X
This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our use of these cookies.

2020

  • June

    Friday, June 5, 2020

    Each June since 2016, VTS has hosted preachers on campus as part of Deep Calls to Deep. This program, generously funded in part by the Lilly Foundation, chooses lay and ordained “Preaching Fellows” from many denominations to work in peer groups. Fellows work together for an entire year; at the beginning and the end of that year, they spend a week on campus together. The week usually focuses on the program’s four areas of emphasis: spirituality, imagination, embodiment, and community.

    This year, of course, is different. The typical Deep Calls to Deep program is on hold for a year. Instead, we are offering a week of resources on “Preaching in a Time of Crisis.” The week will include three online interactive lectures which are open to the public:

    Monday, June 8, 7:00 p.m.
    The Very Rev. Cynthia Kittredge, Dean and President, Seminary of the Southwest
    “For Those Who Preach and Those Who Hear: Crisis and Imagination”

    Tuesday, June 9, 7:00 p.m.
    Dr. Christopher Davis, Associate Professor of Preaching and Pastoral Ministry and Associate Dean of Doctoral Studies, Memphis Theological Seminary
    “In My Mind's Eye: Preaching with Sanctified Imagination”

    Wednesday, June 10
    The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Brooke-Davidson, Assisting Bishop, the Diocese of Virginia
    “From Consolation to Hope: Announcing the Kingdom When the World Is Crumbling”

    You can register for these lectures here. The tag line for Deep Calls to Deep is “Nurture Preaching Passion.” Right now, we all need nurture more than ever—and the world needs our passion. We hope you will join us.

    The Rev. Anne Turner
    Program Coordinator, Deep Calls to Deep
    Read More
  • Thursday, June 4, 2020

    The Office of the Dean and President is small and unique. It has included the Dean’s Office, the Recruitment Office, and the Communications Office—a diverse group of people that come together harmoniously to support each other’s work. Under the direction of Dean Markham, our department has always been vibrant, joyful, and full of singing (from Dean Markham).

    Due to some restructuring and reorganization of all departments this upcoming fiscal year, it saddens us that we must part ways with the Recruitment team as they rejoin the Academic Administration and Student Life (AASL). It was a pleasure having Derek Greten-Harrison and Wendy Bermudez in our department—this superb duo brings so much to our institution! We will miss them terribly, but I am sure that our offices will cross paths again especially during the recruitment season.

    Although we are losing a department, we are gaining two wonderful and skilled individuals. Taryn Habberly and Vanessa McCormick will be joining us in the upcoming academic year. We are honored to be in their presence as they will add qualifications in our office that will enhance our current system.

    I have worked with both Taryn and Vanessa since my Meriwether-Godsey days. Taryn is always very helpful and willing to accommodate changes, especially at the last minute. She is prompt and highly professional. Vanessa is energetic and charismatic. She has a passion for customer service that is beyond moving. Her magnetic aura is always very welcoming. I am excited to have both of them joining our team; I am so eager to learn from them. Welcome, Taryn and Vanessa.

    Cassandra Gravina
    Executive Assistant to the Dean and President
    Read More
  • Wednesday, June 3, 2020

    It is hard to believe that most of us have been working remotely since March, as the COVID-19 pandemic truly changed the course of our daily lives. I am sure that many of us are starting to envision a time when we can all stop working from the couch, kitchen table, or the bedroom. As we anticipate returning to a sense of normalcy, we start to realize that we must adopt new measures to comply with safety and important hygiene practices at work.

    During the transition from office to home, the Dean’s Office encountered a few challenges along the way. The first challenge was communication. The dean and I had to find new ways to stay connected and make sure we acted quickly on the important issues that took place in our institution. We had to build the right infrastructure for a virtual workplace that worked well for us. The second challenge was managing the work-life balance. We are all used to keeping work and home life separate; we work in the office during normal operation hours and live privately after hours. For me, the challenge was school, work, and life. It was incredibly difficult to continue the semester online while working from home and maintaining a healthy life. The sudden change completely removed existing boundaries and made it difficult to balance work-life.

    Our office is constantly researching new ways to work successfully. We encourage every department to carefully observe the challenges that may have occurred during the transition from traditional office work to remote work. These fundamental changes will enhance how a department will continue to function effectively.

    Cassandra Gravina
    Executive Assistant to the Dean and President
    Read More
  • Tuesday, June 2,2020

    The plan was that my executive assistant would write the Commentary today; but she suggested that I should write this one. Extraordinary events make our normal VTS events seem meaningless. We are still mourning the loss of George Floyd. His loss is still a continuing agony in the lives of his family. As we seek to understand what is happening, it is important to remember that a family is still grappling with this great loss. A child is gone; a sibling has gone; a friend is no longer there. Hearts are broken. This is hard.

    I want to celebrate the moments of hope. In several cities last night, the police took a knee to honor the lost life. Thousands of institutions and churches have issued statements, calling for repentance and for a world with a future which will be different. And yes, the demonstrations remind us all that people care about justice.

    There is one moment I must condemn: the decision of the President to order the gassing of the crowd in Lafayette Square, and then to take the Bible to the Episcopal Church in that square. Five VTS students were present. The Episcopal Church must be clear that this act is not our witness. A parish church cannot be a prop. We stand with the aching mother and sibling whose tears remind us that their son and brother has gone and that is wrong. Yes, their son and brother could be any Black man.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • 2020 Anglican Communion Prize winner

    Robert Heaney
    At Virginia Theological Seminary’s 197th Commencement on Thursday, May 14, the Anglican Communion Prize was awarded to a graduating student who has shown an outstanding commitment to discerning the mission of God through World Anglicanism. The 2020 recipient is the Rev. Guimond Pierre-Louis.

    One of the criteria for the prize is someone who has “demonstrated dedication to international Christian mission and theological understanding across cultural and theological differences.” Rev. Pierre Louis demonstrates an uncommon depth of theological, philosophical, and missiological insight. He understands inter-cultural relationship and witness to center on the practice of hospitality. In discerning the mission of God, the church is called to understand what it means to be both guest and host in God’s world. A skilled linguist, with proven ministry and research abilities, Guimond has a particular interest in how the history and theology of Haiti might bring blessing to the nation and to the Communion. It is God, he writes, “who creates diversity: diversity of culture, history...language.” Thus, at the heart of discerning God’s mission are hearts open to one another. God, he argues, continues to call the church to deeper listening, deeper understanding, and wider welcome. For in doing so the church and Communion welcome “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.”

    Guimond will be returning to Haiti this month and we know he will be a blessing to all he serves in his ministry. Congratulations, Guimond!
    Read More
  • A Statement from the Dean and President

    “I cannot breathe, sir.” This was George Floyd’s plea. This is too poignant for words. If one black man in our country cannot breathe, then none of us can breathe. 
     
    As we live through this painful moment, it seems that our country is at a tipping point. Yet again, racism has been ruthlessly exposed. A Black life was taken in just nine minutes. This cannot be.
     
    The history of brutal and violent actions against persons of color is the history of us all. We all must do the work of self-examination. We must examine our tendency for racial bias and prejudice. Change must come. We cannot go on as we are.
     
    Some are desperate for the protests and riots to stop. The preferred way forward for many is for no demonstrations and for the racial status quo to continue. This cannot be the outcome. We need leadership in this country that creates a social contract between the protesters and the white majority which will deliver a transformation of structural racism in our economic structures; in policing; in the criminal justice system; in education; in health treatment; in housing; and in voting.
     
    If our country is to be transformed, all institutions need to play their part. We must transform the Episcopal Church and Virginia Theological Seminary, so we can truly recognize our racism and our support for unjust structures.
     
    May George Floyd rest in peace and rise in glory. We pray for his soul and his family. We pray for change. We pray for our country. We pray for our own households. I pray that we will do the hard work of self-examination and transformation.
     
    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. 
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Monday, June 1, 2020

    During the summer months, many of you may notice that the Dean’s Commentary is authored by individuals from different departments within our institution. Dean Markham works diligently to produce a daily commentary about campus life during the academic year, but during the summertime, he gives this opportunity to other departments here at VTS, inviting them to share current events, news, and announcements, and information about upcoming projects.

    This summer’s schedule is rich and bursting with news that will excite you. Last week, the Rev. Melody Knowles shared highlights from the Board of Trustees meeting. Next week, we will hear updates from the Lifelong Learning team. And the following week, we get the inside scoop from the Doctoral Ministries program from Ms. Mara Sherman and the Rev. Ross Kane. We will also feature insights from our initiative departments, such as TryTank. It is incredibly important that we hear from these departments. It helps us to be aware of what each department is working on, and enhances our apprecation and understanding of each department -- which enables us to better support one another.

    This week, our department -- the Dean's Office -- will discuss a few topics that strongly resonate with us during the pandemic. Tomorrow, we’ll cover the challenges of admininstration during a pandemic. Wednesday we will discuss changes in the Dean’s Office. Thursday we'll emphasize how to be an active employee while working from home. And Friday we'll discuss other issues.

    Cassandra Gravina
    Executive Assistant to the Dean and President
    Read More
  • May

    Friday, May 29, 2020

    As the academic year wraps up, it’s my delight to announce two more achievements of the VTS faculty. Each May we honor one of our members with the Suzanne Thomas Faculty Research Award. This award honors significant publications and financially supports additional work over the coming year. This year’s winner is the Rev. Judy Fentress-Williams, Ph.D.

    Dr. Fentress-Williams is one of the most senior members of the faculty, coming up on her 18th anniversary of teaching at VTS. Our students love her as a thoughtful and engaged teacher, and her faculty colleagues value her as one who knows excellence when she sees it. At Alfred St. Baptist church, Judy leads with inspiring sermons and pastoral presence. And while filling in during Pastor John Wesley’s recent sabbatical, she figured out what it meant for her to shape what leadership looks like in that context. On top of all of this, this year was marked by some significant publications. In addition to her prior volume on Ruth and her role as chief Hebrew Bible editor of the CEB ’s Women’s Study Bible, she is also at work on a commentary on Genesis for the Interpretation Commentary series as well as essays in The Oxford Handbook of the Bible in Africa and the African Diaspora. And this summer, a major work will be published: Holy Imagination: A Literary and Theological Introduction to the Whole Bible. VTS is proud to honor a teacher, scholar, and pastor who inspires us to engage the biblical text as a rich and ongoing dialogue with God and communities of faith.

    The Board of Trustees also confirmed the faculty’s unanimous recommendation that the Rev. Dr. Robert Heaney be promoted to Professor of Theology and Mission. Robert has been teaching at VTS since 2013, and during that time has authored several serious and significant books, including From Historical to Critical Post-Colonial Theology, The Promise of Anglicanism (with William L. Sachs) and Postcolonial Theology: Finding God and Each other Amidst the Hate. He also edited Faithful Neighbors: Christian-Muslim Vision and Practice (with Zeyneb Sayilgan and Claire Haymes), God’s Church for God’s World, and contributed essays to many other books. He is a leader in the Anglican Communion, and is currently a member of the Lambeth Conference Design Group. He has also been the Director of VTS’s Center for Anglican Communion Studies and worked to define and clarify the center’s purpose as “promoting and practicing better community for the Communion.” He is an engaging and academically rigorous teacher and a colleague who can be trusted upon to speak with honesty and wisdom. Robert now takes his place as a senior member of the VTS faculty, and we congratulate him and look forward to his future accomplishments.

    The Rev. Melody Knowles
    Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament


    Read More
  • Thursday, May 28, 2020

    The final two program reviews that the Board of Trustees approved in May 2020 were for the Doctor of Ministry degree and the Doctor of Educational Ministry degree.

    The basic building blocks of the doctoral programs remain the same. We will continue to teach and learn in the context of seminars, with case studies retained as a key feature. The students will also engage in contextual studies throughout the year so that educational engagement is kept fresh and honest by bringing it into conversation with current ministry sites.

    The major changes involve a slight reduction in required electives: the total credits for the D.Min. program moves from 34 to 30, and the total credits for the D.Ed.Min. moves from 50 to 44. These totals still remain considerably higher than the standards of the Association of Theological Schools which specify at least 30 credits for the D.Min. and 36 for the D.Ed.Min. The goal of this reduction was to bolster the student’s thesis projects. When students engage in new and creative research at the end of their program, we wanted to make sure that they have enough time and space to devote themselves to the endeavor without worrying about finishing up outstanding coursework. Aided by the writing retreat in January and sturdy advising, the aim is to provide students with the support that they need to produce first-rate work.

    I admit that I deeply enjoyed watching Ross Kane run this thorough-going review, assisted so very well by Mara Sherman. After barely a year in their positions, they began to dig into the project and set the stage with analysis and vision-making. They were awarded a grant for an outside consultant to lend expertise, gathered feedback from current and past students, and led the Doctoral Committee in drafting thoughtful documents to discuss with the faculty. And now, after a two-year process, VTS has them to thank for steering this project to happy completion. Congratulations on excellent work Mara and Ross.

    The Rev. Melody Knowles
    Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament


    Read More
  • Wednesday, May 27, 2020

    When the Board voted two weeks ago to accept certain revisions to the Masters of Arts degree offered by VTS, they affirmed the sense of the faculty and students that the program should continue to build on our traditional strengths. What VTS does best is graduating leaders for God’s church who have been well-formed in a residential educational community with rich opportunities for study and worship (i.e., “chapel, class, lunch”). In addition, the revised program will continue to offer enough flexibility to allow students to shape their studies into various concentrations so that it will continue to support their own interests and vocational goals.

    In the context of this continuity, the following changes to the MA program are of note:

    -The tracks now reflect current faculty strengths in Biblical Studies, Church and Witness, and Christian Formation.
    -The MA program enhances subject-area focus through increased requirements in the student’s chosen field of study.
    -The program also strengthens the Summative Capstone Projects by requiring students to take courses in their subject area before writing a proposal.
    -In addition to depth, the program continues to promote interdisciplinary engagement via a required Cross-Cultural Engagement Program or a Contextual Ministry Placement.
    -The Student Learning Outcomes have been modified, and now includes one in Cultural Contexts with goals for awareness of cultural contexts and intercultural literacy.
    The faculty is also interested in exploring a new MA track in the future, one focused on the Arts of Ministry. 
     
    Dr. Hannah Matis spearheaded this program review, and we are all grateful for her thoughtful and creative work. Thank you for all that you have done to reshape a strong program into something stronger!


    The Rev. Melody Knowles
    Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament
    Read More
  • Tuesday, May 26, 2020

    At the May Board of Trustees meeting, the Board voted in revisions to four academic programs offered by VTS: the Diploma in Anglican Studies, the Masters of Arts, the Doctor of Ministry, and the Doctor of Educational Ministry. Over the next few days, I’ll summarize these changes in the Dean’s Commentary.

    Under the leadership of Dr. James Farwell, the faculty helped re-shape a program of studies that covered “the basics”: classes in Episcopal Church history, liturgy, polity, and Anglican thought. Where we are unique among our peer schools is the breadth of the experience that we can offer in addition to these core requirements.

    Some of this relates to the classroom experience: courses in ecumenic means that graduates of the program are able to better work with local clergy in their communities. And Cross-Cultural Engagement Programs means that students can travel and experience life in the international Anglican communion.

    And much of this breadth occurs outside the classroom in the form of rich co-curricular offerings. Anglican Studies students are immersed in a full program that includes a sizable cohort, several opportunities for worship each day, a weekly formation group led by a faculty member, training in worship planning and leading, and a large residential community from all over the Episcopal Church. The programming of the Center for Anglican Communion Studies means that students also engage leaders who come to campus from throughout the communion.

    I’m proud of our revised Diploma in Anglican Studies. James Farwell has done an excellent job of listening to Bishops and former students to discern what VTS should offer. The strength and breadth of our faculty and our rich co-curricular offerings mean that we can.

    The Rev. Melody Knowles
    Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament
    Read More
  • Friday, May 22, 2020

    At the faculty meeting this week, it was a pleasure to announce a recent motion of the Board of Trustees to award the Arthur Carl Lichtenberger Chair in Continuing Education and Theological Research to Dr. Mitzi Budde. The chair was created in 1966 to honor the Most Rev. Arthur Carl Lichtenberger, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, and was last held by the Rev. Dr. Barney Hawkins from 2013-2017. It was a special delight to have Barney join in the faculty’s celebratory toast to Mitzi on Tuesday, and host two “ACL’s” in a Zoom happy hour.

