|"No Turning Back"|
Copies of No Turning Back are now available in the Cokesbury bookstore on the VTS campus.
"GO YE INTO THE WORLD and Preach the Gospel” has long been the call of Virginia Theological Seminary. The question has been who should go and to whom should they preach. For over 140 years of its existence, VTS’ call was for white men to engage in ministry. Only in the last sixty years has VTS even allowed black students to enroll. The story and struggle of many of the students is told here in this book in their voice.
True transformation and true engagement in a ministry to white and black requires an understanding of our history as brothers and sisters in Christ. The history of the black presence at both Bishop Payne Divinity School (BPDS), the Episcopal Church’s seminary for blacks and the VTS is one of faith, courage and sacrifice and this history must be honored. This history must be understood and celebrated as we seek to empower a new generation of new leaders. We must engage in this transforming process to ensure that we have people of African descent in the Episcopal Church 20 years from now. Each generation has a choice to make in how history is made and shaped and the challenge for this generation is to examine its own transformative powers.
Beginning with its first student, James Solomon Russell, BPDS has produced significant religious leaders for the Episcopal Church. These men and women have served in various capacities throughout the United States and the world. Their efforts expanded the African American Episcopal Church and encouraged new priests to enter the ministry.
It wasn’t until 1951 that the first African American student was allowed to enroll in the Master in Divinity program at VTS. John T. Walker left a legacy at VTS and in the Episcopal Church that generations of religious leaders must strive to emulate. This book honors those who finally had the courage to discern that the time had come for VTS to fully live out its creed for all of its brothers and sisters to “go ye into all the world and preach the gospel.” As VTS moves into the 21st century, it is imperative that the Seminary leads the way in repairing past wrongs for the betterment of the larger Body of Christ, the Church. VTS has the resources, the faculty, students, the alumni, and must use them wisely in shaping leaders for the Church with boldness and courage. VTS must be the place where people of all creeds, languages and ethnic backgrounds engage in a ministry that will bring life and hope to a world starving to feel the love of God and to know God’s purpose for their lives.