Program Assistant: Tantur Ecumenical Institute (Jerusalem, Israel)

Position Description: 2016-17 Program Assistant Stipended Residency for Seminarian, Graduate Assistant, or Mid-Career Professional on Leave

Tantur Ecumenical Institute: an Oasis of Learning, Community, and Hospitality

Summary of Responsibilities: Assists the Program Director with a wide range of tasks related to continuing education programs, outside groups, and related activities. May be assigned tasks across departments as needs arise, though focus will be on programs.

Supervision: Reports most directly to the Program Director.

Hours: The position is full-time. Hours will vary significantly day to day and week to week according to itineraries, and the Program Assistant will also participate in the rotation for evening coverage and overnight on-call coverage.


  • Participate fully early on in 4-6 weeks of one of Tantur’s Continuing Education Programs, while also frequently staffing the “front end” of the program. The person staffing the “front end” of a program performs duties such as greeting participants and corresponding with them mid-program, introducing speakers, setting up and taking down a/v, assisting guides, making payments, gathering receipts, calling drivers and speakers to confirm arrangements, counting participants during excursions, answering participant questions, assessing program elements, sharing input with the director and liaising when needed, etc.
  • During these 4 -6 weeks, other responsibilities will be assigned outside of program time as needed to fill out a full-time position. However, full participation in the program for these weeks is intended as a form of orientation, education, and compensation simultaneously.
  • Continue to staff the front end of programs with regularity for duration of the appointment to this position. (These duties will be shared with other staff, but this will be a core role.)
  • Participate in the life of the community: attend ecumenical community prayers regularly, help organize ecumenical prayers, and lead on occasion; offer hospitality and companionship to guests; participate in community meals and conversations; participate in – and occasionally plan – events that help animate the campus, such as movie and game nights, etc.
  • Participate regularly in program office meetings.
  • Participate in rotation for evening and overnight on-call coverage at Tantur. (Staff evening prayer, greet whole community at dinner, assist front desk staff in case of overnight guest illness, etc.)
  • Assist with administrative projects, such as researching and organizing information for projects and programs, creating and compiling surveys, compiling receipts and vouchers, creating resource documents for guests, etc. May assist occasionally with planning programs.
  • Provide some “runner” assistance at panels, conferences, other events.
  • Depending on institutional needs and your background, you may be asked to work across departments at times. This could include tasks such as helping in the library, or even occasional emergency help in the kitchen, front desk, etc. However, your main focus will be on programs.
  • Contribute to the overall stewardship of the physical space, programming, and community life.
  • Additional responsibilities as needs arise.


  • Round-trip basic economy travel to Jerusalem.
  • Free room and board at Tantur, and when on assigned programmed excursions.
  • Free participation in 4 – 6 weeks of one of Tantur’s Continuing Education / Sabbatical Programs. (Will continue to participate with some regularity thereafter.)
  • Stipend of $300 per month spending money, which can also be paid in local currency.
  • Local cell phone and data plan.
  • As needed, up to $185 per month reimbursement for traveler’s or health insurance premiums, and up to $500 reimbursement for out-of-pocket health expenses that might arise while serving.
  • Three weeks of vacation time over the course of the appointment, ideally to be taken outside of program times and at a time mutually agreed upon with the Program Director.

Dates: Preferred dates are June 1, 2016 to August 7, 2017. However, if your availability differs from these dates, please indicate the dates of your availability when you apply.

Apply: Please send brief letter of interest – along with and CV or Résumé – by email to the attention of Jeff VonWald, Program Director, using  Priority consideration will be given to applications received by Feb 3, 2016. Applications will continue to be considered until position is filled.

The Christian Century publishes essay by Gail A. Ricciuti, D.D.