    Prof. Budde came to VTS in 1991 and was promoted to Head Librarian and Associate Professor in 1997, and Head Librarian and Professor in 2003. In this role, she has built a theological collection for the use of this generation and the next, a testimony to the sure hand that has guided its growth and academic habits. The collection is rich in the core areas of theological research and is international in scope. Under Dr. Budde’s leadership, the Seminary has acquired several important manuscript collections, including the African-American Episcopal Historical Collection, the musical library of several prominent musicians and composers including J. Reilly Lewis, and the print collection of Rowan Allan Crite. The shelves holding new book arrivals show Dr. Budde’s teaching scholarship in full colors: historical treatments, broad ecumenical engagements, Biblical studies, cultural and social developments, pastoral care. In Dr. Budde, the Seminary has a librarian whose vision for the library holdings is generous and worldwide, manifesting and supporting Christian scholarship of the highest order.

    Prof. Budde’s major publications include Hear My Voice: A Prison Prayer Book (editor and contributing writer, 2019), Daring to Share: Multi-Denominational Congregations in the U.S. and Canada (co-authored with Sandra Beardsall and William McDonald, 2018), United against Racism: Churches for Change (contributing writer, 2018), and Thinking Theologically about Mass Incarceration: Biblical Foundations and Justice Imperatives (co-edited with Antonios Kireopoulos and Matthew D. Lundberg, 2017). She has also served on the ATS Redevelopment of the Standards Task Force, and given presentations on Lutheranism and ecumenism and library science across the US, Asia, and Europe.

    With this chair, VTS honors Dr. Budde’s lifelong leadership of the continuing education of our students and the larger public through the accumulation, conservation, and ongoing access to the best resources for theological research.

    The Rev. Melody Knowles
    Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament
    Read More
  • Thursday, May 21, 2020

    Yesterday at the faculty meeting we marked three big changes for our colleagues. The first is the move of Dr. Zeyneb Sayilgan to become the Muslim Scholar at the Institute for Islamic, Jewish and Christian Studies. Dr. Sayilgan has taught at VTS since 2014, currently serving as the Henry Luce Visiting Professor of Islamic Theology and Religious Pluralism. The last several years have witnessed a suspicion of Islam, and growing threats to the Muslim community. As she worked on her book on a theology of migration from an Islamic perspective, her story of faith and her theological analysis of our contemporary world grew all with whom she shared her work. In her faithful living and committed teaching, she taught us all about the dangers and evil of prejudice, and we are grateful for impact that she and her family have had on our lives.

    The second is the move of the Rev. Dr. Shawn Strout to assume a new title and responsibilities as Associate for Academic Planning and Assessment and Visiting Professor of Worship. As an alum, Shawn has long been a presence at VTS. Most recently he was serving as Assistant to the Associate Dean of Chapel for Worship Planning and Program Implementation and the Director of Evaluation for the TryTank. He was deeply appreciated for the administrative prowess and pastoral skill that he brought to those roles, and we look forward to having him lead new projects at VTS.

    The third is the move of the Rev. Dr. Altagracia Perez-Bullard to take on additional responsibilities as the Director of Contextual Ministry. Continuing as Assistant Professor of Practical Theology, Dr. Perez-Bullard will expand her teaching role from the classroom to embrace the various ministry placement sites in which our students serve and learn. Contextual Ministry is a central part of our M.Div. program, and a rich place of engagement with the many supervisors who are key players in the experience of learning at teaching at VTS.

    Thank you, colleagues, for taking on these new challenges! You step into your new roles with our deep thanks and ongoing prayers

    The Rev. Melody Knowles
    Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament


    Read More
  • Wednesday, May 20, 2020

    Who is God calling VTS to be in Fall 2020? What do our students need in Fall 2020?

    VTS values residential theological education. In the context of COVID-19, we are planning the academic year of 2020-21 to promote community and educational engagement while remaining open to teaching and learning online. The goal is to promote and protect the health of all in the face of possible second wave outbreaks, self-isolation due to contact tracing, localized shut-downs etc., etc., etc.

    As the faculty explore the various options for class next year, we are committed to providing:
    • a rich community life of chapel and lunch in a context of physical distancing and smaller group gatherings,
    • classes that explore new and flexible ways to promote teaching and learning in a mix of online and face-to-face contexts, and
    • opportunities to learn together about what COVID-19 is teaching us.

    This spring, VTS faculty are modifying the course of studies in order to plan courses with the educational needs of our students in fall 2020 at the top of their minds. They are writing proposals specifying their needs for classroom spaces, tech support, and training, in order that things can go as smoothly as possible and that the institutional infrastructure is ready to support a variety of scenarios.

    I’m grateful for the many ways that the faculty rose to the sudden challenges this spring and proud of their work for the coming academic year.

    The Rev. Melody Knowles
    Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament
    Read More
  • Tuesday, May 19, 2020

    The faculty meets today in an extended Zoom call to review the past academic year and plan for the next. Many of us are, frankly, exhausted. Working through all of the final grading is a challenge in the best of times, and this spring brought its own extraordinary challenges. Added to this is the need to be extra early in sorting out courses and readings for the coming fall so that we can properly plan for space allocation, technology needs, and reserve readings over the summer.

    But even in the midst of the challenges, I have noticed that these final meetings can be rich times for reflection and celebration. As we review the various publications and promotions of our colleagues, as well as the various new policies and procedures that we worked on and voted through, we get a new perspective on the full academic year.

    The questions that have shaped our final meeting for the past few years are as follows:
    • Where did you see a faculty colleague shine this year? Who took a risk?
    • Thinking about the courses and extra-curricular possibilities that we offered, as well as the students that we just graduated, where did you see an example of what we got right in 2019-20? Where do we need to do additional work?

    The answers have sometimes been surprising, and always uplifting. I am always especially moved when I hear of some quiet good deed or innovation that could easily have been missed brought to light.

    You will hear more about these good deeds, innovations, and accomplishments in the Dean’s Commentary over the next two weeks. Until then, please keep the faculty of VTS in your prayers as we meet today.

    The Rev. Melody Knowles
    Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament
    Read More
  • Monday, May 18, 2020

    The stakes were high, and there was no map for the way forward. When it became evident that Commencement 2020 was not going to happen in person, the only thing certain was that “plan B” had to be excellent.

    As the Dean mentioned in another commentary a few weeks back, most events get only one write-up. But just like the superb online event to celebrate the Masters-level Summative Capstone Project organized by Dr. Sharon Heaney, the Commencement 2020 video deserves an additional mention.

    As Shawn Strout and Curtis Prather sat down a few weeks ago to sketch out an initial design, a few goals emerged. Student input was crucial, so a committee was formed. Although celebration was clearly the dominant emotional note, lament should also be present in a liturgy that was fitting for the day. And even though we couldn’t gather together, the “presence” of the students as well as the faculty should be felt throughout. And the campus should also feature prominently to bring together all those now scattered across the country.

    After Shawn developed a basic “story board” and script, Curtis and his team engaged all of their artistic talent. As Dr. Grieb noted, the classically styled titles introducing each section signaled a traditional air, as did the decision to place the Dean and others in the Chapel Garden. The slow motion camera capturing the beauty of the campus and the new chapel was elegant and graceful. The musical interludes were splendid, especially those that featured the graduating class itself.

    Most of all, the video had heart. The address of Bp. Baskerville-Burrows was visionary. The use of photos to represent the graduates was highly effective. The words from the faculty and staff and Board Chair were moving. And the montage of photos representing key moments was especially thoughtful. (Click here to view the video on YouTube.)

    So thank you Curtis and Shawn and Elizabeth and Duane and Adam for your dedication to excellence. All of VTS is grateful.

    The Rev. Melody Knowles
    Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament
    Read More
  • Friday, May 15, 2020

    The praise for our virtual Commencement has been overwhelming. Friends from around the world have reached out. Family of the graduates took the opportunity to use the chat feature inside Facebook. The personal messages from Faculty were touching; the personal messages within the class reduced me to tears. It was moving.

    Well done to the team that put this together! I hesitate to name just one person: but naturally our director of communications was key. Mr. Curtis Prather led the team to deliver this moment to the campus. So thank you, Curtis. I am grateful for the hard work of the entire team.

    It is my practice to let others write the commentary over the summer. We all look at the world from a particular vantage point. I enjoy reading the commentary over the summer; I learn so many things about the people and their work in this place. As we navigate a pandemic, these commentaries are especially important. We will see the depth of our institutional response. I look forward to reading them.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. 
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Bishop Baskerville-Burrows Gives Historic 197th Commencement Address

    Read More
  • Thursday, March 14, 2020

    Today is Commencement. Our students are "commencing into exercising the authority permitted by virtue of their labors to get their degree." This definition is probably the origin of the term "commencement" being used to refer to graduation ceremonies. It is not "commencing into the rest of their lives;" instead, it is the invitation to enter into the authority made possible by their education - the degree that they have earned.

    In today's Washington Post our graduates will find their names listed. It is a special moment. Too often, the newspaper is full of bad news; today, the Washington Post has some fabulous news. A new group of women and men are ready to head out and make a difference for the sake of the Gospel. 

    Of course, we all wish we were celebrating "face to face." It is not to be. Life has been disrupted by a pandemic. But even in a pandemic, the work has been done; students are graduating. After we watch the Commencement service on our website at 10:00 a.m., I am pleased to announce that the Seminary will be closed. Please do not work this afternoon, staff and Faculty. Graduates, you deserve to celebrate; employees you deserve a pause as we marvel afresh at the privilege of shaping these lives for ministry.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • VTS Appoints New Faculty Member

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

    ALEXANDRIA, VA - Following today’s meeting of the Board of Trustees, Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) announced the faculty appointment of Marty Wheeler Burnett, D.Min., M.Mus., as Associate Professor
     of Church Music.
     
    “We were excited by the field of candidates we had to engage with, and we are delighted with the appointment of Dr. Burnett,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president. "She will truly bring depth and commitment to this work.”
     
    Since 2007, Burnett has led and coordinated the music ministry at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Omaha, Nebraska. As Canon Precentor, she conducted the Cathedral Choir, Schola Cantorum, Requiem Choir, and Summer Choir, and served as director of the children’s and youth choir program, Cantate Choral Academy. In addition, she oversaw the Handbell Ensemble and coordinated concerts and special music events.  An award-winning educator, Burnett previously served as Director of Fine Arts and Associate Professor of Music at College of Saint Mary in Omaha. She currently serves as president of the Association of Anglican Musicians, an organization of musicians and clergy serving the Episcopal Church.

     
    In 2010, she received her doctoral degree, with a liturgical music focus, from Sewanee: The University of the South. In 1988, she received her Master of Music degree (Organ Performance) from Rice University.
     
    Burnett will move onto the VTS campus in the summer of 2020. 
     
    ####

    ABOUT VTS
    Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those being ordained who received residential theological education. Visit Virginia Seminary online at www.vts.edu
    Read More
  • Wednesday, May 13, 2020

    It takes a lot of training, talent, and dedication to plan and teach a course effectively. Each semester, the faculty of Virginia Theological Seminary create syllabi that draw from the insightful work of scholars and ministry leaders across and outside of the Anglican tradition, while engaging students through papers and projects which help them become better scholars and leaders in their own contexts.

    Needless to say, having to redesign a course in the middle of the semester with almost no notice is not an easy task. I’m happy to report that each member of the faculty has bravely undertaken this unprecedented challenge. Many courses have moved to Zoom, where faculty have navigated mute buttons and breakout rooms. Other faculty have chosen an asynchronous format, using Brightspace to host video lectures, discussion boards, and links to online resources through the Bishop Payne Library. Regardless of their choices around structure and online format, each member of our faculty has also taken on the work of pastoral care for their students. From prioritizing check-ins during Zoom classes, to being particularly attentive to students’ concerns through email, this pastoral work is so incredibly important in helping our students finish the semester.

    Your dedication comes in the midst of tremendous personal sacrifice, whether that means caring for children who are home from school or postponing research and writing projects. Thank you: for your dedication, flexibility, and care for our students during this time of unexpected change. I am proud and grateful for your ministry among and to us.

    The Rev. Melody Knowles
    Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament
    Read More
  • Tuesday, May 12, 2020

    Today and tomorrow we have VTS Board meetings scheduled. Normally I invite the community to welcome and enjoy the presence of our Trustees. On this occasion, however, it is not necessary. As with every other meeting right now, we will be using Zoom. We will do the work of governance from afar.

    The work remains important and complicated. Along with the Seminary's response to COVID-19, the Board will be considering the budget, various program changes, and plans for reopening. Our Board members are creating the space to participate in committee meetings and make important decisions about the future.

    I remain deeply grateful for our Board members. They give generously of their time. They bring wisdom, thoughtfulness, and kindness to the task. There is a depth of experience in the Board that is precious. They often provide a perspective that is different and invaluable. For their support of this place, I am deeply grateful.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Monday, May 11, 2020

    Discernment takes many forms. Over the last few weeks, Vice President Knowles and I have had many conversations with Dr. Hooke and Bishop Mathes about the form their service at the Seminary will take in the future. I am delighted to announce that Dr. Hooke will become Associate Dean of Students, while Bishop Mathes will become Associate Dean of Chapel.

    Dr. Hooke has loved her work as Associate Dean of Chapel. During her appointment she facilitated the community's move into the new chapel. She reorganized the worship planning process and the worship schedule, creating a rhythm of worship that allows for a range of liturgies, and enhanced our processes for training, rehearsing, and reflecting on worship services. After five years in this post, she is ready for a new challenge, and looks forward to continuing to support our community life as Associate Dean of Students. Bishop Mathes has loved his three years as Associate Dean of Students. During his tenure, he has reorganized August Term, served as Director of Contextual Ministry, and handled the complexity of both construction and COVID-19. As Associate Dean of Chapel, Bishop Mathes will be able to continue to work closely with seminarians in a crucial part of their formation as he brings decades of experience in ordained ministry to this central part of our community life.

    We are delighted we will have both their gifts in our community for many years to come.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. 
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • VTS Announces Two New Faculty Appointments

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

    Media Contact: Curtis Prather 

    Tel: (703) 461-1782 
    Email: cprather@vts.edu 

    Alexandria, VA - Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) announced this week the appointment of the Rev. Ruthanna Hooke, Ph.D. to the position of Associate Dean of Students and the appointment of The Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes to the position of Associate Dean of Chapel.

    “I'm thrilled that my colleagues are taking this step,” said the Rev. Melody Knowles, Ph.D., vice president of academic affairs. “They are both committed and creative leaders who have made VTS stronger in the core areas of worship and community life. In the years ahead they will bring their significant gifts to their new roles, and I'm excited about the future."

    Hooke joined the VTS faculty in 2003. Her areas of interest and research include Comparative Religion, Divine-human relationship in preaching, embodied preaching, Performing Arts, Linklater Vocal Training, Kierkegaard, Barth, Levinas, Irigaray, and Derrida. During her appointment as Dean of Chapel, she facilitated the community's move into the new Immanuel Chapel; reorganized the worship planning process and the worship schedule, creating a rhythm of worship that allows for a range of liturgies; and enhanced our processes for training, rehearsing, and reflecting on worship services.  After five years in this post, she is ready for a new challenge, and looks forward to continuing to support our community life as Associate Dean of Students.

    Hooke said, "I have thoroughly enjoyed my work as Associate Dean of Chapel, and I am now looking forward to supporting students' experience and the life of the community in a new way as Associate Dean of Students."

    Mathes joined the VTS faculty in 2017. His areas of expertise are congregational development and clergy mentoring. He teaches courses on Theory and Practice of Ministry. During his tenure, he has reorganized August term, served as director of contextual ministry, and handled the complexity of both construction and COVID-19. As Associate Dean of Chapel, Bishop Mathes will be able to continue to work closely with seminarians in a crucial part of their formation as he brings decades of experience in ordained ministry to this central part of our community life. Before coming to VTS, he was the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

    "I love learning and growing with our students,” said Mathes. “And in this season, our community will be called to value our traditions of worship as we adapt to a changed environment. This will call us to be resilient, creative, patient, and open to the Holy Spirit. I grateful for the opportunity to serve.”

    We are delighted we will have both their gifts in our community for many years to come.

    ####

    ABOUT VTS
    Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those being ordained who received residential theological education. Visit Virginia Seminary online at www.vts.edu
    Read More
  • Friday, May 8, 2020

    I am constantly in awe of the wonderful and talented staff of Virginia Theological Seminary, especially during the pandemic crisis. Each department continues to be imaginative in their work to fully support the Seminary in many ways. The Seminary recognizes your hard work, innovation, and commitment to improving life in our community.

    Last week, our Technical Services Librarian, Bradley Hess, reported that he has created a library guide for Dr. Melody Knowles’ online course—Film and the Bible. The extensive resource is completed with biblical film, adaptation theory, and film theory that creates a platform for students to explore. Dr. Knowles was beyond impressed with the creativity of Bradley. She says, “Your work has incredibly strengthened my course and my own research. This libguide will be a great resource to me and the students (either in an online or face-to-face context) and I am both impressed and grateful”. Bradley is an incredible member of the Bishop Payne Library and we are thankful for his ministry. If you are interested in this resource, please click here or email Bradley at bhess@vts.edu with any questions.

