The Rev. Canon Dr. Titus Presler is the new Principal of Edwardes College in Peshawar, the Rt. Rev. Humphrey Sarfaraz Peters, Bishop of Peshawar, has announced as the appointing authority. Dr. Presler took up his duties on 1 May 2011 at the century-old college of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students.
“At this juncture, when our region is going through the most difficult time in the history of Pakistan, the college needs experienced and dependable leadership,” Bp. Peters said. “Based on Christian values, Edwardes has all the potential to become a premier international educational institution, and we are confident that with Dr. Presler’s leadership this dream will be realized.”
“As a church institution, Edwardes has much to contribute to the formation of young Pakistani professionals at a sensitive time in the country’s national and religious life,” Canon Presler said. “It will be a privilege to serve God’s mission through higher education with Muslims, Christians and others in an intensely inter-religious environment.”
Professor Naseem Haider Kazmi served as Acting Principal from May 2010 following the five-year service of the Rev. Dr. David Gosling and continues as Senior Vice Principal. “I am very grateful for Professor Naseem’s wise and gracious guidance,” Dr. Presler said, “and for the other management team members who work with me: Vice Principal Kalim Ullah, Administrative Officer Francis Karamat, and Finance Director Fahim Khan.”
Canon Presler was selected for the position after a national and international search conducted by an inter-religious committee formed by the college Board of Governors, which is chaired by the Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
Dr. Presler brings to the position a background of academic and church leadership, scholarly productivity, and cross-cultural and inter-religious engagement.
As President of the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, where he was Professor of Mission and World Christianity, Dr. Presler oversaw development of a detailed strategic plan and completion of an $8.1 million capital campaign. Renewed collaboration with dioceses of the southwest, development of a Hispanic ministry concentration, and intentional global engagement were other highlights of this ministry. Five new faculty were called, and a comprehensive faculty handbook and new bylaws were developed and implemented. The first part of a major building program was completed, and a long dormant endowment campaign to establish a preaching professorship was revived and later completed.
As SubDean and Vice President for Academic Affairs at General Theological Seminary in New York City, Dr. Presler energized consultation in faculty committees, initiated a broad-based curriculum review, and developed an academic program in mission and world Christianity. He organized two major conferences at the then newly opened Desmond Tutu Center: "Reconciliation at the Roundtable: God's Call in the 21st Century" and "An Anglican Covenant: Divisive or Reconciling?”. He earlier taught at Harvard Divinity School and at Episcopal Divinity School, both in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
While Canon Titus was rector of St. Peter’s Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts, for 11 years, the previously declining inner-city parish became a growing and diverse congregation dynamically engaged in mission in its urban community and the wider world. More recently he was interim pastor of the Church of St. Simon the Cyrenian in New Rochelle, New York, and he earlier served several other congregations. He was for five terms a deputy to the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, and he chaired the church’s Standing Commission on World Mission.
As a mission scholar, Dr. Presler has written on the theology and practice of Christian mission and on gospel-culture interactions in African Christianity. His most recent book, Going Global with God: Reconciling Mission in a World of Difference (Morehouse, 2010), focuses on ecumenical trends today and on how engaging difference is the mark of mission. In addition to many articles, he is the author of Horizons of Mission (Cowley, 2001) and Transfigured Night: Mission and Culture in Zimbabwe’s Vigil Movement (University of South Africa Press, 1999). He was a researcher for the Global Anglicanism Project and a consultant for the Anglican Indaba Project.
Dr. Presler and his wife, the Rev. Jane Butterfield, an honorary canon of St. John’s Cathedral, Peshawar, served as rural missionaries at Bonda in Zimbabwe in the 1980s. Their home in the USA is in Vermont, and they are the parents of four grown children. Dr. Presler was born and grew up in India, where his parents Henry and Marion Presler taught at Leonard Theological College in Jabalpur. In 2009 he was made honorary canon of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. He blogs at http://TitusOnMission.wordpress.com.
Dr. Presler is an honors graduate of Harvard College and later studied and taught at Harvard Divinity School. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from General Seminary and a Doctor of Theology degree from Boston University. His honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees are from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and from General.