Hospitality is a spiritual disciple of the highest order in the Christian tradition. The Rule of St. Benedict is particularly apt our community: “Let all guests who arrive be received as Christ, because He will say: "I was a stranger and you took Me in" (Mt 25:35). And let due honor be shown to all, especially to those "of the household of the faith" (Gal 6:10) and to wayfarers.”(RB 53) These ministrations in our home can be hard work. Entertaining requires preparation. Spaces that one enjoys for oneself are shared. It can be difficult. It is even harder when a guest that arrives at an inconvenient time or that is particularly challenging. One of the realities of serving as Dean and President, is that our home is very much a place of hospitality for students, faculty, and outside guests. I find myself experiencing both the challenges and joys of this hospitality.
As a seminary community, we are committed to the act of hospitality. We have guest houses, great venue spaces, and lots of green space. These spaces should be used for mission and ministry. So Scott Lounge might not be available; one might have to dress for breakfast; we have all the inconveniences of hospitality. We take these steps because it is what we are called to do through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, I am keenly aware that this seminary is home to our students and faculty and that you share burdens that can feel heavy and untimely.
Having the right balance between openness and boundaries in a community of faith. As we exercise this work of welcome, I invite all of us to note our feelings. How might do we feel about the unexpected intrusion? What is the spiritual, interior work required? I also welcome your suggestions on how we can balance this essential ministry of welcome and honoring this place as your home. “Meanwhile, Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it’ (Hebrews 13:2).
The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. Dean and President