Head of Staff
A native of Missouri, Jim was raised in southern California. Following graduation from Harvard Divinity School, with a middler year at St. Andrews in Scotland, and ordination in 1975, he served as pastor of two yoked Presbyterian mission congregations in Beltrami County, in the far “North Country” of Minnesota. Called to the faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary in 1988 while completing his PhD at Union Theological Seminary, New York, Jim spent his first sabbatical leave in 1993 as an exchange minister of the Toorak Uniting Church in suburban Melbourne Australia.
While at Princeton, Jim taught courses in preaching and worship for MDiv students, seminars for advanced students, and served on some 35 PhD dissertation committees for the departments of theology and practical theology. From 2002-2014, he directed the Joe R. Engle Institute of Preaching, which brought to the campus each summer some 50 working preachers for a time of renewal and networking, with focused workshops on strengthening various aspects of their preaching. He is the author of three books, and also co-edited with Jane Dempsey Douglass, the essay collection, Women, Gender, and Christian Community (WJKP, 1997). In 2010, he was appointed academic dean by President (now Sir) Iain R. Torrance, and continued in that post under current President Craig Barnes until retiring in 2018.
Moving from New Jersey to Delaware with his partner Thomas Brown and their two “canine daughters,” Grace (now 13) and Izzey (almost 7), Jim was admitted into membership in New Castle Presbytery in March 2019. From 2019 to 2020, he supplied the pulpit of Manokin Presbyterian Church in Princess Anne, Maryland, until that congregation successfully called a full-time pastor. Jim began his service as transitional pastor at First and Central in July of 2021, as its Pastoral Nominating Committee launched its search for a full-time pastor.