General Seminary trustees release first statement on conflict

Via email:

Yesterday, after much prayer and deliberation and after consulting our legal council, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of The General Theological Seminary voted with great regret to accept the resignations of eight members of the Seminary faculty.


The Board came to this decision with heavy hearts, but following months of internal divisions around the future direction of General Seminary, some faculty member’s demands for action not possible under the governing structure of the Seminary, and the eight faculty members’ refusal to teach, attend meetings, or even worship, it has become clear that this is the best path forward in educating our students and shaping them into leaders of the church. However, even after accepting the resignations, the Seminary is willing to meet with any former faculty member about the possibility of reconsidering the resignation.

Simultaneously, the Board of Trustees is conducting an internal investigation into certain allegations of statements made by the Dean and President. Further comment on the investigation, pending its outcome, would not help that process. We encourage everyone to withhold any further judgment or comment.

The primary concern of General Seminary continues to be the education and formation of our students. The Church is counting on us. This week Dean Dunkle and the remaining faculty are working on the best ways to continue teaching and advising and to assure all that we will continue to provide quality education and formation with the least amount of interruption possible. Our location in the heart of New York City affords us access to a wide range of resources, and we shall be drawing upon those resources to address any needs created by these resignations. We will share specifics with our students as these plans unfold.

Yesterday’s decision was not easy. For nearly 200 years, General Seminary has prepared more than 7,000 men and women as leaders in the Church. Dean Dunkle has helped that mission thrive as we advance it through the 21st century. While we may sometimes disagree, the commitment to our current students is a responsibility that the Board takes seriously. It is for their well-being alone that we came to this resolution, and pray that our decision was the right one.

The Board of Trustees

The General Theological Seminary

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9 Comments
  1. Gregory Orloff

    “Consulting our legal council” or “consulting our legal counsel”? Does GTS have a body called the Legal Council? Higher education, anyone?

  2. Peter Pearson

    I’m not sure Gregory’s comment was helpful but I hear his anger and hurt. Perhaps it is time to lay it all down and close General Seminary with some grace and dignity while there’s still some left. I’m sorry to say this but maybe it is time.

  3. Peggy Blanchard +

    This communique focuses solely on maintaining the education schedule. We Christians are called to work for reconciliation, regardless of whether we are “right” or not. Simply casting off the faculty’s request to meet with the board seems disingenuous at best.

  4. Kevin Montgomery

    Note to current GTS students: Take this as a lesson on how NOT to run things in your parishes.

  5. Kevin Montgomery

    “However, even after accepting the resignations, the Seminary is willing to meet with any former faculty member about the possibility of reconsidering the resignation.”

    Translation: “We’ll consider hiring you back on contract.”

  6. William Hammond

    Isn’t it disingenuous for the Dean and the Board to characterize the strike actions as resignations? If, in the end, eight of the eleven faculty members are removed, there is no seminary left. It’s outrageous.

  7. William Hammond

    There appears to be a website representing the viewpoint of the eight members of the faculty, where I find, in part:

    BEGIN QUOTE

    Dean Dunkle’s public manner of expression seriously discomforts us and diminishes the reputation of the institution. Specifically, his references to women, non-white cultures, and the LGBT community are absolutely inimical to the commitments of our church. He once described Asian transit passengers in the San Francisco Bay area as “slanty-eyed.” In a large community meeting last spring, he compared the technical side of theological education to “looking up women’s skirts.” Before several faculty members and students, he spoke, as an obvious act of intimidation, of how “black people can do such interesting things with their hair,” a comment about which students complained. On several occasions he has stated that General Seminary should not be “the gay seminary.” And he frequently stresses that the institution should emphasize “normal people.” We have consistently communicated to him that such language undercuts our practices of hospitality and inclusion of those who are gay and lesbian, people of color, those who are differently-abled, or socially non-conformist. When we have brought these matters to his attention, he often denies having made the statements despite the existence of numerous witnesses, and he refuses to acknowledge the impact his actions have on others.

    END QUOTE

    The website is at the URL:

    http://www.safeseminary.org/

    and the quoted excerpt is from

    http://www.safeseminary.org/how-we-got-here.html

    If these allegations are true, not only should the Dean be removed but also he should be inhibited from the exercise of ministry for at least several years.

  8. Karen Johanns

    As much as it pains this liberal ol’ lesbian priest to say it, I can’t help but notice that much of the language coming from the BoT is strikingly similar to the language that came from 815 when dealing with dissident clergy and dioceses. Have we absorbed so much of the litigiousness of the last 10 years that we have now turned it on each other?

    Fire away.

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