    As we continue to face unprecedented times, all of us are weaving through the “new normal.” The age of virtual meetings is taking a toll on me. I crave your presence. I long for community. I miss our conversation. You are all in my daily prayers as I pray for the safety of you and your loved ones.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Thursday, May 7, 2020

    A key feature of any M.Div. program is the Contextual Ministry placement. The months spent immersed in a ministry site are invaluable in forming future priests. So what happens when a pandemic hits and church buildings are closed?

    I’m grateful to say that our student’s formation at contextual ministry sites have continued amidst these new challenges in the spring of 2020. As our seminarians continued to undertake ministry in this unprecedented situation, we are so very thankful for the continued leadership of Contextual Ministry supervisors. In addition to grappling with adapting their own ministry to social distancing, CXM supervisors continue to provide seminarians with mentorship and opportunities for formation. From integrating seminarians into live-streamed daily offices to coaching them through what it means to do pastoral care from a distance, supervisors have been vital in providing support to our seminarians in this time. We are so grateful for these clergy and lay leaders.

    We’re thankful, too, for the creative leadership of Ms. Carol Jubinski and Bishop Jim Mathes, as they worked with students and supervisors to ensure that the placements were rich sites for learning.

    Thank you for your leadership, for your willingness to share your gifts and growth, and for all you do to support congregations and seminarians.

    The Rev. Melody Knowles
    Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament
    Read More
  • The Rev. Michael Angell recipient of 2020 John Hines Preaching Award

    Read More
  • Wednesday, May 6, 2020

    I do not normally write more than one commentary on the same event. We either advertise or we reflect. We do not usually do both. However, I do want to lift up today the remarkable achievement of the Masters' Thesis presentations that took place yesterday. It was extraordinary. It was moving; it was a testimony to student achievement; and it was well organized.

    As Vice President Knowles noted yesterday, a thesis is a journey. It take a determined student, a thoughtful faculty advisor, the assistance of the library staff, the help of the Academic Center, and an additional reader. And the result, judging by the presentations, was excellent. However, I would like to lift up today the work of Dr. Sharon Heaney. She was the coordinator of the event; she had music videos set up at key moments; she ensured that the entire event finished on time; and she really made sure that every student was honored.

    I definitely found the Zoom experience was as good as the "face to face" experience. This I think was partly the achievement of Dr. Heaney. She knows how to run a good Zoom conference. I was delighted to participate; I was proud of our students, staff, and faculty; and crucially, I was deeply grateful to Dr. Heaney. She made sure that this event finished on a high. Thank you, Sharon.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Tuesday, May 5, 2020

    From 12:45 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. this afternoon, we look forward with joy to celebrating the work of our Masters students who have written a Thesis or Summative Capstone Project this academic year. After many months in conversation with advisors, readers, librarians and writing coaches, the students will now have an opportunity to share their work with the VTS Community online. Keep an eye out for an email invitation soon!

    Every Thesis and Summative Capstone Project is a process of dedication, resilience and growth.
    From the creation of a proposal sent for approval to the Masters Committee, to the meticulous work of research, writing and revision, these pieces represent a serious undertaking in a normal academic year. To focus, to persevere and to produce a Thesis or Summative Capstone Project amidst a global COVID 19 pandemic is indeed admirable. I am conscious of the determined effort made by our students and by those who have guided them across the finish line.

    A range of fascinating and exciting subjects have been addressed this year:

    An exploration of remorse as an occasion of grace; an examination of Discretio spirituum in the paratexts of early modern English women translators; the challenge that God is not against the war victims in Sri Lanka; research on The Episcopal Church in Native American Boarding Schools via theories of assimilation; an engagement with John Polkinghorne; a ritualization of the engracement of the world and a reflection on the sacramentality of scripture as expressed in Augustine and speech-act theory; living the Gospel in Haiti with Konbit; an understanding of human disability for family life in Tanzania; a curriculum of theology and mission for women; faith formation for children with disabilities; understanding of congregational health; inner work with St. Paul on recovering from binge eating.

    I warmly invite you to join me in recognizing their achievement today.

    The Rev. Melody Knowles
    Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament
    Read More
  • Monday, May 4, 2020

    How do you stay in touch during a pandemic? Part of the answer is social media. The increase in engagement with our social media - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube - has been significant. Whether it is promoting upcoming online events, sharing the work of our students, faculty, and staff, or connecting alumni and friends, the Communications team has been hard at work. 

    We are, in the end, a relatively small graduate school; yet our followers and subscribers for our key accounts are as follows: 
    Facebook - 5,775
    Twitter - 4,506
    Instagram - 2,291
    YouTube - 473
    Of course if you don't currently subscribe or follow us, please do so. We would love to keep in touch with you.

    Today we congratulate the team of three. Christin Lazo, Elizabeth Panox-Leach, and Curtis Prather are working hard to lift up our Seminary life and ensure that our friends around the world are aware of just how much we are doing in these times. Thank you.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. 
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Friday, May 1, 2020

    Our Faculty have been prominent in this moment, bringing their expertise to the challenges and difficult questions we have faced, moving entirely to online learning during this pandemic. However, it is not just our Faculty who have been doing this work. It has been good to hear that some of our VTS staff members have been approached by national organizations, asking them to assist other institutions in finding a way forward.

    Just to give you one illustration, today at 11:30 a.m., Derek Greten-Harrison, our Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, has been asked by Blackbaud to lead an online session entitled "Navigating a Crisis with Blackbaud's Educational Management Solutions," sharing how our Admissions team has successfully used Blackbaud to accommodate remote working. I am delighted that Derek has been asked to make this presentation. 

    What is true of Derek is true of others. Our employees are not just keeping VTS operating well, but are also helping other organizations to do well. Thank you to everyone who is making a difference in these extraordinary times.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Witness of Women and Contemporary Challenges in India

    Atola Longkumer
    The global pandemic: Covid-19 makes our immediate contemporary context. A comprehensive portrayal of India is difficult. In this short essay, I hope to provide, in broad strokes, a general backdrop to invite imagination of a diverse modern nation rooted in an ancient civilization.
     
    Caste divisions, poverty, shopping malls, squalid slums, a robust younger generation, a growing middle class, national newspapers in English, copious publishing industry, IT hubs serving global economy, gender violence, open-defecation, a thriving business of English-medium education, profuse religiosity and a Hindu-nationalist political party in power all combine to make up the dazzling reality of India. The general picture is one of a modern nation with rigid diversities and debilitating inequalities on the cusp of economic transformation for many.

    These conditions impact women’s life tremendously and these challenges call for women’s participation. Women’s active participation and witness to the contemporary challenges can be identified in four interconnected areas: community leadership, inter-religious living, community health, and environment care.

    Unbeknownst to many, women in India have contributed to their communities as religious mystics, social reformers and modern professionals across historical eras. From the pages of Christian mission history, faithful women shine for their service and leadership in their witness to Christ: Ida Scudder, Isabella Thoburn, Pandita Ramabai, Catherine F. Ling, and Amy Carmichael. (www.bu.edu/missiology/missionary-biography)

    A flourishing and stable local community is vital to the nation. As studies affirm, women’s leadership, skilled and gifted women who understand the challenges and are passionate to participate in building a better life for the community, are urgently needed in the country today.
    While India is home to many world religions, today the country is challenged by religious conflicts and contests, often manifested in violence and suppression of freedom of religion (in The Clash Within, Martha Nussbaum discussed the issue in depth). Engaging with neighbors in their lived/shared spaces provides women the opportunity to cross the religious divide and build communities of mutual flourishing.

    The global pandemic of Covid-19 and its challenges have reiterated the dismal health care infrastructure of the country: inadequate and disparate. If community health and well-being are challenging, women are often both vulnerable victims and the primary caregivers for family and community well-being. The history of modern India and its health infrastructure cannot be discussed without recognizing the medical mission of Dr. Ida Scudder and the Christian Medical College. (www.cmch-vellore.edu). Complex as it is, community well-being is intrinsically tied with women’s welfare and participation.

    Environment care has a long history of women’s participation in India (e.g., the Chipko Andolan movement, Vandana Shiva, and recent adivasi women environmental activism). Consequences of climate change: drought, unseasonal weather, and floods threaten lives, especially the vulnerable communities and call on women’s sagacious stewardship of resources.

    Across different religions and cultural groups in India, it is critical for women, as collaborators to envision and work towards a common future of mutual flourishing.

    From the local context to global partnership in witness to the gospel, a constant question arises: who is not at the table? The kingdom of God invites and embraces everyone without exception.
     
    .
     
    Read More
  • April

    Thursday, April 30, 2020

    We are all constantly trying to find new ways to cope with working and/or going to school from home as the virus continuously disrupts our daily lives. While many of us work and attend school comfortably from home, we must be grateful and recognize our frontline workers. These are our family members, friends, and other members within our community that are bravely fighting the pandemic so that we can be healthy and safe at home.

    Julia Domenick, class of 2022, was an Emergency Room Nurse before attending VTS. Over the weekend, she headed to New Jersey to provide support at a local hospital overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. Julia left campus with the support of the VTS community behind her. The members of our community stood in the streets to applaud her bravery and courage as she drove away. Julia will maintain being a nurse and finish the remainder of the semester online. We will continue to pray for Julia and her colleagues as they battle this pandemic.

    We recognize all essential workers during this hardship as they maintain the safety of our community. These heroes are keeping us safe despite health risks of their own, and their self-sacrifice and courage remains an inspiration. As this crisis continues to challenge us, our faith will stand strong and bountiful as we keep our loved ones close to our hearts and prayers.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Wednesday, April 29, 2020

    In normal circumstances, this is the time of year when our Center for Anglican Communion Studies (CACS) would host an event focusing on our Cross-Cultural Education Programs (CCEPs). This year, we have the opportunity to hear from CCEPers who visited Jerusalem, Costa Rica, and Cuba via video instead.

    Each person was asked to reflect on the following questions:
    1. In light of the experience you had on your CCEP, what was good preparation for you?
    2. During the CCEP, was there anything new you learned about yourself or about God?
    3. How will you integrate these experiences into ongoing ministry and witness?
     
    Do keep in touch with CACS  and view these videos via Facebook and on the VTS YouTube channel. I am grateful that CACS continues to adapt their work and ministry as they equip us to reflect on what it means to be formed for ministry in a pluralist and diverse Communion and world.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. 
    Dean and President 
    Read More
  • Tuesday, April 28, 2020

    All of the departments at the Seminary have had to find creative ways to adapt their programming during this time when the campus is closed and many staff are working from home.

    Our Center for Anglican Communion Studies (CACS) would have been hosting a visit by two distinguished mission scholars this week: Dr. Cathy Ross, Head of Church Mission Society’s Pioneer Mission Leadership Training at Oxford, and Dr. Atola Longkumer, of the Southeast Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies in Bangalore, India. Instead, CACS organized a Zoom conversation on “Women as Witness” with Cathy Ross.

    VTS seniors Jean Cotting and Carey Connors interviewed Cathy, with CACS Administrative Coordinator Molly O’Brien serving as host and moderator. Dr. Atola Ross will be writing a piece for CACS’s Anglican Commentary on the same topic. Do take the time to listen to this conversation on global mission priorities for our current times. These times present us with many challenges, but I remain impressed with the resilience and creativity of our staff and students. Thank you to CACS for bringing this global mission conversation to a VTS audience in a new way.  

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Monday, April 27, 2020

    Today we start the last week of classes for the spring semester. The academic year is slowly coming to an end. It has been extraordinary. Back in the fall of 2019, the community was coping with having to eat meals in a tent, with a limited menu, while the Refectory was being renovated. Then in January we celebrated the reopening of the new Refectory, having no idea that within eight weeks everything would change. We imagined that the fall would be the stressful semester, but the spring would be more relaxed. The truth was reversed. At least in the tent, we sat together, we laughed, we talked, we shook hands - suddenly it all changed.

    The great thing about the tent is that we knew there was an end date. The Refectory would be ready for the Spring semester. The tent would go away. However, we cannot be so sure about the trajectory of the coronavirus. There are many complex variables. The second wave, the way COVID-19 might co-mingle with the normal flu - we just don't know how this is going to end.

    Our theology does have a response to all this. It is a simple one. The truth is that the future is always unknown. We are constantly being invited to trust God. To imagine that life will unfold in this or that way is human hubris. The secret of living faithfully as a Christian is to live one day at a time, grateful for the gift of this day and the way in which God meets our needs. Trust God is the learning of this moment.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • TryTank Experimental Lab Expands Dial-A-Priest

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

    ALEXANDRIA,VA –  Two weeks ago, TryTank Experimental Lab, a partnership between Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) and General Theological Seminary (GTS), launched Dial-A-Priest, making end of life prayer accessible 24 hours a day to critically ill and dying Covid-19 patients isolated from loved ones. Based on demand, Dial-A Priest is now expanding service to include pastoral care for families, health professionals, and patients who may be hospitalized for reasons other than Covid-19, in a time when more anxiety and fear than ever surrounds illness and injury. 
     
    Besides receiving calls from the medical professionals, volunteers had received a few calls from individuals who were not COVID-19 patients and were in search of someone to listen compassionately in a fearful time. “That too is an opportunity for us to remind them that they are not alone and are indeed loved by God,” the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, director of TryTank, wrote in a follow-up e mail to the volunteer clergy announcing the expansion. It’s an opportunity to be God’s peace to others. 
     
    Dial-A-Priest is available to health care professionals and families in hospitals and nursing homes around the country through single number that connects callers to an Episcopal clergyperson for prayer, especially before intubations or surgeries, or last rites when needed – no matter a patient’s faith tradition or absence of faith tradition.  
     
    The hotline can be reached around the clock at (213) 423-3600. That number, as well as other resources, is online at www.DialAPriest.comOn mobile devices the site functions as one-click dialing. 
     
    TryTank Experimental Laboratory for Church Growth and Innovation is a joint project between Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria and the General Theological Seminary in New York CityTryTank offers inventive approaches to the challenges facing the Episcopal Church. Working in partnership across the Episcopal Church, TryTank works to understand the forces threatening the church in order to identify creative ways to equip future leaders to reinvigorate the church. 
     
    ***FOR INFORMATION CONTACT: 
    Dialapriest@vts.edu 

    ####

    Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary is the flagship Seminary of the Episcopal Church. One of our first benefactors was Francis Scott Key, whose poem provides the text for our national anthem. In the 191 years since being established, VTS has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those being ordained who received residential theological education. Visit us online at www.vts.edu.
    Read More
  • Friday, April 24, 2020

    I am still mortified. This inexperienced Zoom operator inadvertently exiled the Student Body President from the Zoom classroom experience. I was trying to speak to a set of PowerPoint slides. The gallery view of students was making it difficult for me to see my slides, so I wanted to hide the group from view. I thought clicking on the words "remove this participant" would hide the strip of students from view; unfortunately Mr. Dillon Green received the news that host had removed him from the meeting. I was aghast. 

    With some help from Ben Miller (part of Dillon's household), Dillon did rejoin us in the class. Then with the help of Cassandra Gravina and Reginald Gravina, Dillon was able to join the group discussions by phone. Later I did deliver to him, in the middle grove, while keeping a good 20 feet of physical distancing, a copy of my book, The New Apologetics, as part of my apology. 

    I do want to thank Dillon for his good humor in and through this moment. It is not good for a professor to inadvertently expel a student from his class. But it is good that the student was gentle, understanding, and seemed to appreciate a copy of the book. So thank you, Dillon.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Thriving in Ministry is forming the 2020-’22 cohort of Learning Communities

    Read More
  • Thursday, April 23, 2020

    Today at 11:30 a.m., I am meeting up with Dr. Gareth Jones. Dr. Jones is the Principal of Ming Hua Theological College in Ming Hua. We anticipate that we will be starting a joint doctoral program in Ming Hua, Hong Kong. Naturally with this close connection, we have been in conversation about COVID-19. Hong Kong was one of the first regions to be impacted by the coronavirus. As VTS made its own journey, we found ourselves listening carefully to Hong Kong - after all, this part of the world was ahead of us. Dr. Jones and I will take the opportunity to share our reflections on this moment with you all. 

    This program sponsored by Lifelong Learning reminds us that the virus is not just an American problem, but a global one. The whole world has been impacted by COVID-19. Already many humans around the globe have struggled with this; we are now joining them. We are walking the same journey of anxiety, pain, and deep disruption that has impacted so many people.

