In the ongoing negative reaction to the Board of Trustees’s decision on Friday not to reinstate the forcibly-resigned professors and to fully support the controversial dean, today, the Alumni/ae Executive Committee of the seminary issued the following statement, available on their Facebook page:
October 20th, 2014
An Open Letter to General Seminary’s Board of Trustees:
We the members of the Alumni Executive Committee continue to be heart broken by the events and the actions that have transpired at General over the last few weeks and shattered our community. When conflicts escalate to this level it is hard not to give in to raw emotion, pain and blame. Calm, rational thinking becomes an item in short supply. We are acutely aware that this is the case now. Lines have been drawn, positions taken, sides chosen, and rhetoric shifted to inflict maximum harm and grief. We are not immune to the intense emotions and reactions.
Amidst this reality, we are striving to find productive and positive ways to stay in a relationship that is on the verge of being severed. As is also the case in events like this, the whole truth is not known. The silence its absence creates opens the way for speculation, rumor, doubt and mistrust at their greatest depths. Everyone is suspect and every side fortified by frustration and anticipation that the other intends to mislead.
The recent action of the Board has been met with dismay by many across the Church. We have listened as the Bishop and people of the Diocese of California, meeting in Convention, adopted a resolution opposing the Board’s actions. Bishop Thomas Breidenthal, of Southern Ohio, a former faculty member at GTS, and Bishop Andy Dietsche of New York, himself a current Board Member, have voiced significant concerns about the Board’s actions. You must realize that the call for the Board to reverse its actions is gaining momentum.
We denounce the tactical handling of these matters by all parties. We are called by God to model a different way of being. Where in this is respect for the dignity of every human being? Where are we seeking Christ? What practical steps have you taken or proposed toward reconciliation with any of the constituencies involved – faculty, alumni, students, or the Church at large? In conflicts such as these many differing interventions are necessary for reconciliation. We see no sign from you of this. We beseech the Board of Trustees to make those plans known so that we might cling to hope rather than give in to despair.
With all possible grace and intent for healing and reconciliation we expect the Board of Trustees to offer a direct and official response/explanation to each of the points we have raised in our two letters to you. Your failure to do so to this point makes it extremely difficult for us to resist filling the void with our own narratives. To this end, we reiterate our request for the Executive Committee or other representatives of the Board to meet in person with the Alumni Executive Committee at some time during on Nov. 5 & 6. This will be a sign to us of the Board of Trustee’s willingness to reconcile with us as a faithful constituency and as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Furthermore, the present condition of the student body and their formation must be tended to and addressed immediately. We ask that the Board of Trustees employ additional resources for pastoral care to them and their families. In addition, a clear plan must be communicated that speaks to the fact that their educational and spiritual development as leaders is at a stand still.
While the question of the ability of current leadership to see us through this crisis is still in doubt, we call for broad support of the seminary’s mission and future and ask that all parties recast the rhetoric of death that is currently infecting the tone of this ongoing conversation.
The Board of Trustees’ rapid response to this letter will be a first step toward renewing our confidence in them and in the future of the seminary.
The Very Rev. Daniel Ade, ‘92
The Rev. Hannah E. Atkins, ‘96
The Rev. Annette M. Chappell, ’03, Secretary
The Rev. Patricia S. Downing, ’95, Vice-President
The Very Rev. Mark Goodman, ‘91
Ms. Rachele Grieco, ‘07
The Rev. Roxane Gwyn, ‘10
The Rev. Canon Jadon D. Hartsuff, ‘12
The Rev. Gregory B. Larkin, ‘82
The Rev. Brandt Leonard Montgomery, ‘12
The Rev. Mark B. Pendleton, ‘91
The Rev. Marguerite Henninger Steadman, ‘97
The Rev. Brian Sullivan, ‘97
The Rev. Sam Tallman, ‘12
The Rev. Dr. R. Scott White, ’96 President
The Rev. Susan L. Wrathall, ‘06
This evening, the Alumni/ae Executive Committee also announced that the planned Alumni Gathering scheduled to be held November 5-6 has been cancelled. Instead, alumni are invited to gather at General for a facilitated conversation about the events that have taken place at the seminary, and the way forward. There will also be a memorial Eucharist celebrated. Information on the new plans for the gathering can be found on the Alumni page.
The Alumni/ae Executive Committee also noted that the Board of Trustees Executive Committee agreed to meet with them, as earlier requested in their statement.