Jesuit magazine criticizes GTS trustees’ response to striking faculty

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In an essay for America, the Jesuit weekly, Nathan Schneider places the ongoing crisis at General Theological Seminary in the context of labor relations in higher education.

He writes: [The] crisis is not GTS’s alone. It is a crisis for any community of faith in which cherished rights are being twisted into excuses for repression.


The article includes this statement from the eight faculty members:

Even now, as we have lost our jobs for continuing to plead that these matters be addressed honorably, we cannot believe that our Presiding Bishop, the entire House of Bishops, and the good people who serve as trustees of GTS truly intend to punish those who have brought these issues to their attention. Nor do we think that they actually want to support and defend an environment of fear and anxiety that so many have told us they experience as humiliating. If they did intend to do these things, what message are they sending to Episcopal clergy and lay persons? What would this say about the church’s respect for the vulnerable all around our country? What would this say about the moral conscience of our church’s leaders?

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tyrdofwaitin
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I prefer to use the conditions that gave rise to the American Labor Movements as the analogous paradigm for the doings at GTS.

Many ancient institutions, like the seminary/academy still hold authoritarian views of power and control. And when the workers unite around an injustice, the response is often stiff-necked and brutal like we've seen recently. I guess what sets GTS apart from the academy per se, is that it is a Christian institution that purports to cradle a significant portion of future Christianity, at least Episcopal Christianity.

How are we understand the unraveling of GTS, the oldest seminary in the United States which is now approaching 200. How are we to understanding the egregious shortcomings the seminary Dean? How are we to understand a Trustee Board unwilling, and perhaps unable, to hold a conversation with its faculty? How are we to understand the implosion of GTS as if lving out some kind of death wish? It can be saved by some mitigating force.

The Trustees won't and so something or someone should.

The Trustee Board, and those on the sideline in positions of power, appear powerless to stop its demise and i ask, who's in charge here?

God and the Holy Spirit, of course. But we are blocking their access. We have become stumbling blocks to God's purpose.

Will anyone muster the courage to remove the GTS stumbling blocks.

[tyrdofwaitin - please sign your full name when you comment here-- thanks, editor]

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Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

I cannot comment on the particulars of the GTS situation about which I know nothing. Nor am I familiar with U.S. federal labor law.

However, the general theme of the right to organize in a religious context is of interest. Several years ago I spear headed a move to unionize parish clergy in my diocese. It was an education, coming from a blue collar culture. Many of the pious bunnies protested, behind the scenes of course, that unions were "unchristian". An auxiliary bishop who liked to talk about "his" clergy said that if clergy launched a job action, would anyone notice? The diocese protested that it already had a "clergy wellness" committee, which as far as I could tell was an HR intervention focused on diocesan control over the talking points.

Intimidation, control, and yes even oppression take many forms, and the church and its judicatories are experts at passive aggressive counter measures, quite skilled at making people feel that any challenge to their way of doing business is akin to smutty sin on your soul. don't know if this is applicable to the situation at hand, but in churchland in general, five will get you ten I'm in the ball park.

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David Allen
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David Allen

There was a time that I defended your Presiding Bishop to on line friends, almost to their irritation, some of whom post here.

Not so much any more. She (like Obama) is very disappointing at times. I feel that she lets folks down often.

Bro David

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