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General Seminary

October 1, 2014

The General Theological Seminary

The General Theological Seminary

ANYONE who is unaware of the deplorable situation playing out at this moment at the General Theological Seminary should become aware right now. Our support is entirely with the members of the faculty who have made a stand, we think, for righteousness in the face of disgraceful leadership. Of those professors known to us, we know them to be as they have said — typically reserved and compliant — and we find the action of the seminary’s board of trustees to be sadly litigious, more in keeping with the worst excesses of the church during the past decade than with the kind of godly humility that ought to be characteristic of those who have taken Holy Orders. As lifelong communicants of the Diocese of New York, we had thought better of Bishop Sisk especially.

We ought to expect more, rather than less, from those in authority in the church, and the escalation of the situation itself is proof positive of the failure of the seminary leadership. Dean Dunkle is responsible both administratively and pastorally to the faculty and students in his charge. He is not the CEO of a private enterprise. He is priest and pastor to those under his authority, and his relations with the faculty trespass against a very Anglican idea: each bishop may be the prince of his diocese, but on the cathedral or seminary close, the dean is primus inter pares, first among equals.

We think especially of the students, whose careers, futures, and lives are tied to this mess. Given the summary dismissal of the eight faculty members who joined in protest, we cannot imagine that the seminary close feels like the kind of place where one can speak freely in these days. And yet we trust that their ministries will be strengthened, as we are reminded of St. Paul, late in his letter to the Romans: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us…. We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:18,28). We pray for the seminarians, as we pray for the faculty, the dean, and the trustees.

For more complete information, please see the links below.

Safe Seminary, the website of the eight dismissed faculty members

Leadership, community, and the current crisis at General Seminary, an excellent and balanced article by the Revd Canon Andrew Gerns

The Madness of Rev. Kurt Dunkle and the Trustees of General Theological Seminary (Huffington Post)

Seeking Dean’s Firing, Seminary Professors End Up Jobless (The New York Times)

Power and authority–at GTS and in the church, a fine reflection by the Revd Jesse Zink about what’s really going on (expanding on our point about the “worst excesses of the church”)


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One Comment leave one →
  1. The Rev. Philip A. College permalink
    October 1, 2014 16:01

    Thank you for positing this. Your phrase “disgraceful leadership” is right on. Philip College, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Worthington, OH

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