Episcopal seminaries join hands

The seminaries of The Episcopal Church are reflecting on how to meet the challenges of education and finances in the 21st century. In their current discussion, Convenor of the Deans meeting, The Very Rev. and Dean Ward Ewing of General Theological Seminary, said, “All the deans’ conversations come down to two questions: “How do we work better among ourselves?” and “How do we really serve the Episcopal Church and build a structure that provides mutual insight into how we do theological education in the church that’s emerging today.”

According to a story by Mary Frances Schjonberg in Episcopal Life Online:

Financial difficulties and drastic changes in the role of the Christian church in society are prompting the leaders of the 11 seminaries connected with the Episcopal Church to reconsider theological education.

The seminaries’ Council of Deans has met three times this year already, twice more than its normal annual meeting, to discuss issues facing the seminaries.

While the seminary deans have not always fully cooperated, Ewing said “the idea that we are going to start working together in a more significant way is simply building on a history of very mutual support over the last few years.”

Jefferts Schori told ENS that she is “delighted at the work the deans are doing together.”

“There has been a remarkable shift from a culture of competition to one of cooperation, a shift which represents the best of our tradition,” she said. “Each part of the body, with its different gifts, and working together, can build up the whole. I believe that a new vision for the work of the Episcopal seminaries will include a variety of modes of providing theological education for a variety of ministries within and beyond the church.

“All of it is about an expanded sense of mission, and I expect that this church and the larger community will be abundantly blessed by the work of these seminaries and their leaders.”

During their June meeting at the Episcopal Church Center in New York, the deans used the process of appreciative inquiry to consider each seminary’s strengths. They then discussed how those strengths might be used “in a cooperative way that supports all of us,” Ewing said.

He said distance learning and online education, Spanish-language ministry training, work with congregations and dioceses engaged in total ministry and shared-leadership models of ministry were high on the list. Church Divinity School of the Pacific president and dean Donn Morgan, who was the council’s convener when these conversations began, said another fruitful place for collaboration was seen in the international networks some seminaries have established.

Read it all here

This certainly a change from previous eras and an exciting development. What other ideas can be offered to the seminaries for their future?

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