    The temptation is that our prayers are so often local. The virus remind us that we are truly connected. People everywhere are suffering. Let us remember in our prayers those that have come before and, sadly, those who will come after us. We are all in this together.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Wednesday, April 22, 2020

    Normally at this time of year, I write a commentary on how beautiful the campus is. It is partly the time of year; spring in Virginia is delightful. It is partly because normally we are working hard to prepare the grounds for Commencement. There are flower beds; and the grass is cut. As I stroll around the campus, I am struck afresh with the beauty of the place. This campus and this time of year are intended for Commencement. The fourth quarter builds up to this triumphant climax. So it is poignant that this year we are not making preparations to host the Board and the families of our seniors. 

    I had my one-on-one with the student body president yesterday. I asked Dillon about his sense of the students. Dillon mused on the challenge of offering such an assessment - after all, students are all over the country. However, he did observe, "Everyone is ready for this semester to end." I entirely understood. Some sense of grief and sadness over our loss is appropriate. 

    Using this moment to become even more self-aware is important work. Formation is often the act of naming. It is understanding how we are feeling and the reasons for those feelings. One gift of the Psalms is the sheer range of emotions that are captured in those texts. From praise to rage, it is all there. As we create space in our lives to bring ourselves to God, we bring all of our feelings to God. And if one of those feelings is a deep sense of loss, then please know God receives those feelings and responds by inviting us all to reside in God's deep abiding love.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Tuesday, April 21, 2020

    Today we offer our gratitude and recognition to the hard-working staff of the Bishop Payne Library. Happy National Library Workers Day! This is National Library Week, and Tuesday is the day to recognize all those who work in our libraries. Each Bishop Payne Library staff member has tackled the coronavirus work-from-home challenge with creativity and ingenuity. In a career normally defined by face-to-face patron engagement and thousands of books at hand, librarians have suddenly shifted into an entirely e-resource, remote access environment.

    And our library staff have risen to the occasion. They are responding quickly and creatively to student and faculty inquiries, locating e-versions or e-alternatives for patrons’ needs. They’re offering daily Zoom online office hours and providing guides to e-resources through the Bishop Payne Library Facebook page. They’re designing a Brightspace virtual library space (coming soon) and sponsoring an “I Miss My Library” contest for National Library Week. And they’re planning for the library’s move to the Welcome Center this summer and library renovation next year.

    Our hearty thanks to the library’s public services staff: Karen Madigan, Kathy Graham, and Vincent Williams; to technical services staff: Brad Hess, Cindy Harper, Tami Shepherd, Beth Lewis; to archivists Chris Pote and Ebonee Davis, to online bookstore coordinator Pat Burke, and volunteer Robert Reeves. And, of course, we appreciate very much the leadership of the director, Dr. Mitzi Budde.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • VTS Announces New Book by Robert S. Heaney, Ph.D., D.Phil

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

    Media Contact: Curtis Prather
    Tel: (703) 461–1782
     
    ALEXANDRIA, VA – Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) announces the publication of God’s Church for God’s World: A Practical Approach to Partnership in Mission (Church Publishing, 2020) co-edited by Robert S. Heaney, John Kafwanka K, and Hilda Kabia, with a foreword by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
     
    In his foreword to God’s Church for God’s World, Archbishop Welby depicts this work as illustrating perfectly “how collaboration and partnership among different cultures and thinking can enhance our understanding of the gospel…”
     
    Each of the ten chapters is written by two co-authors from distinct cultural locations. The study brings together fifteen nations or nationalities from across the world. Ecumenical voices as well as Muslim and Jewish voices are represented in a collection that seeks to discern the call of God for this generation.   
                                                                                                    
    An exciting and engaging text, it is designed to be accessible for individuals and groups. Each chapter calls readers into a rhythm of hearing scripture, hearing each other, and hearing the Spirit. Themes central to Christian witness dealt with in the book include discipleship and the mission of God, disagreeing well, hospitality, and mutuality. 
     
    “The beauty of this book is both its breadth and its accessibility,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of VTS. “It is a book for the Anglican Communion and it is a book for local congregations. It calls us all to a renewed practice of Christian witness amidst the cultural and religious pluralities of the 21st century. It is precisely the kind of book that leaders in the church need today.”
     
    This book will be a key resource for the Lambeth Conference (now postponed to the summer of 2021). It also represents an opportunity for Episcopalians to enter into ongoing processes of missional discernment in the wider Anglican Communion.
     
    The book can be purchased direct from the publisher here and from Amazon here.
     
    Robert S. Heaney is associate professor of Christian mission and director of the Center for Anglican Communion Studies, VTS. John Kafwanka K is the director for mission for the Anglican Communion, and Hilda Kabia is the first female dean of Msalato Theological College, Tanzania.
     
    ####

    Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary is the flagship Seminary of the Episcopal Church. One of our first benefactors was Francis Scott Key whose poem provides the text for our national anthem. In the 191 years since being established, VTS has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those being ordained who received residential theological education. Visit us online at www.vts.edu.
    Read More
  • Monday, April 20, 2020

    With the federal government issuing its guidance for a slow reopening of America, I am now starting conversations with the Faculty about what reopening will look like for VTS. I welcome your participation in the conversation. 

    So let me provide my read of the situation. The guidance seems to suggest that phase one still discourages gatherings of ten or more, although, interestingly, churches and restaurants may reopen. So we could open up the offices; with the exception of a few staff members, physical distancing in our office areas is possible. We could start chapel worship. Perhaps we could have masking tape on every third chair, which makes clear that the chair may be occupied, leaving plenty of space between each person (it would feel like the 8 a.m. service in every parish church). Classes would still have to be restricted to ten people. So perhaps they stay online or we could have ten people in the class with the professor and then Zoom broadcast to lecture rooms nearby for the rest of the class to participate. 

    We are hoping that something like this might be possible in the Fall. However, it is probably wise for us to expect a secondary outbreak of the virus and therefore the need for all classes to have an online option and experience. As you start thinking about the future, I welcome your ideas and suggestions. Let us draw on the wisdom of the crowd. What is the best way forward at this time?

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Friday, April 17, 2020

    In a meeting with Vice Presidents Knowles and Ballou, I learned a lovely story of how some on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic are coping. Melody Knowles shared that three members of her extended family are involved in the nursing profession. As a way of coping, one nurse was seen having embossed on his shirt the words "COVID-19; PSALM 91." Psalm 91 is that wonderful psalm of protection, where the Psalmist writes:
     
    You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
        who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
    will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
        my God, in whom I trust.”
    For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
        and from the deadly pestilence;
    he will cover you with his pinions,
        and under his wings you will find refuge.

    I found this moving. Faith feeds on Scripture. While COVID-19 strikes fear, we can find courage in the 91st Psalm. From fear to hope in the simple act of reversing the numbers.

    The Very Rev Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Thursday, March 16, 2020

    It is rather nice to write the words "Dr. Shawn Stout." He completed his doctorate at Catholic University of America, passing the oral defense of his dissertation on March 3, 2020. He is a graduate of the Seminary who has joined the ranks of the academy, having engaged with the rigors of a doctoral program. We are proud of his achievement.

    Yesterday, Shawn was the Zoom expert behind the Morning Prayer service, where Dr. Ruthanna Hooke was the officiant and I was the preacher. He handled the complexities of the technology with competence. He put both officiant and preacher at ease, as he prepared to start broadcasting.

    With COVID-19, his chapel duties have become easier. So, with the support of his supervisor, Dr. Hooke, he was seconded to the Academic Administration and Student Life department. He has become a key person in the design of the online commencement for graduating students. Shawn is not simply a well-formed priest who has a Ph.D., but he is also adaptable and willing to serve. I am delighted and grateful that he is part of the VTS family. Thank you, Shawn.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Wednesday, April 15, 2020

    The Sewanee Theological Review for Pentecost 2019 arrived on Saturday. It was an issue I was looking forward to. With the 1604 etching of Adam and Eve Before the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil on the cover, it introduces the reader to the crucial theme of conscience. And this particular issue is fabulous. With contributions from William Brosend, Gordon Lathrop, Peter Sedgwick (from Wales in the UK), Timothy Sedgwick, and Ellen Wondra, the whole issue of conscience is considered from a variety of different perspectives.

    I was a contributor to the volume; I took part because I wanted to honor my good friend and distinguished colleague Dr. Timothy Sedgwick. The entire issue was a result of a conference held in his honor at VTS. Philip Turner provides a delightful review of the many projects of Dr. Sedgwick; and William Brosend provides a delightful portrait of Tim in his "Tim Sedgwick - Teacher, Mentor, Scholar, and Friend." This entire issue is a lovely mixture of the technically demanding academic reflection on the formation of conscience and the personal portrait of a delightful Christian and a great scholar.

    Tim is now settling into new patterns of living on the West Coast. He is following closely the community as we navigate the pandemic on the campus. And as decisions are made about the best way forward, I am aware of the gift of Tim in my own life. His wisdom formed me. For that connection and grace in my life, I am deeply grateful.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Tuesday, April 14, 2020

    Easter became a moment when community at Virginia Theological Seminary burst into life. A new issue of These Desperate Times appeared. Pete Nunnally did his magic once again and produced an Easter video featuring the talent of the students, faculty, and staff. And there was a lovely virtual Easter vigil where families met up and shared the moment via Zoom. Community was alive and well this weekend at VTS.

    It is not surprising that there are moments in ministry when you will find yourself saying, "I wasn't taught in Seminary how to handle this." The paradox of Seminary is that some gifts of formation are gifts of the moment when you are present. So those seminarians who were with us in 2010  lived through the moment when we learned as a community how to worship when your chapel goes up in flames. And for our seminarians in 2020, their formation gift is how to live in community while in a pandemic.

    This weekend was a crucial moment of formation. You taught each other the importance of listening to each other; you taught each other how to laugh and sing while in different spaces; and you taught each other how to be virtually present to each other. Formation happens; God is present; and the gift of the moment is the gift of each other.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Thursday, April 9, 2020

    For Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the Seminary is closed; this is the last commentary until Tuesday. We pause and observe the momentous significance of these days. Lent is finally over; Easter is arriving.

    It is very difficult to judge different periods of history. It is tempting to write that this is the strangest Lent that the Seminary has ever observed, but who knows what the leadership of the Seminary did in the Civil War. Yet is true that this has been one of the hardest and strangest Lents in living memory. We managed Ash Wednesday; we managed the Quiet Day; and then Lent became isolation, social distancing, and pandemic.

    Living life from the perspective of the Church Calendar reminds us afresh that overlaid on our human calendar is a divine one. The story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus transcends the human drama. We are constantly invited by the Church Calendar to lift up our eyes to the divine plan for our lives. This Easter let us trust in the God who created eternal and transformative possibilities from the depths of a cruel and unjust cruxificion. May you all have a Holy Good Friday and a Blessed Easter.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Wednesday, April 8, 2020

    "Dial a Priest" was rolled out by the Trytank on Monday. The idea is simple. In a season where hospitals are overwhelmed and where pastoral care is limited because of "physical distancing," the Seminary steps in to suggest a way forward. When a hospital dials a number on behalf of a patient, the call goes to one of a hundred experienced clergy, who will pick up and provide pastoral care or prayers for the end of life. Our goal is to make sure that the dying do not feel alone at this time. It is a simple idea: we provide this free service to support those who are most in need.

    I am grateful to the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, our director of the Trytank. Working closely with his supervisor, Dr. Lisa Kimball, this idea emerged and was implemented within days. Then thanks to the connections that Mr. Curtis Prather has developed in the media, several media outlets picked the idea up. The coverage on NBC I thought was particularly good.

    With savings and investments collapsing and people losing their jobs, the Seminary is treading carefully around fundraising in this season. We are, instead, praying hard for those whose lives have been broken by this moment. If, however, you are able to give, then I do invite you to support the Seminary's annual fund as we provide this free service to hospitals. We are all trying to do our bit in this difficult and extraordinary season. 

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. 
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Tuesday, April 7, 2020

    Yesterday I had my spiritual direction session with the Rev. Martin Smith. After we had discussed how distracted my prayer life is, how anxious I am, and how there are moments when I just need to scream, we moved to the difference between optimism and hope.

    Martin explained that we are now realizing how a faith that loses the apocalyptic cannot speak to a moment like this. The modern faith combination of the therapeutic (how being religious can make you feel well) and a progressiveness (the next day will be better) does not work in chaotic seasons. The apocalyptic reminds us to have confidence in God - confidence in the future that God has planned - which transcends a bland optimism (everything is going to be OK). Christian hope starts where optimism fails; it is an awareness that ultimately there is only God, everything else that we imagine can provide security is a form of idolatry. 

    This was a message I needed to hear; it is a good message to hear during this strange Holy Week. Let us feed on the Christian Hope - a trust that transcends the chaos.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Monday, April 6, 2020

    This is going to be an extraordinary Holy Week. It is important for us to find ways to be fed as we walk the week with Christ to the cross. Let us all give some deep thought as to how to mark this week of the year.

    There is a lively national debate about how to do church. Generally the advice has been that we must do church online, and it should be either Morning Prayer or a "Spiritual Communion." The majority of Bishops have been recommending that we avoid "drive-by communion" or "virtual communion." The key part of the argument has been the need for the act of remembrance to involve a community, which is present. It is the community gathered that makes a Eucharist possible.

    This will not be the last time when gathering is made impossible. So I invite us all to join the conversation. Take some time to read around this question: give some thought to some of the complex issues, and do take a view. For students, this is a key moment of formation. Certain very fundamental decisions are being made; do seize the moment to make informed and thoughtful decisions.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • TryTank Experimental Lab launches “Dial-A-Priest”

    Read More
  • Friday, April 3, 2020

    We are all learning to Zoom. We are all staring endlessly at our screens. Meetings used to be a break from screens; at least then we were able to sit together in conference rooms and chat with each other. But suddenly, our lives are just staring at screens. Classes are on screens; meetings are on screens; and emails are on screens. Our lives are spent staring at devices.

    I do invite everyone to make sure that they take a break from the screens. Take a walk. Do the seven minute workout. Pick up the Book of Common Prayer and take yourself through the "Daily Devotions for Families and Individuals." Do something, anything, other than look at a screen for at least part of the day.

    And finally, can I commend those who are finding ways to be humorous in this moment? I love the students who create interesting virtual backdrops. Let's pick ourselves up and be in the Rockies or on the moon or at the beach. If we are going to Zoom, then let us have some fun doing it.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Thursday, March 2, 2020

    I found the commemoration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King program last night disturbing and moving. It was a program that was literally close to home. It was about Virginia Theological Seminary and reparations. Put together by our gifted and able director of Multicultural Ministries, the Rev. Dr. Joseph Thompson, it was an important and historic program. The Rev. Joseph Constant spoke movingly about the endless missed opportunities by the Seminary to advance the work of justice. Dr. Catherine Meeks brought her scholarly insight and wisdom to the debate around reparations. She called on institutions to locate reparations in the wider context of systems of oppressions that continue to cause suffering.

    Racism is constantly adapting and changing. Those of us who are white find ways of resisting the hard work of facing up to our racism - our tendency to limit the word 'racist' to those who are explicitly ignorant and bigoted means that we can ignore our "aversive racism" or our behaviors and assumptions that illustrate that we are participating in a language and a culture that constantly assumes the superiority of whiteness.

    Let me commit afresh that Virginia Theological Seminary will continue to strive to be a place which confronts our propensities to racism and really does seek to be a place that is different. Whiteness has inflicted much evil on persons of color in the past; the time has come to do everything we can to make the future different.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • This Emergent Occasion

    Lucinda Mosher
    In 1623, when he was in his early 50s, the great Renaissance poet John Donne (1571/2– 1631) crafted an extended theological reflection on a grave illness from which he had come close to dying. Called Devotions on Emergent Occasions, the work has twenty-three sections, each containing a “meditation,” an “expostulation,” and a lengthy prayer. Given Donne’s fondness for wordplay, it is reasonable to presume that this work’s title has double meaning. That is, in Donne’s use of the term, “emergent” carries the sense both of “budding” or “developing” and of “being an emergency.” In both senses, “emergent” well describes the moment in which we have been placed by the rapid, global spread of the new COVID-19 disease. No matter what our location, we are in the midst of a situation that is extremely fluid and evolving; an occasion that truly is an emergency.

    In his meditation for the seventeenth section of his Devotions, Donne writes: “No man is an island entire of itself; every person is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; . . . any person's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” Indeed, we are all in this pandemic together. “Isn’t it obvious?” asks the great Vietnamese Buddhist poet Thich Nhat Hanh. “Isn’t it obvious that we ‘inter-are’?”[i] It has always been so; it is just clearer now.

