Ten Honorary Doctors named in Debrecen

2013. december 04., szerda

The Reformed Theological University in Debrecen consecrated ten new honorary doctors at the Reformed College in Debrecen on 21 November. The event was organized on the occasion of Reformed College's 475th anniversary.

Presiding bishop of the RCH, Gusztáv Bölcskei, spoke at the ceremony as well as the rector of the Reformed Theological University in Debrecen, Károly Fekete. Among those honored were Dr. Ulrich Körtner, Dr. Gottfried Wilhelm Locher, Dr. Jerry Pillay and Dr. Herman J. Selderhuis.

Ulrich Körtner received his doctorate in systematic theology in 1982 and has gone on to become a leading figure in a wide variety of scientific fields from fundamental theology, medical ethics, diaconia and ecumenical theology to eschatology. He has more than 1,300 publications, including 43 books, and is currently the head of Systematic Theology and the Legal and Medical Ethics at the University of Vienna. The Viennese Club of Scientific and Cultural Journalists awarded him "Scientist of the Year" in 2001, and he was further honored with a "Doctor Honoris Causa" title from the Paris Protestant Theological Faculty in 2010.

Gottfried Locher communicates his passion for reformed theology and the research of relevant ecclesiological issues for ecumenical dialogue in particular through his position as the head of the Swiss Protestant Churches. He received his Ph.D. in systematic theology in 2000 followed shortly by an MBA from the London Business School. Alongside his work in Switzerland, he has continuously worked in the international ecumenical arena. Locher served as an elected member of the WCC Central Committee (2000-2004) and simultaneously the European President (2002-2006) of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. Since 2012, he has served as co-president of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe with a focus on representing the "reformed voice" in inter-Protestant discussions. "Each and every moment of the varied fields of activity in Gottfried Locher's colorful life had their specific role and place in his career. The "patchwork" of his life in service is now enriched once again by the title of 'doctor honoris causa', which on one hand is meant as a sign of recognition of his previous theological and church political achievements, but on the other, the award as an incentive is intended to encourage him to continue his work and service in all areas with the same sternness, dedication and openness for the benefit of the religious and spiritual renewal of the Protestant community in Europe and beyond." – concluded Bishop Bölcskei his laudation.

Jerry Pillay has devoted his work and research to mission and development theology in his home of South Africa. In 2002 he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Cape-Town and for several years served as a pastor in local Presbyterian congregations in South Africa. Since then he served as Moderator of the Uniting Presbyterian Church from 2004-2006 and went on to serve as General Secretary beginning in 2009. He was also elected president of the Alliance of Reformed Churches in Africa followed by his current position as president of the World Communion of Reformed Churches. Additionally, Pillay was elected "Extraordinary Professor in Systematic Theology, Ethics and Public Life" by the University of Stellenbosch in 2011.

Herman Selderhuis began his career as a congregational pastor and later earned his doctorate in 1994. He then became a professor of Church History and Law at the Appledorn Theological University where he became the director of the school's research institute for reformation studies. He has worked to portray Calvin in a different light to the general public and scholars alike with two books entitled, "Calvin's Theology of the Psalms" and "John Calvin: Man between Confidence and Doubt" respectively. Selderhuis is a member of several organization, most notably he is the president of the International Congress on Calvin Research, curator Johannes a Lasco library of Emden and director of Refo500.

All of this year's honorary doctors are:

  • Dr. Stewart Jay Brown, Church historian professor, academic, honorary president of Scottish Company of Church History (Edinburgh)
  • Dr. Hans-Anton Drewes, Barth-researcher, retired director of Karl Barth Archives (Basel)
  • Dr. Imre László, literary historian professor, normal fellow in Hungarian Academy of Sciences, last rector of University in Debrecen (Debrecen)
  • Koncsol László, writer, literary reviewer, last general superintendent of the Slovakian Reformed Church (Bratislava)
  • Dr. Ulrich Körtner, ethics-professor, head of Ethics and Law at the Medical Science Institute (Vienna)
  • Dr. Gottfried Wilhelm Locher, president of the Swiss Protestant Churches, vice president of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) (Bern)
  • Dr. Pap Géza, former bishop of the Transylvanian Reformed church district, pastoral executive chairman of a Synod at Transylvanian Reformed Church (Cluj-Napoca)
  • Dr. Jerry Pillay, president of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, general secretary of the Presbyterian Church in South Africa (Farrarmere – South-Africa)
  • Dr. Ritoók Zsigmond, classical- philology professor, former chief in Company of Ancient Society, normal fellow in Hungarian Academy of Sciences, (Budapest)
  • Dr. Herman J. Selderhuis, Church historian professor, Calvin-researcher, head of the Refo500 (Hasselt – Netherlands).

László Imre and Jerry Pillay spoke on behalf of the honorees to conclude the ceremony and in the afternoon each honorary doctor was able to present a short paper to those gathered for the ceremony.



Amy Lester

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