Written by Charles Zimmerman
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 00:00
Where have they gone & where are they now?
For the past year, I have been issuing updates on the founding faculty members of Biblical Seminary to see where they are today and what they are doing. I hope you have enjoyed catching up.
Before I move on to other topics, I thought I would contact a few other long-term faculty members to see where they are and what they are doing these days. This post updates us on James Pakala, Biblical’s first librarian.
Jim was the librarian when I arrived as a student. The first time I walked into the library office, I saw a tall man and short woman both wearing surgical masks. I wondered if I somehow made a wrong turn and entered an operating room rather than the library circulation room. I soon discovered that the tall man was James Pakala, Biblical’s meticulous librarian and the short woman was his conscientious wife Denise.
I must admit that I was sad the day Jim informed me that he was leaving Biblical and headed to Covenant Seminary. He’s still there, by the way, as you will see if you keep reading.
1. What years did you teach at Biblical?
Arriving at Biblical early in 1973 to complete my S.T.M. begun at Faith, I was there through July 1991 when we moved to Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. Working at Biblical’s Library, I found both a wife and a career. When Bob Vannoy left for a year in The Netherlands, he recommended that I assume Library oversight and when he returned he did not want to resume that and, at the same time, the State wanted a full-time library director in place. Once state-accredited, we could use “Theological Seminary” as part of our name. Meanwhile, Biblical paid tuition at Drexel so I could get my library degree. Denise Marchand and I were married in 1975 and our son was born in 1979. He’s now married to the former Lacey Childs, who grew up in the St. Louis area where they also live. We loved the many years at Biblical and were active in the pursuit of Middle States accreditation as well as library development and collaboration. Biblical is active in SEPTLA (Southeastern PA Theological Library Assoc.) and during my time as president it was a privilege to lead their 25th anniversary celebration in 1986.
2. What have you been doing since then?
Arriving at Covenant in 1991 we had many challenges and opportunities. Here’s just one. The Library had two computers, one of which had never worked and the other usually worked but did nothing more than link to Concordia Seminary’s catalog, whose records we had to accept “as is” and tag our symbol onto, thereby receiving periodic microfiche that were not very good either for accurate data or user convenience. Thanks to Denise, within two years a project was done that had taken ten years to complete halfway (that project was one of our mandates in coming). We went live with an automated system by 1993, migrated to a new one a few years later, and then around 2000 and thanks to $12 million in State help and sixty universities etc. banding together we gained amazing 21st century systems/services. Meanwhile, God sent outstanding Staff to help with this and much more. All we can say is Deo gratias!
3. Tell a favorite memory from your Biblical days.
When a large tent was pitched on the front lawn for an invite-the-community service, I slept in the tent the night before to provide security. As I recall, someone joined me. Sleep was good as there were no incidents and the weather was great. Another special memory was performing a lakeside wedding for student/alumnus Rick Welsh and his lovely bride.
4. Contact information: email, facebook, etc.
and I’m on Facebook but lack time to look at it much.
I’m sure that Jim would love to hear from you; why not contact him and catch up?
Charles Zimmerman is the Thomas V. Taylor Professor of Practical Theology. He also serves as Teaching Pastor at Calvary Church in Souderton. He is married to Kim and they have two daughters, Ashley and Megan. See alsohttp://biblical.edu/index.php/charles-zimmerman