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‘Witness to women’

“Teaching is not just unloading ideas that you have organized in a lecture—it’s engaging different people in different ways,” reflects Antoinette “Anne” Clark Wire, a longtime member of the core doctoral faculty at the Graduate Theological Union, pictured here with her husband, Hugh Wire ’87 (D.Min.).

Antoinette “Anne” Clark Wire had her first introduction to San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS) as a child when her father William Harold Clark ’23 (B.D.) brought her and her two sisters to visit the campus in San Anselmo. “I got a kick out of going into the dining room and seeing his picture,” says Anne, who was raised in China during her parents’ missionary work. “We walked on the holy hill and saw where he went to school.”

During her undergraduate years at Pomona College, Anne met Hugh Wire ’87 (D.Min.), and the couple married seven years later in 1959. Anne went to Germany on a Fulbright Scholarship and completed her Bachelor of Divinity degree at Yale Divinity School. After working in the inner-city housing projects of New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts, the couple relocated to North Carolina and then returned to California, where Anne attended Claremont Graduate University to earn her doctorate.

“In those days, there were no women ministers in our church, but more and more women were preparing for ministry and were demanding women teachers,” says Anne. “When I saw the job opening at SFTS, it was just the kind of opportunity I had hoped for.”

Starting as a lecturer, Anne taught at SFTS for 31 years and eventually was named the Robert S. Dollar Professor of New Testament Studies. “Teaching is not just unloading ideas that you have organized in a lecture,” reflects Anne, a longtime member of the core doctoral faculty at the Graduate Theological Union. “It’s engaging different people in different ways.”

When she arrived at SFTS, Anne recalls there was only one other woman who was teaching. “When I retired, almost half the faculty were women.” Hugh recalls how “groundbreaking” it was when Anne received tenure, as she was only the second woman to have done so at a Presbyterian seminary. “It was the beginning of a cultural change,” he says.

In 2004, Distant Voices Drawing Near was published as a tribute to Anne’s scholarly career, featuring a collection of essays from SFTS professors and students on several themes, including the role of women in the biblical world and feminist perspectives in biblical interpretation. Since she retired from SFTS, Anne has written two more books: The Case for Mark Composed in Performance on the Gospel of Mark and a book on Second Corinthians for the Wisdom Commentary Series. “I want to help people see the ways in which the New Testament is a book that is witness to women’s active roles in the life of Christ and the early Church community,” says Anne.

Now residing with Hugh at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California, Anne is taking Chinese courses at Pomona College (an echo to her upbringing) and tending to her vegetable garden. She and Hugh continue to be longtime philanthropic supporters of SFTS. “The Seminary is an important institution, and we are pleased that its new directions are so promising,” says Hugh. “We hope University of Redlands continues to understand and build upon its history.” Anne considers their support of SFTS to be an “excellent investment” and wants to see its good work continue and grow in the new merger with Redlands.

“SFTS has been very loyal to and supportive of us,” says Hugh. “And we are loyal and supportive back.”

Learn more about SFTS and the U of R Graduate School of Theology or for information on how you can give to SFTS like the Wires have please contact Molly Widdicombe, director of development, at 415-451-2805 or molly_widdicombe@redlands.edu, or visit www.redlands.edu/supportSFTS.