chimes.sum2013.web0729 - page 35

The Rev. Byron L. Bland
named 2013 Distinguished Alumnus
Georgia-native honored for career as pastor, campus minister,
educator and conflict resolution advocate
By Jerry L. Van Marter
he Rev. Byron Lanier Bland
(1973 MA-Social Ethics; 1974
M.Div.) has been named San
Francisco Theological Seminary’s 2013
Distinguished Alumnus by the semi-
nary’s Alumni Council.
Throughout a dis-
tinguished career, Byron
Bland has served the Pres-
byterian Church (USA),
the community and the
world as a pastor, cam-
pus minister, hunger and
peace advocate, writer,
Stanford University lec-
turer, international con-
flict resolution expert and
college chaplain.
His path to SFTS
and the Bay Area was
unlikely. A native of ru-
ral Georgetown, Georgia,
Bland earned a degree in
industrial engineering at Georgia Tech
in Atlanta. A conscientious objector to
the Vietnam War, he was encouraged by
Atlanta-area pastors to consider seminary
and found his way providentially to SFTS.
Upon graduating from SFTS in 1974,
Bland accepted a call as pastor of Ingle-
side Presbyterian Church, a predomi-
nantly African-American congregation
in San Francisco. On the verge of closing
when he arrived, Ingleside revived under
his two-year pastorate and is now one of
the healthier Presbyterian congregations
in the city.
In 1976, Bland was called to be Ecu-
menical Campus Min-
ister at Stanford Uni-
versity, a position he
held until 1991. Dur-
ing his tenure there,
he was a co-founder
of the Ecumenical
Hunger Program of
Palo Alto — one of
the oldest and largest
faith and community-
based anti-hunger
organizations in the
country. He also was
instrumental in the
establishment of the
first peace studies pro-
grams at Stanford in
1982. He has lectured in peace studies at
Stanford since then under the auspices of
the Stanford schools of education, inter-
national relations and law.
From his peace studies work, Bland
has developed 20 years of engagement in
international conflict resolution — first
for Stanford’s Center for International
Security and Arms Control (1990-1998)
and since then for the Stanford Center on
International Conflict and Negotiation
(SCICN). Having worked for 20 years
in Northern Ireland and 10 years on the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he continues
his involvement in both conflicts.
Bland retired from Stanford in 2009,
but continues to serve as Senior Con-
sultant for SCICN, as a Lecturer at the
Stanford Law School, and as Chaplain/
Ombudsperson for Palo Alto University.
A member of San Jose Presbytery of
the PC(USA), Bland has served on the
Hunger, Church and World, and Ra-
cial Ethnic Ministries committees of the
presbytery, as well as on local and regional
ecumenical campus ministry boards.
Bland lives in Palo Alto with his wife,
Lissy. They are the parents of two adult
children — Loren, a computer whiz in
San Francisco, and Julia, an artist in New
York — and also keep watch over a stray
cat, Chester. Byron used to be an avid
runner until his achy knees caught up
with him, but still enjoys walking, gar-
dening, reading, and good bourbon. He’s
also a gourmet cook.
The SFTS Alumni Council is pleased
to name Byron Bland the seminary’s 2013
Distinguished Alumnus and gives thanks
to God for his service to the church, to
his community, to the academic life of
Stanford University, and to the world as
a tireless advocate for peace and justice.
Jerry Van Marter (M.Div. 1971) is director of
Presbyterian News Service.
was the prevalence of electronic
media as a channel of ministry.”
He continues, “Though we were
only at SFTS for one year, our
family of four wishes it had been
longer. What a sweet time.”
Amy Seymour (M.Div.)
lives in So-
noma County, California, with her hus-
band, Dr. Jeff Haney, and has served for
more than seven years as pastor of Wind-
sor Presbyterian Church.
SFTS CHIMES | Summer 2013
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