In August 2015, Dr. John R. Franke accepted the invitation of the Session to become the new Theologian in Residence of Second Presbyterian Church effective September 21, 2015. Dr. Franke was recommended to the Session by the Theologian in Residence Search Committee that received national and international applications.
Dr. Franke currently serves as the general coordinator for The Gospel and Our Culture Network, North America and as a Professor of Religious Studies and Missiology for the Protestant Theological Faculty of Leuven, Belgium. Dr. Franke has held various positions as a professor and teacher of theology and most notably served as the Charles and Helen Layfield Theologian in Residence at First Presbyterian Church, Allentown, PA, where he is currently a member. Dr. Franke is a graduate of Nyack College and received his Masters from Biblical Theological Seminary. He received a D.Phil. in Theology from the University of Oxford in 1997.
A prolific writer, Dr. Franke has authored over 70 articles, reviews and book chapters as well as several books including Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Post-modern Context (Westminster John Knox); The Character of Theology: An Introduction to its Nature, Task, and Purpose (Baker Academic); Barth for Armchair Theologians (Westminster John Knox); and Manifold Witness: The Plurality of Truth (Abingdon). He is a sought after speaker and lecturer, presenting to audiences in the United States and abroad.
Dr. Darrell Guder, Henry Winters Luce Emeritus Professor of Missional and Ecumenical Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary says, “John Franke is part of the theological vanguard in North America focused on the challenges of our changing mission field and the church’s calling to serve God as Christ’s witnesses. In his research, teaching, and publishing, he fulfills the Reformed concept of the “Teaching Elder,” drawing all of these resources into creative and challenging opportunities for the “equipping of the saints for the work of service.”
Dr. Tony Sundermeier, Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta says of Dr. Franke, “John Franke is a theologian for the church. As a colleague in a congregational context for two-plus years, I had a front row seat to John’s passion and proficiency for equipping Christians to live faithfully at the intersection of Gospel, church, and culture. In John, you will discover an approachable, winsome, and thoughtful teacher, colleague, and friend.”
Dr. Franke is married to Debra and they have one son, JJ, who will be entering Messiah College this fall and plans to major in Adventure Education with a minor in Youth Ministry. Debra serves as the Assistant Director of Alumni Career Programs at La Salle University in Philadelphia, PA.
As Theologian in Residence, Dr. Franke will serve Second as a model teacher and work with the Spiritual Life committee in coordinating the Adult Education program. John will train and equip our members to be biblically and theologically informed teachers and leaders in the church and community. While John is not ordained, he will lead the Second@Six evening worship service. He will also provide pastoral leadership and perform other functions as part of his responsibilities at Second.
Dr. Stacy Johnson, Arthur M. Adams Professor of Systematic Theology, Princeton Seminary writes, “John Franke is one of the leading authorities on the future of the church—its mission and message for today’s world. He is an excellent teacher, a person of deep faith and personal integrity, and an ideal choice to serve as Second Church’s Theologian in Residence.”
We welcome Dr. Franke and his family to Second and anticipate with great excitement his teaching ministry.
The Theologian in Residence Search Committee was co-chaired by Scott Burns and Jill Vanderwall. The committee was comprised of: Jill Chappell, Karen Dowden, Jim Lemons, Tim Taylor, and Ann Rose.