An abbreviated version of an essay by Gail A. Ricciuti, D.D., Associate Professor of Homiletics, was published in the October 19, 2015 edition of The Christian Century. Read Dr. Ricciuti's post here:

The full text of Dr. Ricciuti's essay is available here:

I didn’t expect to be converted all over again by their singing, or struck breathless in spirit by their songs. After more than thirty years of being a quiet house church meeting in various city venues, the small congregation had purchased a vacant lot a few blocks down our street and nestled a new church building there; and as Presbyterian ministers of some forty years, my husband and I walked through their doors one bright Sunday morning to “check out that little Mennonite fellowship.”

In that first moment, we encountered an entirely genuine welcome, even when they– a congregation that eschews a called pastorate in favor of intentionally shared leadership– learned who we are. Ironically, long generations ago our spiritual ancestors were the persecutors of theirs; and yet it was so joyful a welcome that we were never again strangers. It was the singing, and the songs, that helped magnify the hospitality. Songs from around the world, different eras, diverse traditions: soaring four-part harmony, often unaccompanied and as unselfconscious as the tangible sense of community among the singers. “Over my head, I hear music in the air,” we sang; and “Beauty for brokenness, Hope for despair…” From the glad, driving rhythm of “What is this place, where we are meeting? Only a house…Yet it becomes a body that lives when we are gathered here…” to the Swahili “Siyahamba,” we sang, and sing, ourselves into fresh faith.

Compared to our years in churches with practiced choirs and magnificent music programs, this was new for us– the whole congregation itself a choir. “They sing like angels!” I remarked to myself that first Sunday. It has now become our common joke: after my husband’s retirement the month before (my own work having shifted some years ago to teaching on a seminary faculty), I had said “On the weeks I’m not preaching elsewhere, I might occasionally take a leisurely Sunday morning off.” But just twenty minutes into what would become our settled sojourn among the Mennonites, a wry inner voice whispered “Oh, drat. There go my Sundays!” As one whose heart had been reached (“like a bell that is lifted and struck,” in Annie Dillard’s words), I knew that I could not stay away from this fellowship or their songs.

Singing such a wide array, eight or ten every Sunday morning, is a metaphor for our life together. In the way each voice supports the songline of the others, this is real community. With all its expectable quirks and quarks, it is “church” in the best sense: a strong core with permeable boundaries, not only reaching out but gladly gathering in anyone who happens to show up (and often feeding them, as well). They eat together the way they sing!– with gusto and love, around a lavish potluck table that invites and represents the world. While different members plan and lead worship each week, a rotation of volunteer songleaders draws out our best: one week a bright, personable young truck driver who happens to have perfect pitch leads in his energetic style, while the next might find us under the more meditative direction of a newly-minted Ph.D. in musicology, her two-year-old son hugging her left leg. With each service stitched together in song, we pray, proclaim, protest– and are changed. My initially shaky alto has been gradually bolstered and strengthened by all the other voices, as I discover that I’m a better person for being among them: more faith-full, more cognizant of what it means to be the body of Christ. They are converting me again and again by being a singing, serving community. As an anonymous poet wrote generations ago, they are helping “to make…out of the works of my every day not a reproach but a song.”

Gail A. Ricciuti
Rochester, New York

Audit a Course at CRCDS!

There's no better time to audit a course at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. There are some great courses being offered this coming semester, including: Ministry on the Margins, Black Church Perspectives on Faith, American Religious History, Theological Voices of African Americans, and Faith Seeking Understanding.

Detailed course information, including schedules and professors can be found here:

For general auditing information, please click here:

Call today to reserve your place: (585) 340-9500

Clergy and alumni/ae receive a courtesy discount.

Full Time Pastor: The First Presbyterian Church of Westernville, NY

The First Presbyterian Church of Westernville, NY, founded in 1818, is seeking a full-time pastor for its congregation of about 80 members.   Westernville is a village in Oneida County NY – just a 45 minute drive from the Adirondack Mountains.  More information about the church and its Mission Study may be found on their website at    If you have interest in this position, please contact their Clerk of Session, Steve Smits, at  315-281-0484  or  Or you may also contact Floyd Olney, Chair of the PNC