Hope for theological education and GTS

A full day and two parts of days have passed since our little group posted the statement below on safeseminary.org and shared it around. No word from the Board of Trustees. Period. We are hopeful people. We believe that theological education is a serious business, turning out fearless disciples of Jesus Christ is important enough to stand up for. General Theological Seminary is a beautiful place where God is worshiped and the depths and the riches of millennia of Christian discipleship are explored. But it is not, and never has been, about the past. Ordination is for the church moving forward, for those babies being baptized, for people struggling in their faith and finding authentic ways to live in confusing times. Ordination is for serving people who are in pain, or sorrow, or who need to be affirmed in celebrating the joy that breaks into their lives with the grace of God or the goodness of creation. The people who prepare for ordination, need to be prepared to be patient, and listening, and fearless in telling the truth in love.

Theological education for the church of the future is vitally important, and it can still happen at the General Theological Seminary. But I am confident, that whatever happens, the church moving forward will have, and must have vital theological education, forming Christian leaders who will build disciples of Jesus in this very changed time for religious institutions.

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Here’s our statement of October 9, 2014:

We are dismayed by the response of our church’s leaders to the situation at General Theological Seminary. When the eight of us brought to the Board of Trustees what we believe are extremely important issues affecting the fundamental life and mission of our seminary, we expected them to follow the procedures set out in both the seminary handbooks and our church canons. We believed they would establish a safe and non-hostile environment in which to carry out an impartial investigation. Instead, neither these procedures nor the substance of our concerns was honored. We received only a compassionless and intimidating demand that we cooperate with a corporate law firm’s investigation.

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?

We continue to hope – and believe – that our trust and confidence in the commitment to mercy and justice of the leaders of this great church are well founded, even if those qualities are not yet clearly evident. We have now agreed to a meeting with the Board of Trustees and stand ready to return to our work once they are prepared to reinstate us.

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