustee George Abdo. "Paramount among the challenges was the need for comprehensive strategic planning and systems to turn plans into reality. The debt has been reduced to $6 million, our strategic planning processes have become the template for institutional change, and the Seminary's accreditation status has been solidly reaffirmed."

Peter J. van Bever, Chair of the SFTS Board of Trustees commented, "SFTS's challenges going forward are not unique, as the recent recession has forced many seminaries throughout the nation to embrace significant institutional change. I especially appreciate the fact that President Butin helped us clarify and consolidate the Seminary's mission and vision, established regular strategic planning and institutional assessment processes, supported the faculty in accomplishing a revision of our academic curriculum, and raised the centrality and visibility of spiritual and practical formation as unique gifts of SFTS."

The seminary plans to have an Interim President in place by January, 2010, with Butin's resignation becoming official on Jan. 31.

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