Good afternoon everyone. Right now I’m sitting in the sanctuary of the Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana for the Next Church Conference. It’s been pretty amazing thus far, you’ll hear more about it on Wednesday!
Today we’ve snagged an interview with Cynthia M. Campbell, our President here at McCormick and Cyrus McCormick Professor of Church and History. She’s the author of several books and teaches classes here at McCormick, such as Polity. In May of last year Cynthia announced her retirement from McCormick, and we are sad to see her go, but we managed to sit down with her among her busy schedule and ask her a few questions. She’s always open to conversations with students and welcome questions. She lives with her husband, Fred and cat Shadow. So, without further ado, here’s Cynthia!
Name & Title: Cynthia M. Campbell, President, McCormick Theological Seminary
Where did you go to school & what did you study; seminary? My undergraduate degree is from Occidental College (small liberal arts, formerly Presbyterian college in Los Angeles where I majored in philosophy). My M.Div. is from Harvard Divinity School. I did a Ph.D. at Southern Methodist University (in Dallas) where I concentrated on theology and wrote a dissertation on the doctrine of the Trinity in the theology of Karl Barth.
How did you end up working for McCormick? I was serving as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Salina, Kansas, and was invited by the Presidential Search Committee to apply.
We hear you’re the one to take polity with in May, any words on that? So, actually I am not (sadly) going to be able to teach polity this May. But Doug Tracy will and I know he will do a great job.
What’s one of the favorite parts of your job? One: signing diplomas … and all that represents, namely the accomplishments of all of our students. Two: telling other people about how important theological education is for the future of the church.
You announced your retirement last year; what’s next for you? Some time for reflection, first, and then I am open to the leading of the Spirit. One of my dreams is a return to congregational ministry in some form, perhaps interim ministry. It was very hard to leave the parish when I came here and I hope I will be able to return to that ministry again before I “finally” retire.
What advice would you give to the next president? Enjoy this work. Pray daily. Embrace the legacy of McCormick while you build the future.
I’ve met several people who knew you before you got to McCormick, they all say great things about you. Who is one person who has influenced you in your life and ministry and why? That’s hard because there are so many! But the one who remains most formative is one of the first. H. Ganse Little was the senior pastor of the congregation in which I grew up in Pasadena, California. He was a brilliant man, a formidable preacher, a major leader in the Presbyterian Church and Moderator of our General Assembly in 1966. What captured my imagination was the way his preaching made me want to study the Bible and think deeply about Christian faith and its implications for things like fair housing and war and poverty and scientific advancements.
We haven’t done a spot yet on your cat Shadow, but we’d love to. Can you tell us a little about Shadow? Fred and I adopted Shadow from the Anti-Cruelty Society two and a half years ago, and I cannot imagine life without her (except maybe when she insists on getting me up before the alarm in the morning!). She is a black and white American short-hair. She loves to sleep on or near the radiators in our apartment. One of her other favorite activities is running up and down the long hallway in our apartment (often in the middle of the night!). She is a very happy kitty, and actually pretty spoiled.
On Wednesday, look for more coming your way from Mormick!
Peace~ Shelley D.