Friday, February 22, 2008

Seabury Prayers

Distressing news about Seabury, my seminary alma mater, has been floating around for a day or so now. In short, they have elected to end the 3-year M.Div program, suspend all admissions, and make alternative arrangements for current masters/certificate students to complete their degrees while the Planning Committee does its work to figure out the "what next" of theological education. The details of this, through the Dean's official letter, can be found here. Its worth reading all the way through.

"Mixed emotions" might be the only way to describe my reaction fairly - though, in that mix, I'm not finding much positive right now. I'm worried for friends trying to get through the ordination process, who don't need added complications to an already-complicated system. I'm very worried for friends whose careers and livelihoods have huge question marks hanging over them. I'm concerned and sad that the institution that formed me for ministry might cease to exist, despite the best efforts of people who love it and work on its behalf.

Beyond my concerns for these folks, though, I am concerned about the larger church. Twice now (at least), General Convention has essentially ignored the cries that our seminaries need a new way to fund preparation for ministry. In a sermon earlier this week, the Dean commented that
"It would be injudicious of me to compare the Episcopal Church to scribes and Pharisees, so please don’t call your bishops and tell them I did; but it does seem to me that the institutional church has laid on all of us seminaries burdens which it is not itself willing to help us bear. The church has fewer students and no money with which to support us, and yet it it continues to demand that we behave in certain historical institutional ways."
I believe that there is need for traditional seminary education. I believe that there is value in face-to-face classroom experience. I believe that the Church needs leaders who have learned to debate in a classroom and then share evening worship and dinner. But I believe that the seminaries cannot continue to do this as lone operators. Until the Episcopal Church finds a way to support formation for ordained ministry, this will not be the last dean's letter like this.

Please pray for this community, and for the church.


Emily said...

Amen, amen, amen.

The Lovely Wife said...

Well put! What the rev and I gleaned from being at Seminary was definitely worth being there. I was very saddened by the news and am still not sure what to make of it all. Your post however summed it up nicely. Thank you for putting words to my thoughts.

frog said...

Holy crap.

apbs said...

ouch. i hadn't heard this. i'm so sorry.