Board offers to meet with faculty, GTS alumni call for investigation

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The General Seminary has posted a letter from Bishop Mark Sisk, chair of the board of trustees, to eight striking faculty members whose employment the board has ended, proposing to meet with them on October 16 after an investigation into the allegations the faculty has made into the conduct of Dean Kurt Dunkle has been completed.


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Meanwhile, alumni from the classes 1972-1987 have written to the board saying that they do not agree with the board’s assessment that the striking faculty members have effectively resigned. The alumni also ask why a Title IV disciplinary investigation into the allegations the faculty has made against the dean has not yet begun.

Additional alumni have signed the letter since its original publication and those names are not included here.

Dear Bishop Sisk and Members of the Board of Trustees of The General Theological Seminary:

We are members of The General Theological Seminary’s classes of 1972 through 1987. We are no strangers to pain and conflict in Chelsea Square. Ours were the years when the General Convention passed the ordination of women and Rachel Hosmer became the first woman to celebrate the Eucharist in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. Ours were the years when petitions against Roland Foster remaining dean were brought to the Board of Trustees, and eventually he returned to using his considerable gifts as a church historian and professor. Ours were the years when HIV-AIDS first took the lives of our classmates’ partners or our classmates themselves. So we write to you at this painful, present time first of all with the assurance that the Way of the Cross is the path to Resurrection.

We also want to join the requests of other alumni and alumnae to proceed thoughtfully, prayerfully, transparently, and in carefully outlined order to consider the grievances of the 8 faculty who have presented their concerns to you in writing. We agree with them that their letters in no wise offer you their resignations. While it is possible for you to simply stand behind the authority vested in the Dean and President, we do not feel this course is appropriate conflict resolution. Nor does it carry the likelihood of knitting together a community of redemption in Chelsea Square. We caution you, too, to remember that what is legal is not always what is moral nor what is best.

We also wish to add a request we have not yet seen elsewhere: The allegations concerning the Dean and President noted in the faculty letter are allegations of clergy misconduct. We believe you are quite correct in retaining advisers to investigate those allegations with respect to the seminary as a work place. However, the allegations must also be brought to the bishop in the diocese of Dean Dunkle’s canonical residency. His bishop can and must invoke whatever the policies and processes are in his diocese for dealing with allegations of clergy misconduct. All of us who are ordained would expect nothing less to happen in our own situations.

Finally we also want to point to the needs of our world: Many people, particularly youth and young adults, tell us they are hesitant if willing at all to participate in religion in general and our churches in particular. Our younger generations do not remember a time when clergy abuse and misconduct scandals did not fill the headlines. Nor do they remember a time before mention of religious faiths and institutions in the news was associated primarily with the tragic and radical actions of groups ranging from the Westboro Baptist Church to ISIS. Some of us have already been contacted by reporters asking our comments and insights about what is happening at “our” seminary. For the sake of Christ’s ministry in the world He came to save, please seek creative, faithful ways to represent this crisis in the media. Please be proactive by offering news releases and clear, open communication that shares the truth with hope and faith.

You have our prayers, our hope, and our availability if there are ways we can be of help.

Joel A. MacCollam, of the Class of 1972

Martha Blacklock, of the Class of 1976

Susan P. Mills, of the Class of 1976

Paul R. Abernathy, of the Class of 1977

D. Corbet Clark, of the Class of 1977

Elizabeth Habecker, of the Class of 1977

John Charles Cochrane, of the Class of 1978

Edward J. Henley, of the Class of 1978

David G. Newcombe, of the Class of 1978

Marcus T. Crapsey, II, of the Class of 1979

David Duncan, of the Class of 1979

Patricia E. Henking, of the Class of 1979

Cynthia Logan Shattuck, of the Class of 1979

Stuart E. Money, of the Class of 1979

Joseph Pace, of the Class of 1979

Patrick A. Pierce, of the Class of 1979

Christopher A. Smith, of the Class of 1979

Priscilla Wood, of the Class of 1979

Stephen H. Applegate, of the Class of 1980

David Klutterman, of the Class of 1980

Vesta Kowalski, of the Class of 1981

Carlton F. Kelley, of the Class of 1982

Gregory B. Larkin, of the Class of 1982

Lynne Dawson McQuade, of the Class of 1982

Lydia A. Edwards, of the Class of 1982

Andrew T. Gerns, of the Class of 1982

Reid D. Farrell, Jr., of the Class of 1982

John Kimball Saville III, of the Class of 1982

Gregory Larking, of the Class of 1982

Teresa Payne Gocha, of the Class of 1987

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Meanwhile, alumni from the classes 1972-1987 have written to the board saying that they do not agree with the board’s assessment that the striking faculty members have effectively resigned. The alumni also ask why a Title IV disciplinary investigation into the allegations the faculty has made against the dean has not yet begun.

Additional alumni have signed the letter since its original publication and those names are not included here.

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Isaac Everett
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That's a solid move by the board. An off-the-record, face-to-face meeting without lawyers seems like a much-needed step. Bonus points if they start the meeting by praying together (and for each other).

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Millie Ericson
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Millie Ericson

I applaud the suggestions and recommendations of the alumni. I trust the Board will take them to heart as they consider this difficult situation.

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