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General Theological Seminary bishops issue statement to House of Bishops

General Theological Seminary bishops issue statement to House of Bishops

At the General Theological Seminary, bishops serving on the GTS Board of Trustees have written a letter to the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church regarding progress made in a year of change and controversy in Chelsea Square:

 

We have all learned a great deal about mutuality, deep listening, repentance and servant leadership. So we ask God’s grace as we seek to become a more true witness to the virtues carved into the stones of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd.

All of which brings us to this moment and this letter. We write not only to ask your prayers or to provide explanation, though both are essential. We write to welcome you to commit with us to a journey. Your input and your support of GTS – the first seminary of The Episcopal Church – will be vital to our efforts to test new approaches and create new models for seminary education.

As efforts continue, we are gratified and encouraged by clear signs of progress:

  • Dozens of applications were submitted for fall 2015, and we anticipate welcoming a full complement of students in September whose intelligence, experience, maturity and eagerness will contribute to the remaking of a seminary.
  • The Association of Theological Schools conducted a rigorous evaluation of General Seminary this winter and issued a positive assessment and accreditation, with strong encouragement for several initiatives and helpful suggestions for our future development.
  • The Wisdom Year pilot project launched last fall, and most of the rising senior class will partake starting this fall. Serving in sites across the region but still living on campus, these residents will spend their final year of seminary in ministry less like traditional field education and more akin to a curacy with ample supervision and reflection … and all coupled with compensation adequate to pay for the year’s tuition and basic housing.
  • The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center’s work from October to May has provided the entire school with tools and practices to examine our common life and rebuild trust. We plan to use these practices and others to form a culture that is more faithful, open, honest and healthy. The LMPC will continue that journey with us next year.
  • We will miss the presence of some seasoned faculty who have served the seminary faithfully for years, but one of the graces of our location and reputation is that many well-respected academic and church professionals are excited to join in teaching and formation at General Seminary this fall and beyond.
  • We have turned our gaze outward and are exploring partnerships and alignments with other seminaries and church organizations. For instance, a new partnership with the United Thank Offering will bring returning young missionaries to General Theological Seminary to live and work, bridging the wisdom of global mission and local engagement.

The Episcopal Church is not the same church it was 100, 50 or even 10 years ago. Life has changed; our contexts for mission and ministry have changed. Systems must be more agile, adaptive and lean. These are not buzzwords; they are signs of a fundamental paradigm shift. As Episcopalians, we carry catholic, time-honored traditions into relationship with these changing environments, and we ask our seminaries to prepare leaders who are capable of engaging this dance between ancient and future.

We are convinced that General Theological Seminary has a special witness to make in our church and in the world. Can historic, catholic traditions come to new life in a wired, multicultural, spiritual-but-not-religious age? Yes they can. As General turns toward resurrection, we hope to share the good news and inspire others in our church to risk, listen and be transformed for the sake of the gospel, along with us.

We ask you to join us and send your students to train as Christian leaders in a school uniquely dedicated to transformation and excellence. Please feel free to contact any of us to discuss this letter and our hopes for the future of General Theological Seminary and our Church.

 

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, III

The Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche

The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer

The Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller

The Rt. Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano

The Rt. Rev. Stacy F. Sauls

The Rt. Rev. William H. Stokes

The Rt. Rev. Eugene T. Sutton

 

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Susan Mills

I was outraged in September when I read of the GTS8's concerns about Mr. Dunkle's leadership style, as well as his alleged racist and misogynist comments. I was angry when the GTS8 were fired, then re-hired for a few months without benefit of their earned tenure. I am disturbed by this letter whose signatories include names of bishops I have respected. The letter contains untruths, as well as insinuations that the GTS8 were not open to change.

I'm most unhappy by the complete lack of transparency that leaves all of us who love and care about our alma mater guessing and wondering and feeling, sadly, distanced from the place that formed us to serve God in the Church. This silence, along with Mr. Dunkle's dictatorial leadership, under the direction of the GTS Board of Trustees, has alienated those of us who could have been GTS' greatest supporters.

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Susan Russell

Kind of interesting that this is out the same day Andy Doyle writes his "just leave it all to the bishops and we'll make everything fine" blog post. I'm thinking not-so-much.

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June Butler

Exactly, Susan Russell.

"...we ask our seminaries to prepare leaders who are capable of engaging this dance between ancient and future."

The danse macabre for GTS. Seriously, bishops...

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Anthony Christiansen

The GTS Bishop's letter brought this entire scandal into a new, more closed position for me. It says clearly that this chapter is over and done with, we won, and now let's march on, Christian soldiers. I think that's why I am now much more aggrieved than angry, which I was before this. This letter completely crushes my vision of a Church that effectively opposes with the gospel the crass, corporatized social reality we all inhabit, says no to the lie, upholds the integrity of our struggles and victories along the road to salvation. In the current living and breathing narrative, the Church has become the corporatized monster, giving credence, even evidence to the theory, everywhere present in our world, that the best spin determines what is right and what is wrong. It actually goes even further than that. It creates reality anew with its public relations and demands that others become lockstep with the lie become the truth. Lord have mercy upon us all.

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Professor Christopher Seitz

What a total mess.

Huge debts.
Failed money-making schemes in Chelsea.
Shrinking student population.
Buildings sold off.
The odor of depletion and dispiritedness.

One should be surprised they are able to recruit new faculty at all.

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Scott Hoogerhyde

Mac Gatch is certainly right to note the bishops all being male & the smarmy prose. Words actually _mean_ something but we've so abused the language of the gospel & the church (& this letter is an example of that) is it any wonder that we're starting to look more like a dying cult than a living church? We talk about attracting Millennials. I think we sound to them like the adults in Peanuts cartoons. The only thing positive, if you can call it that, that's come out of this is _entirely_ selfish on my part. I though I not longer gave a damn. It turns out I do & my heart is broken. Again.

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