    Our interconnectedness can be the source of grave danger; and, while under siege by a novel virus, we must take that fact seriously. Yet affirmation of our interconnectedness can be as well the source of mutual support, collaboration, and transformation. Periodic gatherings—for example, the parish annual meeting; every-three-years convening of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church; the holding (every ten years or so) of the Lambeth Conference of Bishops of the Anglican Communion—are such affirmations. -Unfortunately, the pandemic has forced postponement of the next Lambeth Conference until the summer of 2021; but the preparations for this global gathering of Anglican leaders may still bear fruit in the meantime. Last month (March) saw the release of God’s Church for God’s World: A Practical Approach to Partnership in Mission, edited by Robert S. Heaney, John Kafwanka K, and Hilda Kabia (Church Publishing, 2020). Designed as a theological resource for Lambeth Conference 2020 attendees, this book will be useful to anyone ready to take a fresh look at the many dimensions of our interrelatedness as Anglicans.

    Indeed, Lambeth 2021 will be a means of making obvious the fact that we of the Anglican Communion “inter-are.” May that gathering, albeit delayed, be an emergent occasion in the sense of the budding forth of new possibilities for our common life as Christians.
     
    Lucinda Mosher, Th.D.
    CACS Fellow in World Anglicanism
    Feast of Saint Joseph 2020


    [i] From Call me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh” (Parallax Press, 2005).
    Read More
  • Wednesday, April 1, 2020

    When I wanted to deliver daffodils to the dorms, Valerie Mayo helped organize more groups of students to deliver them to those on quarantine. When we had a suspected case of COVID-19, I was with Valerie Mayo as we made the 911 call and had the student tested. When I was waiting for a mail delivery, Valerie Mayo helped me out. Three small ways in which Valerie Mayo has made a difference. 

    Valerie is blessed with a sunny, optimistic, can-do disposition. Like many parents, she has children at home (and I would love us to organize the best virtual prom conceivable for her daughter); she has the inevitable anxieties about the looming move; and she carries the weight of bringing concerns from the students to the administration. Yet with all this, she projects calm and offers a smile to everyone she meets.

    One prays for people like Valerie in a system at a time like this. Valerie has done and is doing a remarkable job. For her presence, I am grateful.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • March

    Tuesday, March 31, 2020

    The Governor of Virginia has issued a statewide “Stay at Home” order through to June 10, 2020. A key part of this order is to discourage the movement of persons to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We must be ready to play our part.

    I will be sending two emails today - one to the seminarians and one to all employees. This edict has significant implications for the Seminary. I am proud of the response of the Seminary thus far. A significant percentage of our community has gone into voluntary quarantine and as a result we seem to have stopped the trajectory of the coronavirus that came onto the campus from a contextual ministry site. Now we need to continue to play our part; we need to help keep ourselves healthy and therefore others healthy.

    I must admit June 10, 2020, feels like a long time. I have agonized over each decision. Was I right to insist that the May commencement would not be face to face? Was I being premature? However, as the Governor receives the advice of his public health professionals, it is clear that we need to adjust our expectations to a longer journey rather than a shorter one. So we say the Daily Office; so we create new exercise patterns; and so we continue to give thanks to God for the gift of each new day.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • VTS to follow statewide stay-at-home order through June 10

    Read More
  • Monday, March 30, 2020

    It is hard to learn that we need to look for somewhere else to live. I sent a difficult email on Friday to the occupants of the dorms. We are anticipating looming problems and trying to make sure that we can support those who remain resident. In my judgment, COVID-19 is the hardest, most constantly changing, multi-faceted problem the Seminary has faced in my tenure as dean. I am both sorry for these changing requirements and completely understand how hard it is for students to navigate them.

    Yesterday I joined online church service at St. Paul's. And I found the Rev. Alyse Viggiano's sermon very moving. She captured a feature of this experience so well. Being separated, being trapped, and having to isolate are really hard. Even for an introvert - even for the person who loves to work remotely, the enforced nature of the experience is crippling. We are living an experience of Lent with a difference; an experience which is in so many ways brutal. 

    Given all this, I was grateful for two gifts to the community provided by the students. A new issue of These Desperate Times (a humorous newsletter) appeared with especially apt advice on navigating Zoom, and a video of students, faculty, and staff singing How Great Thou Art was posted. Both are reminders of how grace can be found in the hardest to times. Thank you to all those organizing these imaginative ways of connecting community.


    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Friday March 27, 2020

    So much has unraveled so quickly. Lambeth 2020 has been postponed for at least a year. Summer programming for the Seminary has had to be adjusted. Our proposed strategic planning process for the May Board meeting is being replaced with a Zoom Board meeting which will focus on the essentials for governance. With the exception of the search for the professor of Church Music, there is a hiring freeze in place. And Vice President Jacqui Ballou and I are having to talk about a "provisional" budget, with departments needing to be flexible.

    However, one anxiety that emerged in the Zoom Dean's Table yesterday can be allayed. The financial aid packages for full-time students will be available for academic year 2020-21. It is true that these funds are in our endowment that saw a dramatic fall due to the stock market crash. However, the mixture of rolling quarters and dedicated funds should safeguard these packages. Although other parts of the Seminary operation are being reexamined, the core financial aid package will be available.

    There is a constant debate inside institutions. Is it appropriate to invite our stakeholders into the complexity of our dilemmas or is it wiser just to share the decisions without knowing the reasoning behind them? This is a place where a bit of both is appropriate; a committee of the whole is not practical; but simply sharing the edicts without any background is not helpful. At VTS, we strive for "awareness" - transparency about the factors that are being weighed as we find a way forward. And we invite your ideas and suggestions into the process; we are strong and fortunate; let us find a way forward together. 

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Thursday, March 26, 2020

    In this moment, we all are living with deep anxiety and fear, partly fueled by an ever-changing picture. And yet, we know of this simple Gospel truth: in the end everything is unreliable, everything is unsure, save for the God we worship. And that is enough! God’s love, incarnated through our actions and our prayers, is enough. At moments when we are most afraid, we can hear the words of angels, “Be not afraid.” We are invited to trust and to hope.
     
    I am so impressed with how members of this community continue to nurture each other. And I am grateful for the many ways that you reach beyond this campus. Whether it is through the activity of LifeLong Learning, students and faculty participating in online worship, or staff members working from home so that the mission of the Seminary continues, we are living community in a new and extraordinary way.
     
    While none of us knows what challenges will come tomorrow, we know that we walk with God in this time of travail. And we know that even though physically separated, we do walk together. This is hard. It is uncertain, but let give thanks for the great goodness and grace that we see even now. We will overcome this.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • A Fresh Lukan Moment Ahead of the Bicentennial: Virginia Seminary in Global Mission

    Wanjiru Gitau
    As Virginia Theological Seminary looks forward to commemorating its 200th anniversary, the institution will also reflect on the role it has played in global mission throughout the Anglican Communion. With Bill Sachs, I look forward to framing that narrative over the next two years.  

    This semester, I have the joy of teaching a congregational studies course to a bunch of practical theology doctoral students. I find that the task of empirical research among living congregations, and telling those stories, is a lot like what Luke found himself doing in his two-volume work in the New Testament, Luke-Acts. He opens with these words:   
    “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. In the time of Herod King of Judea, there was...” Luke 1: 1-5 

    Luke proceeds to present the most absorbing narrative about this man called Jesus, the band of followers he called disciples, and the movement that grew up from his incarnational ministry.  

    Historians tell us that Luke wrote his account of the Jesus phenomena some time long after Jesus had passed from the earthly scene; his movement had taken a definite shape and was in a phase of transition. Further, the backdrop of the two-volume work seems to be a crisis of identity for a now predominantly gentile church: at least half a century had passed since the crucial events around Jesus. Thanks to Paul’s missionary and pastoral work, what had begun as a renewal movement within Judaism had undergone a complete transformation into the gentile church. Meanwhile, the destruction of Jerusalem had the Christians questioning their place in relation to the faith of old Israel, and how they were to relate to the earthly Jesus, the memory of whose life stories were fast receding into the past. As a second-generation church, the community showed the wear and tear of the passage of time and diminished charisma: from within, flagging enthusiasm for witness and spiritual life; from without, a fluid identity among dislocated communities; from abroad, hostility and indifferenceby a world increasingly disruptive to all that society once stood for. It didn’t look too good for the man who turned Isaiah’s servant call into the Nazareth manifesto of Luke 4.  

    From this perspective, Virginia Seminary stands on the crown of a hill that feels eerily familiar.  The seminary was founded amid deep concerns about offering quality education for clergy in the Episcopal Church, concerns that as leaders in the church they might witness to the deposit of the faith as handed down by the apostles and through the faithful church over time. The story is told how the seminary would grow in tandem with the western missionary movement that flowered and flourished around the world, alongside the ebb and flow of national and global events. In recent decades, the seminary, just like the Anglican Communion, senses the dislocations of the Christian movement within the broader society. For those who would look further afield for fresh inspiration, mission is not what it once was, and its unclear what it should be even now. Where missionaries trailblazed frontiers, churches they planted have grown and transformed beyond all expectation, a narrative that is at the heart of studies in world Christianity. 

    If we are reading the Lukan narrative correctly, this is not necessarily a bad place to be. We are offered an opportunity to imaginatively explore the contours of the past so as to discern direction for the future. It strikes the thoughtful reader that unlike the gospel of John, Luke offers fewer, if any, propositional statements of belief or theology about Jesus. Rather, Luke tells stories, narratives, events of the life of Jesus, located concretely in the geography of Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem and further out in Acts. The third gospel is a treasure trove to the practical theologian. In named persons, in common life themes, in encounter with the other, Luke pioneers a historiography that fills the gaps for a changing community.Luke is not merely a chronicler, not merely telling the stories in catalogue fashion as flow and course of mission. Rather, as he observes the problem posed by the passage of time, he structures his mission ecclesiology to interpret—make sense of the timesin a way that uncannily feels like that of via media, the middle of the road reading of the times embraced by the best of Anglican tradition. 

    Like the movement Luke was writing for in the 80s of the first century, the global church, and particularly the Anglican Communion finds itself in a liminal state at the nexus of the pluralist-universal versus the global-local continuum. Or something akin to that, if we can put a finger on it. For our book project, it is this threshold that invites reconnaissance with the heart of Christian faith as handed via media and lived by new peoples, in new local situations, yet with the imprint of Virginia Theological Seminary firmly at the center of our exploration.

    Bill Sachs and I look forward to engaging in a new Lukan moment as we investigate the myriad interactions of the institution’s mission contribution in the global communion, particularly in five locations—Liberia, Brazil, Jerusalem, Tanzania and Japan. Arguably, the seminary’s influence extends far and wide through the contributions of graduates in local congregations. What does it mean to be a Christian witness in a more religiously diverse and pluralist country, a world experiencing economic and technological disruptions, facing new demographic transitions, and disquieting geopolitical configurations?  These are questions at the heart of our upcoming research, and we shall be reflecting on them from time to time as we gather stories and listen for Jesus’s continued adventure through his Holy Spirit at work in his church.  

    If you read Luke-Acts in one sitting, possibly for the first time, it is not only a page-turner, you are also left hankering for more story. So many questions, so many apparently unfinished threads...until you realize the church down the ages has picked up the story, each generation passing it on to the next as anticipated by the Psalmist in Psalm 145. We are weaving new yarns in our times using those unfinished threads, to be passed on to the next. Together with Bill, I can’t wait to pick and weave the yarn of the VTS contribution to the Anglican Communion and the global church. Stay tuned for more updates here.  

    Read More
  • Wednesday, March 25, 2020

    Keeping spaces clean during a pandemic is crucial. So yesterday I joined Ms. Cristina Hurtado, Ms. Ana Jovel, and Mr. Jeff Harre and helped clean the four dorms. It was hard work. Thanks to the experience of the team, they were already ultra alert to best practices regarding safety in a pandemic. (For example, you use new latex gloves in each dorm and you discard the gloves without touching the exterior.) The result was four hours of hard and interesting work.

    We continue to have a significant residential community. Our apartments are still full of families; we have over thirty people still in the dorms. We are still trying to provide meals and keep spaces clean. Colleges, which primarily comprise undergraduates, were able to empty their dorms over the spring break. It is harder for a graduate school to do this. So these essential services - meals, cleaning, repairs - need to continue. For this, we require staff to come to campus.

    I am deeply grateful for the staff of Meriwether Godsey, Sodexo (our contract cleaning staff), and our staff who come to the campus. Inevitably, there is anxiety. We are a campus with two persons who have tested positive and many have been in quarantine. These women and men are the heroes of our moment. They keep a place like VTS going. For their service, I am grateful.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Tuesday, March 24, 2020

    Yesterday I had my one-on-one with the student body president, Mr. Dillion Green. He was on the cusp of being released from quarantine and was looking forward to the opportunity to get out beyond the small room in his dorm. Our conversation ranged widely from the campus dog park (should we close it, as Alexandria City has done with their dog parks?) to how does the Dean's Table work when the student body is now scattered around the United States.

    It was an important conversation. We are all in the process of making the Seminary anew. We are designing a Seminary for this moment. This is hard work. We are having to revisit all the basic features of our shared life. We are determined to ensure that the educational experience remains a high experience. We are also being flexible, as seen recently, by the decision of the Faculty to give students the option of finishing classes "pass/fail."

    Everyone is striving to be flexible. This is right and good. I am pleased with the hard work of everyone. Thank you for everything you are doing.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Monday, March 23, 2020

    How do we serve in a time when "residential theological education" cannot be the only way of learning? Fortunately, we have a team who have been thinking about this for many years. Lifelong Learning illustrated their experience and skill by leading a one-hour webinar on Friday called "Triduum Under Quarantine: Planning Holy Week Services That Honor Social Distancing." Fortunately the Rev. Dr. James Farwell (the author of one of the finest books on the Triduum, This Is the Night: Suffering, Salvation, and the Liturgies of Holy Week) was willing to team up with Dr. Lisa Kimball to provide this webinar. We had 886 registrations for the program.
     
    The reaction was positive. The Rev. Robin Denny sent a message saying, "This morning I was feeling tired and anxious, in our first day of statewide shelter in place. And then I saw your face and heard your voice and the prayer Kate wrote and it was like peace and joy came down! After all this WONDERFUL helpful stuff from you and Jim, I feel so encouraged and hopeful and centered and even excited to do this work! I can’t thank you enough. You are the best!!!" 
     
    The Seminary is still hard at work. We are still serving. We are still making a difference. Thank you the remarkable team in Lifelong Learning.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Friday, March 20, 2020

    Does life go on? We believe that it does. So, what’s the latest on campus construction? 
     
    Construction Update:

    We are mindful of COVID-19’s impact on Addison. For now the construction site is still operating, but that could change any day. We will need inspections by the city of Alexandria in the next four weeks, and those workers may be furloughed. One good thing is that the installation of the technology is scheduled for May and that work can take place, even without occupancy inspections. 
     
    Please find attached two photographs of ongoing work. The photographs are of the LLL Mezzanine and our beloved Flamingo.

     

    Signs of hope for the future! 

    The Rev. Barney Hawkins, Ph.D.
    Co-Director of the Capital Campaign
    Read More
  • COVID-19 Update | March 19

    Read More
  • Thursday, March 19, 2020

    Yesterday, the Investment Committee convened. It was sobering. The funds invested along with the endowment have fallen precipitously. It is clear that as we finalize the budget, we will need to look long and hard at every item of expenditure. Our health crisis is now a budget crisis. These are, indeed, difficult times.

    As these macro dilemmas shape our moment, so the micro matters will become areas of frustration. It is difficult to be calm and keep everything in perspective all the time. Disagreements in our community will emerge; and these disagreements could easily become vehicles for our pent up frustration with the macro dilemmas.

    At moments like this, we need to keep a sense of perspective. As we face difficulties, we need to remember all those whose lives are falling apart as the economy collapses. As we watch the investments and endowment of the Seminary fall, we need to remember all those institutions where the investments and endowment of the Seminary are smaller and survival of the institution is in question. As we feel afraid and anxious, we need to remember all those who live with fear and anxiety all the time. I invite us all to turn our anxieties and fears at this moment into prayers for others who constantly live with anxiety and fear. 

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Wednesday, March 18, 2020

    I loved this video. It was such a neat idea. The campus is closed; people are working remotely; some are on quarantine; others are conscious that they must practice social distancing. How do we continue to witness to our interconnection? How do we affirm our shared faith in Christ within the community?

    So this video emerged - a video with contributors from students, faculty, and staff. Starting with the isolation of darkness, and finishing with the message being communicated in sign language, various voices are spliced together to create a testimony to our shared faith and hope. "It is well with my soul" is an important message for this moment. Looking at the big picture, God has redeemed us, God loves us, and God is with us. Nothing can take these truths from us.

    I am proud of our students as they navigate this moment. Thank you for teaching me about the gift of grace in hard moments.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Tuesday, March 17, 2020

    It was impressive. Ms. Juanita Sanchez, our director of the Butterfly House, with the help of Shauna Gonzalez, put together a splendid set of resources for children. I counted twenty links to imaginative online resources. Everything from science activities to reading was captured in this comprehensive email. Given we follow a Reggio curriculum, it was also good to see plenty of "Reggio-inspired activities," so that this time away from the Butterfly House can include some continuity of the teaching experience. What I found especially interesting were the tips at the end. I suspect plenty of parents would be pleased to learn that "you do not need to burn your printer ink out with 1,000 free worksheets off the internet."

