Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Andrew Purves Installed as Jean and Nancy Davis Professor of Historical Theology

The Rev. Dr. Andrew Purves was installed Nov. 12, 2013, as the first Jean and Nancy Davis Professor of Historical Theology during a special worship service.

“The inauguration of the Jean and Nancy Davis Chair in Historical Theology is an important event for the future of PTS. It emphasizes the Seminary's continuing commitment to teaching and scholarship for the church,” said Purves. “I am honored to be the first person installed into this position and am grateful to the Seminary for recognizing my work as a theologian/teacher in the church of Jesus Christ.”

A native of Edinburgh, Scotland, Purves received degrees in philosophy and divinity from the University of Edinburgh, and a Th.M. from Duke Divinity School. His Ph.D. is from the University of Edinburgh. Purves came to the US in 1978 and was ordained by Philadelphia Presbytery. He served as minister of the Hebron Presbyterian Church, Clinton, Pa., until 1983, when he was called to join the faculty of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Purves has a long list of publications, both books and articles, academic and popular. His books include The Search for Compassion: Spirituality and Ministry, Union in Christ (with Mark Achtemeier), A Passion for the Gospel (with Achtemeier), Encountering God: Christian Faith in Turbulent Times (with Charles Partee), Pastoral Theology in the Classical Tradition, Reconstructing Pastoral Theology: A Christological Foundation, The Crucifixion of Ministry, and The Resurrection of Ministry.

The Jean and Nancy Davis Chair of Historical Theology was established at Pittsburgh Seminary in 2013. Funding was provided by identical twin sisters Jean and Nancy Davis who were lifelong Pittsburghers and died within four months of each other at the age of 97. Jean Davis, who died in October 2012, and her sister Nancy, who died in February 2013, lived their entire lives in a red brick house built by their father on South Braddock Avenue in Pittsburgh's East End. The twins’ money was largely inherited from their mother, Blanche, and father, Frank, who held the distribution franchise for the laundry whitening detergent La France, which Mr. Davis later sold and invested in other businesses. The sisters’ wealth accumulated over time with the aid of their modest lifestyles.  Both sisters attended Pittsburgh’s Winchester Thurston School. Jean graduated from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and also earned a degree in music from the University of Michigan. Nancy started at Mount Holyoke and graduated from the Pennsylvania College for Women, now Chatham University. Jean served with the USO in Germany and Nancy with the WAVES in the U.S. Navy. Jean headed the music department in the Tarentum schools for a short time, while Nancy worked as a secretary at Westinghouse's Bettis facility for several years.