March 13, 2009

An Editorial

A Publication of the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary Community

Issue #174

The Financial Crisis Hits Home
The theme of ‘identity’ has echoed through these pages all semester. On Monday, March 9, 2009, the world-wide financial crisis hit home and we found ourselves confronted with questions of identity yet again. The seminary enacted a series of budget cutting measures, including the elimination of nine staff positions, resulting in seven of our brothers and sisters being out of work and joining the burgeoning ranks of our nation’s unemployed. Georgia, Kevin, Lupe, Jackie, Karen, Sharon, and Todd. As word spread during lunch, conversation turned to grief for those who were let go, and frustration that it had come to this. We are a seminary... we are supposed to be different, to be a light unto the world. Who are we, as a Christian community, when some persons who were with us one day, are gone the next, their family pictures oddly absent from their desks? We know the Body of Christ cannot be torn asunder so easily... yet here is the present earthly reality of what is... torn asunder. The ripples move outward to our future. We have sacrificed to follow a call from God, only to find that churches are in dire straits, too, and possibly unable to call us this year. We can envision a time when, one day, we will lead churches whose purpose is rooted in the missio dei. Surely there will be times when we will have to confront our own financial crises. What will we have learned? Who are we, we who feel so helpless to help? We are a people who shudder at the sound of words such as ‘endowment driven’, ‘right sizing’, and ‘the new normal.’ This language is more foreign to us than ancient Hebrew or Greek. Bitter medicine for a nasty sickness, perhaps, but it leaves us wondering, “Is the cure worth the cost?” We don’t like it. We hate it. We push back. We know there must be a better way; we hope there is a better way. Can we find it? We wonder if we are simply naive. We wonder if it was a similar simple naiveté that led to the cross. We wonder if we are called to follow... we wonder... if we are able. We are a people who know that the best we can do–any of us–is imperfect. And we know that we have some good, faithful people leading Austin Seminary. We pause, and we know that we have benefited from their service and leadership. Indeed, we have benefited from being ‘endowment driven.’ We wonder if our ideals are compromised by our needs and desires. We shudder again. But let us not forget that another strong clue to our identity has also emerged on campus this semester–the babies! Seven children have been born to Austin Seminary students since January 20th. New families getting started; families with children growing even larger. Babies born to juniors, middlers, and seniors. Baby showers have given way to neighbors bringing food. The eyes of each parent gaze upon their hopes and dreams. The eyes of each child gaze into the unknown possibilities of life. We wonder whether God gazes similarly upon us. Yes! Both of these reminders of identity–the loss from our community, and the children born into it–were with us last Wednesday at the all-campus meeting: from the back of the room a newborn baby’s cry arose one moment, and a mournful cry of someone’s grief the next. Perhaps this is who we are. Perhaps we are a people who, during the difficulties and hardships of our times, bear witness to the promise of new life. It is a good thing that the church suffers along with the rest of the world, that we are not left out of the pain that others experience. Yet these are just words, words that do not put food on the table, words that do not pay the rent, words that do not ease another’s burden. Beneath the reflection, we know there is real pain. Paul Dubois, Editor

© 2009 Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Issue 174

Page 2

Settles Lectures 2009
Spring Break No Chapel Services This Week Dr. William Storrar, Director of the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, NJ, will present two lectures on Mission and Public Theology. These lectures explore the relationship between mission and public theology, as that term is understood by the new International Journal of Public Theology ( ). Lecture 1 – Tuesday, March 24, 5:30 p.m., Shelton Chapel (overflow room McMillan 210) 'The Common Ground' Lecture 2 – Wednesday, March 25, 11:00 a.m., Shelton Chapel (overflow room McMillan 210) 'The Creative Tension' For more information, contact Alison Riemersma in the Dean’s Office.

Income Tax Issues for Clergy
All students, as well as ordained faculty and administrators are invited to our second annual Seminar on Income Tax Issues for Clergy.

• • • •

Thursday, April 23 Presented by Debbie Steinbach, CPA and spouse of Rev., Phil Steinbach, an Austin Seminary graduate 6:00-8:00 PM McCord 204

Acts 2:42
Acts 2:42 is a student group committed to fellowship and serving the Austin and the Austin Seminary community. We meet Mondays at noon in McCord 201. Everyone is welcome to come and check us out. For more information, contact Charissa Ellis.

This seminar is strongly encouraged for all seniors. If you are a junior or middler, please be aware that we plan to offer this seminar again next year. This is not your only chance. Contact Ann Fields for more information.

Parents’ Night Out
Mark your calendar for the following dates: • March 27, Hicks Community House, 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. RSVP by Wednesday, March 25. • April 17, Hicks Community House, 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. RSVP by Wednesday, April 15. RSVP to Laurel Dixon, Babysitting Coordinator at 4738797 or Space is Limited!

Personal Counseling
Referral for individual counseling is available to students and/or their families as needed. If you would like to talk about the possibility of counseling, contact Ann Fields at or by phone at 4044869.

Mark your calendars!
Commencement News Baccalaureate Sat., May 23 6:00 p.m. Commencement Sun., May 24 2:30 p.m.
Both Events Will Be Held At University Presbyterian Church See Alison in the dean’s office for more information.

Financial Aid News
To all returning students admitted to the MATS and MDiv degree programs (All other students may disregard this notice.): Financial aid application packets are now available for the 2009-2010 school year. You may pick up the one with your name on it outside of the Admissions Office area on the first floor of McMillan. If there is not one with your name on it, please let Glenna Balch know and she will give you one. If you will not be seeking financial aid, please inform Glenna Balch in the Financial Aid Office. For more information, contact Glenna Balch.