    Along with many other departments, we are striving at VTS to provide constructive suggestions at this difficult time. It has been an astonishing three weeks, from a normal that included "class, chapel, and lunch" to a new normal that just involves "online." And this is taking some real adjustment. Alexandria Public Schools have sent children home until at least April 13. Let us all join the leadership of the Butterfly House and Lifelong Learning (who have been excellent in all this) in thinking of ways in which we can solve problems for the parents and alums who are struggling to adjust to this weird new normal.

    A big thank you to Juanita and her leadership of the Butterfly House. I am truly impressed.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Monday, March 16, 2020

    This is becoming a memorable Lent. This is the Lent when church was canceled; large numbers of people were required to stay in their rooms while under voluntary quarantine; and a deep pervasive sense of anxiety permeated our culture.

    It is right that this moment is taken with deep seriousness. If the United States follows the trajectory of Europe (in particular Italy), then we will suddenly encounter a marked crisis, where hospital beds are scarce and the consequences are deadly. Fortunately, if the actions of Virginia Theological Seminary become the norm, where those who might be infected step away for a season, then the curve will flatten and our experience of this pandemic will be easier.

    We cannot be complacent and need to continue to be vigilant and responsible. I am grateful for all our efforts thus far and hope that we will continue.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Friday, March 13, 2020

    In a crisis people pull together, and yesterday was full of touches of real grace and community. To make a presentation to over a hundred employees of VTS, I needed some help, and Sarah Stonesifer brought her digital missioner skills to the moment. I was given a tutorial on how to handle a Zoom webinar. When the issue of arranging mail delivery arose, I had a lovely email from Annie Jung offering herself and her children to take shifts, helping to sort and deliver incoming mail. And when I arrived in the Welcome Center to inquire about mail delivery in the early afternoon, I found Larry Civale, who was following the example of Allen Gaye who had covered the morning, at the ready to receive packages.

    When the continuing isolation continued to cut deep into the community, up stepped Pete Nunnally with the 'Video Song Project to Knit VTS Together.' And as I agonized over how to balance the complexities of the day, countless members of the community helped out. I was deeply grateful.

    We do not know exactly how all of this will pan out. Anxiety and real suffering are pervasive. There are clearly economic consequences which are significant. Church services have been canceled. Schools are going online. Even March Madness has been dramatically truncated. But I do know this that in countless small ways yesterday, the love of Christ was expressed by members of this community. This is a seed of real hope. This will get us through.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • COVID-19 Update | March 11

    Read More
  • Thursday, March 12, 2020

    It is with sadness that I report we have a confirmed case of COVID-19 on the campus. This is the first confirmed case in Alexandria. The student had been feeling unwell since Monday and then went into self-quarantine. I spoke to her last night. She reports that she is much improved. I am hopeful that her personal journey with COVID-19 is coming to an end.

    I announced last night that the campus is closed. We will ask for a deep clean of the campus. Classes will continue on-line. Membership of the Episcopal High School gym has been suspended. 1823 is closed. The Butterfly House and Library are both closed. We will discourage gathering in large numbers. We need to fight this virus by not giving it an opportunity to spread.

    Much of the work of the seminary can continue to happen remotely. This should happen. Meanwhile in this Lenten season we pause. We recognize that we are all interconnected. We recognize our need to serve each other. We pray for each other; and, as everything seems so out of control, we offer our anxiety to God and we pray for that "peace that the world cannot give" - the peace of God to settle in our hearts and minds.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Wednesday, March 11, 2020

    The Seminary is going online. Learning will continue. Assignments will be set, and lectures will take place. We are doing this to make sure everyone learns, and that we keep everyone safe. As we navigate the complexity of policy in this moment, our priority is the health of all. So along with many other universities in the region, we are avoiding large classes and inviting people to learn safely.

    In addition, we are taking a break from corporate worship. We are giving the chapel space some time to completely recover. Hopefully, we can be back into the space after spring break. Meanwhile, take a moment to deepen your own personal devotions. There is much to pray about at this time. 

    These are difficult decisions. It is always a matter of balance. I spent much of yesterday speaking to the Alexandria Health Department. They are doing everything they can to support us and to contain the virus. Just to be clear, our policy as a Seminary is to follow the advice of the health professionals. This is the best way forward.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Tuesday, March 10, 2020

    Yesterday the coronavirus was the topic of the commentary. Today the coronavirus is still the topic of the commentary. We have had a friend of the Seminary test positive for COVID-19. We are now handling the repercussions of that discovery.

    Following the guidance from the DC Department of Health, we are requiring all those who were in contact with the Rev. Tim Cole to participate in self-imposed isolation. We have six seminarians, two faculty members, and one staff person currently in that state. Fortunately, none of these people are showing any signs of the virus. This is good.

    We would love everyone to stay well. We would love, in particular, that those who are "higher risk" (as defined by the CDC, namely, older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease) stay well. We are seeking balance. We do not want to overreact, but we do want to take appropriate precautions, especially concerning hygiene, so that we all get through this as well as we can. Click here for more information.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President


    Read More
  • VTS Announces Move to Online Classes and Chapel Closure

    Read More
  • Monday, March 9, 2020

    Our prayers are with the Rev. Tim Cole. He has not traveled. He has been careful. But he has been confirmed as the first COVID-19 case in the DC area. We pray for the family, for the congregation, and those near him who are anxious.

    With the coronavirus in the DC region and at an Episcopal Church, we will continue to be careful and vigilant. The advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is clear: washing hands, using hand sanitizer, avoiding handshakes, and not touching one's face helps prevent the spread of viruses.  

    I will address the community at the 8:30 a.m. Eucharist tomorrow. We will reflect a little on how we will worship together going forward. Our goal is simple: we want a safe and healthy community. Meanwhile please pray for those affected and pray for those who are at the front line handling this crisis.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Friday, March 6, 2020

    "So what are we doing?" Jim Mathes whispers to me just before Morning Prayer is about to start. "In a season of Lent, we should not add seat cushions to make our lives more comfortable," he goes on. It's a good point. So please let me use this commentary to explain.

    Our chapel is divine for music. One cannot help but have a heart that soars, as the music climbs heaven-bound. But the acoustics that work for music work less well for the spoken word. So we have been looking for ways in which we can make changes that keep the impressive sound for music, but improve listeners' experience with the spoken word.

    On advice from an acoustician, we have put seat cushions in the Morning Prayer transept (the south transept). Seat cushions create the effect of forty people sitting there, which absorbs some of the echo. So when we hold the Eucharist, where typically people sit in the west and north transepts, we will now have seat cushion occupants in the south transept.

    It is a constant matter of balance. We are working hard to get it right. Let me know if you feel this has made a difference. Meanwhile enjoy having a little more comfort while you participate in Morning Prayer, even in Lent.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Shining a Light on the Church in Tanzania during Women's History Month

    Over the four Fridays of March, VTS' online publication On Holy Hill will hear from Ebonee Davis, archivist for the African American Episcopal Historical Collection. Ebonee will share details about her trip to visit the Diocese of Tanganyika, Tanzania's women's conference. Stay tuned for more by visiting VTS.edu each week or follow the hashtag #TZWomenVTS on social media.

    I recently traveled to Tanzania for a conference that gathered more than 300 women from across the Diocese of Central Tanganyika. While there, I had the privilege of conducting roundtable-style oral history interviews with nearly 60 of these women. In honor of Women’s History Month, I’ll be sharing their stories to bring light and amplify voices not often heard. These stories are not always easy to hear; they aren’t sugar-coated or tinged with just the right amount of tragedy to garner the gaze of a well-meaning Western world. They’re simply the candid, raw reflections of women willing to reveal at least a bit of their lives to us.
    Read More
  • Thursday, March 5, 2020

    Virginia Theological Seminary is a community that regularly opens itself to discussion and exploration. Tonight, I will host a Deanery event that invites us to re-examine how we think about addiction. One of the most widely accepted ways of describing addiction is as a disease, but do we realize what we are saying? Our presenter, alumni David Tremaine, says, “Our current language and approach to addiction is not only lacking in depth, but is keeping us blind to an amazing way that God is working in each and every one of us. What if our addictions are not broken parts of us that we have to get rid of, but invitations from God to new depth and transformation?” David will present a new way of seeing addiction and invite us to something more in our humanity, something that we will never find if we continue to wish away our suffering.

    David Tremaine is a husband, father, author, and recovering addict. He holds an M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary and a BS in Psychology from the University of Florida. He is the author of The Beautiful Letdown: An Addict's Theology of Addiction, as well as a contributor to the blog The Beautiful Letdown: A Theology of Hope and Suffering, in which he explores understanding addiction not as a diseased part of our humanity, but as a blessed part of our spiritual journey, and sheds new light on this deeply ingrained experience of God. Tremaine is also a retreat leader and teacher, and works as a layperson in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, currently as the Minister of Formation at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in San Diego, CA.

    Welcome, David! 

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Wednesday, March 4, 2020

    The Winter 2020 issue of the Virginia Theological Seminarmagazine is now out, a blockbuster with 44 pages of content. It captures a complex and busy season. Our professor of Church Music, the Rev. William B. Roberts, D.M.A., is featured at some length, as we celebrate his years of service with us. Rachel L. Swarn's deep and rich article on reparations is reprinted from the New York Times. We feature new faculty and celebrate the two recipients of the Dean's Cross - Elbert "Bert" Ransom, Jr., and Naomi Lewis Brooks. Our prestigious lectures are described, and of course, this issue captures Convocation 2019. 

    It is humbling to read this issue. There is so much of value happening. In countless ways, lives are being changed; the Spirit is at work. I found reading the Alumni Spotlight on the Rev. Ginny Wilder, '12, very moving. She was a delightful student; she is a fabulous priest; and her description of how the loss of the 1881 Chapel felt brought back powerful memories. It was a reminder that what happens in this place stays with those formed in this place. And Ginny is a case of someone who has gone out and made a difference.

    It is hard work putting together an issue of this complexity. So I want to take the opportunity to thank Mr. Curtis Prather, our Director of Communications, for this impressive work.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Tuesday, March 3, 2020

    Lent is a season when we abstain from many of things we think are quite normal. We might decide to observe a twelve-hour fast. And today we will decide to observe a time of silence. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with food or conversation; in fact, both are really good and, most of the time, essential. However, the act of abstinence is an invitation to a balanced life. It is an act of control over an appetite. It is a reminder that our life is not our own, but a gift. And our days should always be focused on God.

    Bonnie Thurston is our Quiet Day speaker. She will provide the bookends to the day with a meditation this morning and a sermon at the Eucharist. We are delighted that she agreed to come. As a New Testament scholar, she has written extensively about the marking of time. And she invites us all to recognize the significance of  time - the time for an experience of God that shapes who we are and how we relate to God.

    We are a graduate school that has outstanding professors and remarkable classes. We are also a place of formation where we seek to provide God with the space to bring human lives to a place where they can authentically lead congregations, whether lay or ordained. Quiet Day is one of those opportunities to do formation work. Do please live into this moment.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President 
    Read More
  • Monday, March 2, 2020

    One need not look any further than the newsfeed on each of our cell phones for daily reminders of how divided and polarized this nation and this world have become. Our church is not exempt from the effects of these divisions. As many of you are aware, earlier this month our Presiding Bishop called on Episcopalians and people of faith everywhere to fast on Wednesday during Lent for the moral and spiritual good of our country and the world.

    Polarity, though, is not limited to the world outside our red doors. Deep divisions continue to plague our denomination internally. As future lay and clergy leaders in our church, I call on our students to seek out ways during our Lenten journeys to reach out in fellowship to people in our church who philosophically, liturgically, and theologically see things differently than we do. One way in which this can be done is through taking opportunities to reach outside the confines of our parish and diocesan walls to interact with the wider church.

    At tonight’s Deanery Event at 7:00 PM, we will be welcoming the Rev. Mark Michael, Editor of The Living Church magazine. The Living Church has requested this opportunity to meet with us because they are working on structuring their strategic vision and would like to hear our thoughts. This biweekly publication, which has been in continuous operation since 1878, is widely read throughout the Episcopal Church. Tonight’s event is a valuable opportunity to connect and to spread the word about the things that matter to you – the ministries that you are involved with and care about, your concerns and thoughts about the future of the church, and the many other considerations that we as a church struggle with. We seldom solve complex problems by remaining in our bubbles. It is through the difficult work of venturing out to engage with others that we will find common ground and solutions.

    There still remain a few available spots for those interested in attending this event. You may register here.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. 
    Dean and President
     
    Read More
  • February

    Friday, February 28

    At Virginia Theological Seminary, we are pleased to maintain the substance of our corporal worship, while encouraging a broad approach to style. We recognize that the aesthetic worlds our seminarians and students bring to VTS enrich our diverse expectations of what “church” looks and sounds like, and we hope they will leave here with an increased awareness of the rich diversity of possibilities available to them. From the guitar-strumming Prayer and Praise Eucharist to the smoky Solemn Evensong, our students are given opportunities to stretch and grow in their approach to worship and to push back against that inner voice of mere preference.

    Of the many expressions of music available to us in our worship, chant was largely recovered for the Episcopal Church with the Hymnal 1982. The restoration of this ancient artform binds us to the Church of our spiritual ancestors, and brings our congregations into a soundscape distinctly divine. This Saturday, the Seminary is hosting a chanting workshop from 2:00-3:00 p.m. in the Choir Room, taught by seminarian, music TA, and retired professional singer Kevin Newell. Seminarians today are encouraged to explore the practice of chant, and this weekend’s workshop will grant the tools necessary to ease apprehension, and promote this highly personal mode of prayer. Each of us has been given a voice, and chant enables us to give it back to God.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Spirituality from a Brazilian Anglican Perspective

    Dr. Joanildo Burity
    For the past few weeks I have had the privilege to visit Virginia Theological Seminary hosted by the Center for Anglican Communion Studies. I have had a great time learning more about the work that is done at the Center. Before my visit, Dr. Robert Heaney told me about this work, but it was wonderful to meet so many new people, including the wonderful Hartley and Molly as well as the students and teaching staff at VTS. Speaking to my background, I am a lay Anglican from Brazil, working as a social scientist. My main areas of interest are religion and politics in Brazil as well as in Latin America more broadly. In this way, this work is both global and local. I was encouraged to think about spirituality so I could share with VTS community folks what that looks like from a Brazilian Anglican perspective. I heeded the call, and I did it the way I am most comfortable with – as a sociologist/political scientist.

    As I dug into some readings, including a piece I did a couple of years back on spiritualities of consumption, resentment and political agonism, I found that theology, pastoral work and the social sciences illumine one another in constructive (if critical) ways. I benefited from VTS’s marvelous library but also from good conversations with people on campus. In delivering my short presentation on the topic of Brazilian Anglican spirituality, I highlighted the curious entanglement that we face today: people are finding it hard to remain active members of organized religion, but when turning to cultivate their own spirituality, they resort to the sources of organized religion (as “traditions” to explore) and they draw, without realizing it, from established religions that are deeply rooted in the wider culture.

    Spirituality today has this quality – more than decades or centuries back – of spreading across other traditions or picking up various aspects of them. This also applies to how faith and politics are experienced. The Anglican Church is very small in Brazil, but it reflects much of our religious-cultural mosaic as well as our current political disarray. Two factors that influence this are the widespread influence of Pentecostalism in all Christian denominations, including the Catholic church (the charismatic movement is basically a middle class variant of Pentecostal spirituality), and the massive cultural legacy of “priestless” Catholic popular religion – centuries of uneven, unplanned and sometimes complicated dialogues between local populations and a Catholic faith learned through devotions, rituals and feasts rather than catechism or regular preaching from authorized, trained clergy.

    Brazilian Anglicanism is also true to its global provenance and participation in a communion of churches representing many cultures and journeys. In particular, Anglican spirituality in Brazil has included a vigorous understanding of life in the Spirit as a call to be guided by the Spirit – as one of our biblical theologians puts it, “wind that hovers over the waters, breath that gives life, breath that resurrects (provides flesh, materiality to dry bones), light breeze that surprises those looking for God in great events or manifestations, tongues of fire, impetuous wind that takes everything out of place, the way a dove lands” (Paulo Ueti, Anglican Diocese of Brasilia and Anglican Alliance staff for Latin America and the Caribbean).
    Read More
  • Thursday, February 27, 2020

    I am proud of our Senior Advisor to the Dean for Evangelism Initiatives at Virginia Theological Seminary. Her little book of guidance called "What Is Evangelism?" is quite simply remarkable. The text is both accessible and deep. It is profound and compelling. It is beautifully written. The theme is simple: evangelism is telling a story. It is not about telling people about which church we attend, but telling others about our experience of God. From evangelism in a dog park to grace in a golf cart, theory and practice come together. And it brings together much of her previous work -- Harry Potter and Star Wars are both present. It is quite brilliant.

