Presbyterians of the Past

Classes Available in Presbyterian Theology and History

For its January 2022 interim program Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in South Carolina is offering four intensive classes open to general auditors. The subjects include “Introduction to Scottish History and Theology” taught by Dr. Ian Hamilton, “Reformed Worship,” by Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., and “Introduction to Biblical Counseling,” by Dr. Kevin Backus. Two classes, “Introduction to Homiletics,” by Pastor Breno Macedo, and “Ethics,” by James “Bebo” Elkins are for ordained men and candidates for the ministry. The fourth class for general auditors is Dr. C. N. Willborn’s “Presbyterian Church History” that includes three days of classroom lectures and two days touring Columbia and Charleston. When I attended the class and toured several years ago we visited the Old Columbia Theological Seminary campus which is currently a house museum called the Robert Mills House for the architect of note who designed it (best known for designing the Washington Monument). Included among Columbia’s faculty during the nineteenth century were James H. Thornwell, George Howe, Aaron W. Leland, Joseph R. Wilson, John L. Girardeau, Alexander T. McGill, William S. Plumer, and James Woodrow. While in Columbia a drive by the Insane Asylum (what it was called then) designed by Mills is worth a slight detour. Other sites visited when I made the trip were First Church, its chapel, and the church yard where Wilson and Howe are buried, and the horseshoe of early buildings on the University of South Carolina campus where Thornwell was president when it was called South Carolina College. Unfortunately, the historical lecture about First Church and the church yard by recently deceased John R. Dewitt will be missed. I think we visited Elmwood Cemetery where Thornwell and Woodrow are buried (probably others of note too, but I do not remember). After a drive to Charleston and some rest, sites I saw included Second Church where Thomas Smyth was pastor; First Scots Presbyterian Church; the only active Huguenot Church in the United States which is indicative of the French Reformed in the Low Country. Charleston is adorned with an antebellum ambiance that includes many churches and lovely homes accessed by hospitality doors and decorated with wrought iron work. The food in Charleston was very good and the view across the harbor of the aircraft carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point Naval Maritime Museum brings to mind the Greatest Generation and the price of freedom. If you are interested in history and would like to walk where the saints of the past have trod, then you would enjoy both the lectures and the tour associated with the Presbyterian history class. I have written about my experience in the past, so I don’t know if the tour still  follows the same plan. I do not have a link to a biography for John L. Girardeau because Dr. Willborn is the expert having written his Ph D. dissertation about him. For more information including dates, fees, and further descriptions see the GPTS website.

Barry Waugh


Source–The map is of Columbia, South Carolina, and is from the Library of Congress Digital Collection. The picture of the Thornwell markers was taken by the author.

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