Issue 174

Page 3

Proposed Voting Process For Student Body President, Student Senate, Elections Commissioner and Committee Representatives
The Student Senate is proposing a change to the Constitution regarding the election of student officers. The proposal will be presented, discussed, and considered at an upcoming Manna. What follows is a description of the current situation and the proposal for change. The idea behind changing our election system to an instant runoff vote (single transferable vote) system is to limit the amount of time we spend on elections and to ensure that each voter’s voice is given an equal say. In previous years our election system has made for elections that last anywhere from four to eight weeks. When you count in all the time it takes for nominations, elections, and then runoff elections, our current system is very time consuming. As the elections drag on, students become less interested and candidates can become more frustrated. It also ties up extra time for the elections commissioner, Student Senate, and candidates during the end of the spring semester. During runoff elections voter turnout is almost, always much lower than for the original election. Voters voices aren’t heard because they don’t participate or because they no longer care for either candidate. The proposed system would allow for voters to vote their preference of candidate no matter what situation arises. The proposed election system would bring the election cycle down to about 4 weeks at most. Because of the way the elections would be conducted, there would be no runoff elections (they would be built into the first ballots) and candidates would be elected in a much quicker amount of time. The ballots would ask the voter to rank the candidates in order of preference to be used in case no candidate is elected immediately. Because voters rank the candidates they always have a say in the election process and they never have to make a choice between the “lesser of evils.” Here is (hopefully) a simple breakdown of how the proposed voting system works. There are other explanations on the Internet, and there are links to them at the end of this letter. This example will use the student body president election as the example. 1. 2. 3. Adam, Billy, Cindy, and Diane are all nominated and are running for president. Students are given (electronically using email and the Internet) a ballot that asks them to rank ALL candidates by preference. After the election has ended the first preferences 4. are tallied up as everyone’s vote and the results show the Diane has 30 votes, Cindy 27, Billy 26, and Adam 17. Since no candidate has reached a majority something else has to happen to elect a candidate. Normally we would have a second round of voting with new ballots. In the proposed system we move to the instant runoff. Adam has the lowest vote count and so his ballots are redistributed based on the second preference. Let’s assume that most of Adam’s supporters favored Billy and to a lesser extent Diane and Cindy. The new tally is Diane 33, Cindy 31, and Billy 36. We still have no majority winner and so another instant runoff is held, this time Cindy’s ballots are redistributed based on the next preference. Assuming most of Cindy’s support went to Diane the new tally is Diane 58 and Billy 42. Diane is declared the winner because she now has a majority of the votes.


All this happened within a matter of minutes once the final vote was cast and each and every person’s ballot was counted in a way they preferred. While the system seems more difficult, it is actually a much more efficient and fair way of holding an election. While the system isn’t exactly the same when it comes to electing senators or committee representatives the guiding principles are the same. This is because we aren’t electing a single winner but multiple winners in a single election. There is an added step in redistributing some of the votes. This system is officially called single transferable vote instead of instant runoff voting. If you would like to learn more about the proposed system or watch some really cool videos check out these web resources. - the easiest/shortest way to get acquainted with the proposed voting system. Yes the last two come from Wikipedia, but they are accurate and in depth and provide a good picture of what IRV and STV are.

For more information, contact Melissa Koerner, Student Body President, or Matthew Thompson, Senator.

Issue 174

Page 4


Monday, March 16th
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Interim Pastor Training – Laura Harris Lee Elementary Chess Camp—David Jensen

McMillan 201/211 McMillan 210

Tuesday, March 17th
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Interim Pastor Training – Laura Harris Lee Elementary Chess Camp—David Jensen

McMillan 201/211 McMillan 210

Wednesday, March 18th
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

SW Ministry Development Center Group Assessment Interim Pastor Training – Laura Harris Lee Elementary Chess Camp—David Jensen Balcones Community Orchestra – Outside Group

McCord 201 McMillan 201/ 211 McMillan 210 McMillan 211

Thursday, March 19th
7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Interim Pastor Training – Laura Harris SW Ministry Development Center Group Assessment Lee Elementary Chess Camp—David Jensen

McMillan 201/211 McCord 201 McMillan 210

Friday, March 20th
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Interim Pastor Training – Laura Harris SW Ministry Development Center Group Assessment

McMillan 201/211 McCord 201

Saturday, March 21st
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Interim Pastor Training – Laura Harris

McMillan 201

Sunday, March 22nd
2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Austin Girl’s Choir – Sara McClure

Shelton Chapel

Submissions to Kairos: Email submissions to the editor, Paul Dubois, at Calendar events and room reservation requests should be sent to Jackie McCully at or made in person at the McCord desk. Editorial decisions are based on urgency, availability of space, and editorial guidelines. Deadline is Wednesday at 5:00 P.M. Submissions made after deadline must be accompanied by a dunkel. Kairos Editorial Guidelines Kairos is the voice of students at Austin Seminary. Kairos generally carries no advertisement for sales of goods or services by individuals. An exception is the sale of a student’s library or other study aids. It is not possible to make all program announcements which are submitted by individual churches. Kairos is more likely to be able to run announcements which apply to ecumenical or interfaith groups or groups of churches. No letters which attack individuals or groups will be run in Kairos. This is to be distinguished from letters which might criticize the actions of individuals or groups. Kairos will publish letters to the editor that contribute to Christian conversation on the APTS campus. All letters must be signed.

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Do you have something to say to Kairos? Something to add… Something to refute?
If so, we’d like to hear. We are committed to dialogue. Letters to the editor will be published. See page 7 of this issue for our editorial guidelines.