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Bp of Pennsylvania: Some thoughts on the current moment at the General Theological Seminary and a modest proposal

Bp of Pennsylvania: Some thoughts on the current moment at the General Theological Seminary and a modest proposal

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, 3rd, Bishop Provisional of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania and member of the Board of Trustees has issued the following statement:

The peace of God, it is no peace,

But strife closed in the sod.

Yet let us pray for but one thing,

The marvelous peace of God.

(The Hymnal 1982, #661)

bpdaniel72dpi.jpgThe Peace of God is not simply the absence of conflict. If that were so, then Jesus and Paul led very un-peaceful lives. The Peace of God comes with the presence of the risen Christ who enters conflict willingly through our confession and repentance in order to bring reconciliation, renewal and hope.

I call now for a season of self-examination and repentance as our General Theological Seminary (GTS) community seeks the guidance of Jesus to lead us toward fulfilling his will for this seminary in the current difficult moment.

I am hopeful that the Executive Committee and Board’s invitation to the Faculty to a return to the prior status through the remainder of this academic year will be received in a positive way and that the faculty assume their prior positions. I am encouraged by the decision of the Executive Committee to engage a skilled, qualified Christian mediator who will call the Dean, the Board, the Faculty, Students (and perhaps representatives of the Alumni/ae Association) together to engage in a prayerful, structured and disciplined process of mediation and reconciliation. Following graduation in May 2015, we as a community can come together to determine where we are and where we need to go. Part of the process must be mutual conversation, confession and repentance as necessary steps toward reconciliation.

While we cannot change the past, we can with the guidance of the Holy Spirit seek to redeem the future. Each party in this family quarrel we now experience at the General Theological Seminary (GTS) is called to acknowledge its responsibility and accountability for our present state. I call for a season of self-examination and repentance as our GTS community seeks the presence of Jesus to lead us toward reconciliation.

The Board of Trustees, meeting October 16-17 at GTS carefully reviewed the present situation and its history, heard the report of the law firm investigating allegations against the Dean, met with the Dean privately, with the entire faculty privately, and with the student body and staff. These meetings were intense and often painful. I can say that, based on the evidence I have seen and heard, I believe the decisions and actions of the Board are reasonable and cogent and I continue to support them.

Since personnel issues are involved, the Board is legally constrained in what it can say publicly. I understand that into this enforced silence, it may be tempting for some to speculate and perhaps initiate mischief by assuming knowledge that they do not have. I plead with all members of the GTS community and beyond to refrain from making rash statements based on appearance and assumption without having the benefit of all the facts. I pray that all who are involved or who participate in any way in vicious and wounding attacks towards individuals or groups who are part of the Seminary community either in private communication or on social media will cease this un-Christlike, hurtful and damaging behavior which is contrary to our Baptismal vow to”…protect the dignity of every human being.” (The Book of Common Prayer, page 305)

The Diocese of Pennsylvania currently has five fine students at General Seminary and our Diaconal educational program is situated at the seminary. I have personally visited and spoken with all of our diocesan seminarians and assured them of my ongoing support and concern in this present moment. Our diocese for over two centuries has enjoyed the fruits of the ministry of GTS through its graduates who have faithfully served here in the past and those who do so today. Even in this difficult moment in its life, I continue to have trust in the Dean, Faculty, Students, and the Board of Trustees of this great seminary of our Church, and I urge all Board members, Faculty, Students, Alumni/ae and all who love GTS to continue in this way. As a demonstration of that trust and support, I have this morning put a check into the mail to the seminary and said a prayer as I wrote it. I call on all who read this and who love GTS to do the same.

I pray that the presence of the risen Christ lead us, and that we resolve to follow his footsteps in word and in action.

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, 3rd

Bishop Provisional

Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

October 20, 2014


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Elsie E. Kirton

Bishop Daniel,

Congratulations on your recent election! My Dad was a graduate and received an honorary degree from GTS. He would be so proud to learn of your recent accomplishment!

Sharon Moon

I hope the school can repair the relationships with faculty! This sounds more hopeful!

Sharon Moon

Hopeful news!

William Hammond

I have the impression that the May 2014 bylaws represent a complete overhaul of previous bylaws. It would be helpful if the previous bylaws were placed, with appropriate labeling, at next to the current bylaws so that all members of the community have a chance to grasp what has changed.

A “white paper” explaining the changes would also be helpful.

Murdoch Matthew

This started with the Board’s reading of a demand for consultation as a resignation. If I didn’t miss a step (very likely), the Bishop of Pennsylvania is reading an offer to consider rehiring individuals under new conditions as a step to reinstatement:

I am hopeful that the Executive Committee and Board’s invitation to the Faculty to a return to the prior status through the remainder of this academic year will be received in a positive way and that the faculty assume their prior positions.

The GTS8 statement just released accepting reinstatement with full benefits and status is great; I hope it’s accepted as is. Perhaps previous ungenerosity and intransigence can be left behind.

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