    Dr. Patricia M. Lyons is a gift to this Seminary. Through a range of imaginative programs, she is bringing a powerful and creative presence. Her witness to the evangelism imperative is vitally important. This is a Seminary that has lived the words, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel" for two hundred years. Tricia (as she is known to us all) is continuing to keep that message front and center at Seminary.

    Evangelism is fundamental. We remain an evangelical seminary, while transcending the conventional evangelical tribe. Precisely what this distinctive witness looks like, Tricia is sorting out for us. Indeed, one could make the case that she is sorting out this witness for the entire Episcopal Church. Seize every opportunity you get to sit and learn from Tricia. I can promise you they will be life-changing moments.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • VTS announces new book from Professor Patricia Lyons

    Read More
  • Wednesday, February 26, 2020

    Ash Wednesday is upon us. This is the day that remind ourselves of our mortality. This is the day when we think about brokenness. This is the day when we invite God to work upon our lives and bring about healing and hope. It is an important day in the Seminary calendar.

    At 8:30 a.m. there will be a Eucharist in Immanuel Chapel. Students and Faculty are expected to be present. If staff are able to make arrangements with their supervisor, then they are welcome as well. The service will be over by 9:30 a.m. (hopefully 9:20 a.m.).

    It is technically a fast day for Episcopalians. Increasingly people are discovering the rich health benefits of a 12-hour fast (from, for example, 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. -- liquids permitted, but no food). We do it as a reminder of the privilege of eating, an awareness that the pangs of hunger do ache, but most importantly, as a invitation to God to let us trust and depend on God's work in our lives.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Tuesday, February 25, 2020

    It is that time of year again. We are working through the budget discussions. With a Board remit for a 4% draw from the endowment and conscious that our revenue streams in recent years have been overestimated, these budget discussions are tricky. Yesterday Vice President Jacqui Ballou and I met with Academic Administration and Student Life, Contextual Ministry, Lifelong Learning, Trytank, Alumni, Institutional Advancement, Library, and the Center for Anglican Communion Studies. These were difficult meetings. Priorities were discussed. Much loved programs were reduced. It was hard.

    It is puzzling how the budget is so tight yet the campaign is going so well. The difference between the "operating budget" (the reoccurring annual budget of the Seminary that depends on investment income and endowment) and the "capital budget" (the budgets dedicated to the "one-off" expenses such as the renovation of a building) is difficult to understand. The capital campaign is funding the construction and some program endowment; the operating budget needs to be supported by existing annual revenue streams.

    Compared to the overwhelming majority of seminaries, VTS remains very fortunate. Although there will be some things we will do differently in the future, our core work is secure. And one advantage of taking action now to have a sound budget is that we can be confident we will withstand future potential problems. When the bull market finally comes to end, we will be better able to accommodate that challenge. This will be good.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • The Cave of St. Jerome, under the Church of St. Catherine, Bethlehem, where St. Jerome translated the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin between 386-404 AD.

    VTS Announces Two Pilgrimages for 2021

    Read More
  • Monday, February 24, 2020

    Ann Roebuck is retiring this Friday! Remember the “farewell” for Ann on Tuesday, February 25, in the Coffield Refectory, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

    Ann joined VTS on June 20, 2008, after serving 19 years at Christchurch School in Christchurch, Virginia. In the Dean’s Commentary on June 26, 2008, Dean Markham welcomed our new Director of Special Events and Constituent Outreach. He said she would be responsible for “organizing and implementing events for alumni and friends of the Seminary both on campus and around the country.” Dean Markham concluded by saying that “her excellent organizational skills will be an asset in meeting the Seminary’s advancement, outreach and philanthropic objectives.”

    Little did we know how right the Dean would be! Ann has excelled in her faithful ministry at VTS. The Dean’s Roundtables have been successful because of Ann’s “excellent organizational skills.” No detail goes unattended with Ann Roebuck.

    For me, I will always think of the Dean’s Cross when I think of Ann. She made each Advent presentation a truly special event. She got to know each person being honored. She was concerned about everything, from “soup to nuts.”

    The Dean often says that once part of VTS, always part of VTS. That’s our hope for you, Ann. And as you often end your emails with “Take care,” that is what we wish for you, too. 

    The Rev. J. Barney Hawkins IV, Ph.D.
    Co-Director, Bicentennial Campaign
    Read More
  • Friday, February 21, 2020

    Faith speaks through music in many settings, from worship to concert halls to classrooms. This Sunday evening, several members of our VTS community are presenting a recital of music inspired by faith. Just over the past year, soprano Corey Raquel Lovelace has performed around the world, including the ISING! International Opera Festival in China last summer, Opera Carolina in North Carolina in January, and as a featured artist in concert with international operatic star Andrea Bocelli this past weekend. She is married to Logan Lovelace, M.Div. student and junior class president. Pianist Cara Ellen Modisett is a junior M.Div. student at VTS, and much of her professional work before coming to VTS was in church music and collaborative piano. Joining them on the viola for the Vivaldi will be VTS senior Clint Brown, also a vocalist and composer/arranger.

    The program will include music composed by names familiar and less familiar – Mozart, Vivaldi, Leonard Bernstein, Moses Hogan, John Jacob Niles, and Undine Smith Moore. It begins with Mozart’s Alleluia, moving through settings of spirituals and Appalachian hymns, to end with Moore’s “Come Down Angels (Trouble The Water).” You might say the program starts in Epiphany and moves into Lent, with angels at the end.

    The music is eclectic. “Vivaldi’s Gloria is a musical setting of one of the oldest Christian liturgical texts,” Corey says. “Like the Mozart, it is a wonderful example of the vital role music plays in the religious experience. Vivaldi’s music still has the power to move the soul, nearly 400 years later, that is the power of sacred music.” Most of the program is music from the 20th century. Some of it will be familiar from our hymnbooks, including “I Wonder as I Wander” (a mainstay in both Advent and Lent), “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Were You There?” Leonard Bernstein may be most familiar to audiences as the composer of West Side Story, but his works also include a Mass (and you can hear bits of jazz in it). Corey and Cara will perform one piece from that. “‘A Simple Song’ shows yet another facet of our Creator,” says Corey. “This is what links all of these pieces; they are all inspired by the wonder of our Creator.”

    I encourage you to experience this program of sacred music this Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. in Immanuel Chapel. Admission is free, and the program will last no more than an hour.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Thursday, February 20, 2020

    One of the joys of being at Virginia Theological Seminary is the number of rich opportunities available to our community in the Washington D.C. area. We are in close proximity to three dioceses, and students, faculty, and staff can access many formation events offered in the wider community. One of these very special events is this Sunday when Rowan Williams will be speaking at Church of the Ascension and Saint Agnes in Washington D.C. Many of you will know that Rowan was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, and is a renowned Anglican theologian. His conversation on "Incarnation and Passion" will open the Lent 2020 series of the School of Theology and Prayer at Ascension and Saint Agnes.

    The intention of the School of Theology and Prayer is to explore the theological and moral themes in the Christian tradition, including regular workshops on the theology and practice of prayer. Later sessions of the Lenten series will feature Rev. Dr. Nicholas Lombardo (Dominican House of Studies and CUA), VTS’s very own Rev. Dr. Kathy Grieb, and Rev. Professor Sarah Coakley (assisting priest and theologian-in-residence at ASA).

    If you are able to attend Sunday’s event, I commend this opportunity to you. It will be an incredible opportunity to hear from a significant Anglican theologian whose work informs many of our courses at VTS. Afternoon tea will begin at 3:00 p.m., with Rowan’s discussion beginning at 3:30 p.m. For more information, visit the Facebook event page here.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President 
    Read More
  • VTS Raises Money for Capital Campaign with LEGO® Bricks

    Read More
  • Wednesday, February 19, 2020

    Now that the capital campaign is public, one of our goals is to make the "Screen of Recognition" amazing. Every single donor, from $1 up, will be featured on this screen, to be located at the back of the new Addison. Each donor will be invited to include a photograph and a quote. If the donor is a parish, then we'll feature a picture of the church with the Rector and Senior Warden. If it is a bishop, then a picture of the bishop standing outside the diocesan office. We are setting ourselves an ambitious goal. We want a minimum of 25% of parishes and dioceses on our Screen of Recogntion. We want our Bicentennial Screen of Recognition to be a remarkable record of our moment. The world will know the extent of the support of the Seminary. The screen will be interactive. You will be able to explore the screen through geography and relationship to the Seminary.

    So please reach out to Vice President Linda Dienno. Pick up a case statement and a pledge form. Invite your sending parish and your contextual ministry site to be on our Screen of Recognition. Generations in years to come will make their way to this screen and find connection to this moment.

    To promote this reach, the co-chair of the capital campaign, the Rev. Dr. Barney Hawkins, and I are making a trip to New York and then heading to CEEP (the Consortium of Episcopal Endowed Parishes). We are going to collect parishes who want to be connected with the Seminary in this historic moment. This is exciting; it is a moment of extraordinary connection with our church.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Tuesday, February 18, 2020

    Every year VTS nominates several student preachers from the middler class to attend the annual Preaching Excellence Program, which is sponsored by the Episcopal Preaching Foundation (EPF). The EPF’s mission is to foster outstanding preaching in the Episcopal church, and they do this by offering conferences and workshops both for seminarians and for working preachers. One of their signature initiatives is the Preaching Excellence Program, which is an intensive preaching program held every summer for Episcopal seminarians, and also for students in local formation programs. Each year the conference features presentations from distinguished preachers and homileticians. This year the speakers and group leaders include the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Rev. Gary Jones (St. Stephen’s, Richmond); the Right Reverend Laurence Provenzano, and Episcopal Preaching Foundation Board members Charles Cesaretti, Mark Richardson, Stephen Smith, and chairman Gary Shilling.

    In addition to the plenary presentations, much of the time in the program is devoted to workshops on particular aspects of the preaching task, and small group sessions in which students preach and listen to other student preachers. One of the greatest benefits of the conference is an opportunity to get to know students from other Episcopal seminaries, and to find common ground amidst diversity, in a common commitment to the importance of the preaching task.


    This year, we are delighted to announce that the students attending the conference from VTS are Sarah Cowan, Susan Gage, Meg Goldstein, Hailey Jacobsen, Joshua Paget, and Lydia Simmons.

    The Rev. Ruthanna Hooke, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of Homiletics
    Associate Dean of Chapel
    Read More
  • VTS Announces "Virginia Seminary in the Communion: 1823–2023"

    Read More
  • Friday, February 14, 2020

    Today we welcome 22 prospective students—many with spouses and children—to VTS’s annual Spring Visit Weekend (although we realize the weather seems more wintry this year than spring-like). Students, faculty, and staff have all worked hard to put together a program of events that will allow our visitors experience what it is like to live and study on the Holy Hill. Some visitors are already admitted students, while others are in the application process or discerning if they might wish to apply. To everyone, we wish a very warm welcome!

    The weekend officially kicks off this afternoon with sample classes taught by Judy Fentress-Williams and Ian Markham, followed at 5 p.m. by an introduction to worship at VTS led by Ruthanna Hooke and an Evensong service with Schola. Dinner will take place in faculty homes, and all participants will then come together for fellowship and dessert in Scott Lounge at 8 p.m. All are welcome to attend the Dessert Reception, so we hope to see everyone there!

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who served as co-chairs for their respective classes in planning this special event: Emily Collette, Joshua Barrett, Dillon Green, Katie Beaver, Amanda Dosher, and William Yagel. A big thanks also to the faculty who have generously offered to host dinners in their homes and those who are participating by teaching classes, serving on panels, and interviewing prospective students.

    Please be sure to wear your nametags and greet/assist any visitors you might see around campus!

    Derek Greten-Harrison
    Director of Admissions and Financial Aid
    Read More
  • Thursday, February 13, 2020

    In 2015, Brian Baker went from General Convention, where he co-chaired the Special Committee on Marriage, to West Point, his alma mater, to visit his son who was just beginning his time as a cadet, and then to his first experience of Burning Man. His hippie, young-adult daughter had invited him to join her in her world. Burning Man seeks to bring experiences to people in grand, awe-inspiring and joyful ways that lift the human spirit, address social problems, and inspire a sense of culture, community, and civic engagement.

    Brian was struck by the generosity, openness, and non-judgment he encountered at this artistic, playful temporary community centered around principles such as radical inclusion, gift-giving, decommodification, and participation. With lots of dancing and partying, and a dizzying array of activities all offered for free by over 1400 themed camps, Burning Man is wild. And holy. While most people may go for the partying and play, they are also there, enduring the harsh environment, expecting something to happen that will transform them.

    Brian discovered the kind of community he had been trying to create in the Church. And he encountered a deep spiritual hunger from people who were eager to engage him as a priest. In 2016, a group of Episcopalians held a Eucharist at the Temple. When it was over, multiple guests asked expectantly, “Are you doing this every day?” That was the genesis of an explicitly Christian themed camp that offers daily Morning Prayer, Temple services, blessings, and conversation.

    After 28 years deeply involved in the institutional church, including 12 years as a cathedral dean, deputy to 5 General Conventions, and serving on the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, Brian is serving as the priest-in-charge of a small rural church in Kentucky and focusing much of his efforts exploring ministry with the global Burning Man community. I welcome Brian to VTS and urge you all to sign up and join us tonight at the Deanery at 7:00 p.m. for coffee, desserts, and an interesting conversation about a new way to bring God to the world.
     
    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Wednesday, February 12, 2020

    Our Board of Trustees is in town. Last night they gathered to bless the new spaces in the Refectory and to launch the Bicentennial Capital Campaign. Thanks to the hard work of Ann Roebuck, the spaces were ready and prepared. The food was lovely and the setting was perfect.

    We also announced our Lego building project. The goal is to raise $120,000, through the purchase (or sponsoring) of individual bricks. I was grateful to Beowulf Rutherford, son of semiarian Timothy Rutherford ('22), who helped me construct a key part of the Aspinwall grounds. It is complicated -- you have to get the Lego pieces exactly right. It was fun. Our plan is to build Aspinwall Hall, Meade, and Bohlen. We are honoring those who did the work originally. It is an important remembrance of their achievement.

    Today we have the Board meeting. The Board will receive reports from the key committees. The news is good. The capital campaign is going well; the construction is going well; and the program is developing well. I am grateful to all those who are making this possible.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Tuesday, February 11, 2020

    VTS has long supported the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. It’s part of our Christian witness in the world. Recently, TryTank, the experimental lab that is our partnership with General Seminary, wanted to try an experiment in using the power of video to advance social justice causes. It seemed like a natural fit with the work of the Virginia Interfaith Center. The end result is a video supporting a bill to have paid sick days here in Virginia. And what a powerful video of one person’s story it is. You can see it here.
     
    Since it is an experiment, it will be A/B tested with the 25,000 subscribers of the Virginia Interfaith Center’s “action alert” email list. Half will get the video and half will get a regular email asking them to take action. Then we can track the impact of the video.

    Best of all, while a video like this would have normally cost over $10,000 to make, it was made for less than a quarter of that. And that’s what the experiment is about. If it does indeed make a difference in the legislation, we will have figured a way to advance social justice causes using video for a fraction of the normal cost. And that could make a big difference

    I encourage you to watch the video, and if you live in Virginia, to take action. Likewise, if you have friends in Virginia, please share it with them.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
     
    Read More
  • VTS to Dedicate Renovated Refectory During Capital Campaign Public Launch

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

    ALEXANDRIA, VA – This evening Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) will dedicate the renovated refectory in memory of Texas donor and parishioner during public launch of Capital Campaign.
     
    To solidify the 140-year partnership between the Diocese of Texas and the Virginia Theological Seminary, the Episcopal Foundation of Texas awarded the Seminary a $1 million-dollar gift which will help fund the renovation of their refectory—providing a contemporary and hospitable space for dining and social interaction for staff and students.
     
    The refectory has been named in honor of H.H. “Pete” Coffield, who died in 1979, and left one-third of his estate to the Diocese of Texas. This helped fund the Episcopal Foundation of Texas as well as other foundations. The renovated refectory opened February 2, 2020.
     
    “The Seminary is excited to preserve the legacy of H.H. “Pete” Coffield, a parishioner of St. Thomas, Rockdale, Texas, whose life's work has enriched so many people,” said Ian Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary. “By honoring his memory with the naming of one of the most important and cherished buildings on campus, VTS deepens our commitment with the Diocese of Texas and honors lay ministry.”
     
