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VTS Joins the Green Seminary Initiative; Announces Creation of the “Kreitler Cup”

1/16/2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Curtis Prather
Tel: 703-461-1782
Email: cprather@vts.edu

Alexandria, Va. - Virginia
Theological Seminary announces today that it is joining more than 45 other seminaries already involved in the Green Seminary Initiative (GSI).

“If Virginia Theological Seminary can be institutionally green,” said VTS Dean and President, the Very Rev. Ian Markham, Ph.D. “Then it can become a model. And, slowly, others can see the possibilities.”

According to GSI, the purpose encourages the education of seminarians and the “greening” of seminaries in five broad areas: education, worship, buildings and grounds, community life, and public ministry. To mark the Seminary’s involvement, a profile of the school will be featured on the organization’s website and in an upcoming newsletter.

This is the latest endeavor VTS is making in its commitment to involve faculty and staff toward a greener campus, and prepare its future leaders of the church in eco-justice issues in the congregations and communities that they will serve.

Beginning in 2007, with the “Water of Life” lecture series, VTS sponsored a series of environmental lectures, several of which were produced into DVDs. In 2009 the Seminary made a move to ensure that all new campus housing is LEED certified, and in 2012 the Seminary recognized the work of Robert A.M. Stern Architects in the environmentally conscious work being made in the designs of the new Immanuel Chapel.

In Oct. 2013, under the leadership of the Rev. David Gortner, Ph.D., the director of the doctor of ministry program, a group of VTS faculty, staff and students visited and toured Loomis Chaffee in Windsor, Ct., in anticipation of a competition suggested by the Rev. Peter Kreitler (VTS ’69), alum of both institutions.

“What I want," Kreitler explained of The Kreitler Cup, “is for my favorite Seminary to compete against my favorite High School in a green competition. How about it?”

During the visit, it was established that year one of the Kreitler Cup Competition should include a comprehensive carbon footprint calculator. Through the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the Seminary will use funds available from the Kreitler Fund to obtain a baseline assessment through the organization’s Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) program to establishment a baseline measurement for a year. Then, moving forward the start of the official competition and collaboration between the schools would be compared back to the baseline readings. In addition, each school will prepare a one-year plan that addresses the goals for improved sustainability efforts.

“Committed staff, faculty, and students are working together to help Virginia Theological Seminary reflect more intensely on its use of energy and resources, and take steps to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, to increase our recycling and reuse of renewable resources, and to contribute to a healthier, greener environment,” said Rev. Gortner. “By doing these things, we hope not only to change our seminary practices – we hope to make a difference in the environmental practices of churches and schools served by our graduates.”

This effort is ongoing and is moving forward. VTS has already initiated and is tracking efforts around campus which include:
  • Compost program implementing an organic approach to the landscape;
  • Updating and improving insulation and other energy saving features in faculty homes;
  • Reduction of paper waste in the Seminary’s Welcome Center;
  • Ensure that all new campus housing is LEED certified;
  • Planting of an herb garden by the student Environmental Concerns committee for use in meal preparation and to encourage the use of local ingredients in the community;
  • Sowing wheat in a field on campus for use in the communion host in the chapel at VTS, and in parishes at field education sites.
“The idea is that we will learn from each other, compete against each other, and recognize achievement. We want students, staff, and faculty to all combine in supporting and participating in these efforts,” said Dean Markham. “Our Strategic Plan obligates us to have an environmentally sensitive campus and preserve this remarkable world that God has given us.”

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The Green Seminary Initiative encourages schools of theology to be participants in, and keepers of, God’s creation in all its human, biological, geological, and ecological manifestations. To that end, the Green Seminary Initiative is dedicated to building a nationwide coalition of theological schools that infuse care of the earth into all aspects of theological education.

Founded in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The school prepares men and women, representing more than 40 different dioceses and nine different countries, for service in the Church, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. Visit us online at www.vts.edu.