    Since 1879, hundreds of students from the diocese have graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary. Currently over 110 alumni are serving in the Diocese of Texas.
     
    “The Episcopal Diocese of Texas has benefited from strong clergy leadership from Virginia Seminary since its founding, yet we have never made a gift beyond our annual fund support. It is with great pleasure that just as Texas’ future has been blessed by Virginia Seminary’s formation today, we can give back and join with others to help ensure quality facilities well into the future,” said the Rt. Rev. Andy Doyle, bishop of Texas (pictured with Dean Markham).
     
    Built in 1950, the refectory is one of the cornerstones for the VTS ethos of "Chapel, Class, and Lunch." According to Markham, conversing while eating is the beginning of a table fellowship and is as important as residential formation, academics, and worship.
     
    “Lunch matters because this is the place of table fellowship, where deep friendships are formed, and lives are shaped by the agency of the Holy Spirit through community,” added Markham.
     
    The space will host VTS’s public phase of the Capital Campaign Kick-off event this evening, February 11, 2020.


    ###
    Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary has led the way in forming leaders of The Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those being ordained who received residential theological education. Visit us online at www.vts.edu.


    Read More
  • Monday, February 10, 2020

    This is the start of a busy and complicated week. We have the Board of Trustees gathering on the campus. We have the launch of the Bicentennial Campaign. We have the formal opening of Coffield Refectory. We have the announcement of the Lego fund raiser (we are hoping to raise $120,000 - thanks to the match). 

    This is also the Monday after a full weekend. Many students made the journey to be with Valerie Mayo at the funeral of her loved ones. We continue to pray for Valerie. Dr. Mark Jefferson, on Sunday, preached in the historic pulpit of the Washington National Cathedral. And I was in Louisville, Kentucky at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church as their Dimensions of Faith Lecturer. I was hosted by the Rev. Kelly Kirby and the Rev. Benjamin Hart (class of 2015). The topic they had asked me to address was "Reparations and the Seminary." These are just illustrations: I am sure that there are many other moments of significance in the lives of other faculty, staff, and students that occurred this weekend.

    All human lives need the occasional pause. For many of us, we are conscious that we are moving from a full weekend to a full week. So let us acknowledge this dynamic, and as we interact with each other, do so knowing that we have not had space to pause. This is all part of learning to live in community: it the art of sensitive mutual consideration. May God help us learn this skill.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President




    Read More
  • Friday, February 7, 2020

    On Sunday, February 9 at 3:00 p.m. in the Washington National Cathedral’s Perry Auditorium, Associate Professor of Christian Mission and Center for Anglican Communion Studies (CACS) Director Robert Heaney will moderate “Finding Promise Amid Division,” a panel discussion based on The Promise of Anglicanism, a recent book by Dr. Heaney and the Rev. Dr. William Sachs.
     
    Amid their own challenges, Episcopalians and the wider Anglican world are finding fresh promise despite genuine division. In addition to Heaney and Sachs, Sunday’s panel will include: 
    • Dr. Joanildo Burity – Senior Researcher, Professor and Coordinator of the Professional Master's in Sociology at the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife, Brazil 
    • Canon Sarah Snyder – Archbishop of Canterbury’s Special Adviser for Reconciliation and Founding Director, Rose Castle Foundation, Cumbria, United Kingdom 
    • Dr. Wanjiru Gitau – Senior Research Scholar and Co-Director, Spirituality, Pluralism, and Progress Project, St. Thomas University, Florida 
     
    Both Dr. Burity and Canon Snyder are currently visiting VTS; Dr. Burity as a CACS Communion Sabbatical guest, and Canon Snyder as a Dean’s Scholar. Rev. Dr. Sachs is Senior Research Fellow with CACS, and Dr. Gitau is CACS Fellow for International Ecumenism. By attracting such scholars and convening conversations on how Anglicans and Episcopalians can find promise and new energy amidst our divisions, our Center for Anglican Communion Studies is living into their stated goal of “promoting and practicing better community for the Communion.”  
     
    I am especially pleased that they are partnering with the Washington National Cathedral to host this event, thus inviting an even wider audience into the conversation. Please do make time on Sunday afternoon for this special event.  

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President 
    Read More
  • Thursday, February 6, 2020

    Everyone who has spoken to me about the newly renovated Coffield Refectory, Scott Lounge, and Cafe 1823 has been so positive. I have had many conversations and emails about it. This one from Allen Gaye was lovely. He wrote: "Epiphany greetings and my thanks and appreciation to you, the faculty, and the VTS Staff for such a magnificent refectory that represents the VTS culture and symbol of reflection. Such a massive development in time gives us options on the varieties of meals and an arena to enjoy the weekends and engage others." I am glad, Allen, that you are enjoying the new refectory.

    As we live into the space, I do hope we will learn to take care of it. If you spill something or drop something, then please clear it up. Pick up your trash; clear up you games; leave all the spaces as you found them. It is a temptation to imagine that "someone can clear up after me." But it is kinder and more appropriate to do the clearing up ourselves.

    I love going to lunch in the Refectory. I am glad you do, too. Let us continue to keep these places lovely, so that future users will get as much pleasure out of the space as we do.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Wednesday, February 5, 2020

    As the Spring term begins, it’s a good time to remember that learning at VTS extends beyond our Masters and Doctoral classes. Our Lifelong Learning Department offers a wide variety of programs open to all learners, within and outside our VTS community. Students in these programs include seminarians, staff, spouses, and lifelong learners from all over the DC area, bringing together a rich mix of experiences and backgrounds to the classroom.

    I am especially grateful to the eleven members of our faculty and staff who are sharing their time and passions through our Lifelong Learning offerings. You will find them teaching on topics such as preaching, adult formation, evangelism, church administration, family systems, and discernment. These programs are offered in a variety of contexts, including evening classes and conversations, Saturday workshops and trainings, and online courses and webinars.

    Take advantage of these “extracurricular” offerings, as they are great opportunities for learning without the added pressure we associate with grading. And remember that most of these offerings are free for VTS faculty, staff, students, and spouses. To learn more about VTS events and programs offered on campus or online, visit our VTS Eventbrite page (for webinars, click here). To stay informed about future offerings, sign up for Lifelong Learning monthly newsletters here.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph. D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Tuesday, February 4, 2020

    We are pleased to welcome to campus Dr. Joanildo Burity from Brazil as part of the Center for Anglican Communion Studies’ Sabbatical program. Dr. Burity is the Senior Researcher, Professor and Coordinator of the Professional Master's in Sociology at the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation.
     
    He is a committed Anglican, having served as a provincial representative to the Anglican Consultative Council and as a member of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. Dr. Burity will be visiting VTS until February 26.
     
    On Sunday, February 9, Dr. Burity will join CACS Director Robert Heaney, CACS Senior Research Fellow William Sachs, CACS Fellow Wanjiru Gitau, and Canon Sarah Snyder (Lambeth Palace, Rose Castle Foundation) for “Finding Promise Amid Division,” a panel conversation at Washington National Cathedral about Dr. Heaney and Dr. Sachs’s recent book, The Promise of Anglicanism (SCM 2019).
     
    The CACS Communion Sabbaticals program allows guests from the Anglican Communion to visit VTS for an extended stay of 2-4 weeks. I am delighted to welcome Dr. Burity to campus in this capacity. Please make him feel welcome when you meet him on campus, and please do consider attending the event at the National Cathedral. You can sign up via Eventbrite.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President 
    Read More
  • Monday February 3, 2020

    The VTS mantra "class, chapel, lunch" has real meaning. We study together; we worship together; and we take table fellowship together. In respect to chapel and lunch, there are some changes that I wish to share.

    Participating in an act of corporate worship is important. For all those - lay and ordained - who believe that God is calling to them to congregational leadership, chapel is the setting in which we anticipate that future. When we lead, we will want to encourage a habit; to encourage a habit, we need to learn the habit. And it is so good when the people of God experience the energy of corporate worship. Our faculty, at their retreat, did determine that participating in the act of corporate worship can be any service - Morning Prayer, Eucharist, Evening Prayer, or Compline (when that happens in the Flamingo). We are hoping that we learn the discipline in a way that works with our other commitments.

    Lunch is important because it is the venue where we eat with others in the community. Learning to read the room is an important skill. As you collect your meal, look around. Search for the table where someone is sitting alone. Find the table where there are people you do not know. And of course this now all happens in the new Coffield Refectory. It looks beautiful. We are excited as we make our journey back into the Refectory.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • January

    Friday, January 31, 2019

    On Monday, February 3rd, we return to what we will now call the Coffield Refectory for our community meals. It is a blessing to have a brilliant team to ensure this renovation project is completed and ready for service. The newly renovated kitchen is furnished with new equipment and servery. The main dining room is elevated with new flooring, rendering, and furniture. And Scott Lounge is enhanced with new furniture that will allow our community to study, pray, and gather.

    Many will recall the challenges we faced during the temporary closure of the refectory. During this time, meals were relocated in spaces like the Flamingo, the Welcome Center, and the tent. Other locations like the Goodwin Board Room, Bohlen, and the Hub were also used.

    I am truly grateful for your patience during this renovation period, as I have longed for your laughter and conversation during mealtime. The pressure is now lifted and we shall gather in the Coffield Refectory at 11:30 a.m. on Monday for lunch. I am looking forward to seeing you there.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Thursday, January 30, 2020

    We have all heard of the coronavirus. As of Tuesday, 5,997 cases have been reported in China, with an additional 68 cases around the world. There have been 132 deaths thus far.

    Every community should pause when these potential pandemics emerge. We should not overreact; it remains true that driving around the Beltway is more dangerous than the coronavirus. We should also not be complacent. Keeping an eye on our health is appropriate. Going to the doctor when certain symptoms occur makes sense. Taking precautions in this flu season is wise. Frequently washing your hands for twenty seconds is wise, as is using hand sanitizer. Normal healthy routines should be sufficient, even with coronavirus.

    Even so, these moments are a reminder:  Life is fragile. Every day is a gift. And sadly, it can all change so suddenly. Never presume that one will grow old. Live fully in the moments that God gives you. And thank God daily for the gift of another day.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Wednesday, January 29, 2020

    Yesterday, we gathered for our Quarterly Staff Meeting. It was not a typical meeting. After an appropriate process, I shared our plans for a Seminary reorganization. We needed to trim our expenses by 8% or so. We were committed to no layoffs, so this meant that we had to find alternatives. Ultimately, we decided to reduce the size of the Seminary by sixteen positions through a combination of leaving vacancies open, merging some positions as a result of the Early Retirement Incentive Program, and not renewing contracts. This, along with reducing the non-salary lines by approximately 12%, will get us there. 

    The news was hard. Naturally, there will be questions and comments over the next few weeks. This is right and proper. We will be working with each department to develop position descriptions for the new structure. Supervisory arrangements will need clarification. There is much to do.

    Many who opted into the Early Retirement Incentive Program have chosen to leave at the end of December 2020. So this will be the year of the "long goodbye." Without exception, all those who are in this program have been remarkable servants of the Seminary. They have been faithful and effective. They have seen significant change; they have been part of the success of the Seminary over these years. I honor their contribution today. I am grateful for them. And I invite them into a journey of reflection with the Seminary as we seek to get the new structure right for the future.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Tuesday, January 28, 2020

    Starting on Sunday night, all day Monday, and continuing this morning, the Faculty have been on retreat. We have met primarily at Episcopal High School. It was a good venue for deep and serious conversation. The issues ranged widely. We reviewed the MA degree; we discussed "Core Values;" and we shared laughter and collegiality.

    The whole occasion was framed in worship. It started with an Eucharist on Sunday night; and it continued with an abridged Daily Office on Monday. We are very conscious that our work is the work of eternity. We want God to be in our deliberations and conversations.

    We have an impressive Faculty. Around the table, there were many distinguished scholars who are committed to theological education. This is a Faculty that is published; it is a Faculty that attracts multi-million Lilly grants; it is a Faculty that chooses to be at VTS because they believe in the mission of VTS. For their presence, I am deeply grateful.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Monday, January 27, 2020

    Professional Development is a priority at VTS. Last Wednesday, Cassandra Gravina, Margarita Pelaez-King, Molly O'Brien, and Veena Khanna attended a conference called HigHer. This conference, provided by Wisr was an all-day program for professional development designed to empower women in higher education.
     
    The conference was divided into three main sections: Reflection, Inspiration, and Action. Our staff members were surrounded by different types of women from various backgrounds and roles. Reflection allowed for sharing stories with each other and conversation on the definition of success. Inspiration was provided by three women from prominent institutions: Dr. Adanna J. Johnson, Associate Vice President for Student Equity and Inclusion at Georgetown University; Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, Dean, School of Education at American University; and Donna Harper, Vice President for Access and Enrollment Management at James Madison University. These women shared insights on how to thrive in a career in higher education and uplift other women along the way. The last section, Action, encouraged attendess to take what they had learned to share with other women in the workplace.
     
    This was a good example of staff members seeking professional development. The program was good; and it has enabled them to expand their networks and be more reflective on their work.  I encourage others to seek out programs and create the space in their lives to participate in these kinds of programs. It is important; it is both good for the employee and good for the Seminary. 

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Friday, January 24, 2020

    On January 15, 2020, The Christian Century chose, as their cover, the image of our very own William Meade Professor in Systematic Theology. The Rev. Dr. Kate Sonderegger had been honored with an interview inside the issue and had pride of place on the cover. For mainline Christianity, The Christian Century is our magazine. To be honored on the cover is the equivalent of being honored on Time magazine. 

    Kate is being honored because her work in Systematic Theology is extraordinary. There is a depth to her writing. She has lived with these theologians, intimately, for decades. She knows their strengths and their weaknesses. She has embraced the complexity of doctrine. She has formed her own views, which are a result of a lifetime of deep reflection.

    Kate's achievement is that her writing is both rigorously academic and yet highly devotional. The reader is invited to embark on a journey of love, where you seek to speak of the God who loves us. There is a deep reverence in the text: nothing is glib; this is holy work. Her legacy is now in print: she is offering to the future a text that will become a classic. It is an honor to have Kate as a colleague. Along with The Christian Century, we marvel at her achievements.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • When Churches in Communion Disagree

    Jean Cotting
    One need not delve very deeply into church history or the current state of affairs of the church to recognize that throughout the ages it has been fraught with contestation. With Lambeth 2020 looming on the horizon, the question of how such disparate churches will be able to remain in full communion with one another becomes more pressing with every passing day. On January 13 and 14, 2020 a group of thirty bishops, church leaders, and scholars met at the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) for a consultation on the theme “When Churches in Communion Disagree.” It was hosted by the VTS Center for Anglican Communion Studies and co-sponsored by the Dioceses of Texas and Dallas, the House of Bishops Ecclesiology Committee, and the Living Church Institute. For two days participants came together to listen, reflect, and enter into deep dialogue about the problem of Communion disunity. Papers presented approached issues from several angles: biblically, historically, theologically, ecumenically, cross-culturally, and ecclesiologically. Much of the time was spent in dialogue and fellowship – sharing stories and meals, reflecting on the papers presented, and above all, listening to one another. The group spent time in prayer together; participants joined with the VTS community for Holy Eucharist and the Daily Office.

    The response to the consultation was overwhelmingly positive. One of the main accomplishments was identifying and articulating our difficulties in how we address the problems facing the Communion. As Dr. Michael Tessman of Nashotah House (retired) stated, “For too long, polarization has infected our universe of discourse. In this gathering there was a generous harmonization of ‘party lines’ rather than the dissonance all too common in recent decades.” Rev. Canon Jordan Hylden of the Diocese of Dallas concurred, “Too often, I think, we pursue goals separately in various parties, and politically rather than theologically.” Through the ongoing dialogue of the consultation, participants found a sense of direction along which future paths of reconciliation might occur. In the words of Jeremy Worthen, Secretary for Ecumenical Relations of the Church of England, “What struck me about our gathering was the way we were practising what we were talking about – ‘bearing’ deep disagreements in the life of the church without either minimising their significance or avoiding them by keeping our distance from one another.” Similarly, Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Canada, stated,“The consultation brought some perspectives and possibilities that were unexpected and welcome. Perhaps we need to talk more and these things will emerge. Perhaps, we must look for God’s voice and purposes in our present situation.” Bishop Cathleen Bascom of Kansas found the sessions instructive, “I heard in papers how the World Wars motivated past Christians to pursue unity, and it is my opinion that Creation Care issues like clean water, rising water, polluted water… must move us toward unity on areas of lesser disagreement. I think that I will arrive at Lambeth more aware of the intricacies that make up the fabric – and possible fraying – of our Communion.” Bishop Joseph Wandera of the Diocese of Mumias was also optimistic, “For me, this was a profoundly edifying experience, meeting with many brothers and sisters from the Anglican family, to pray, reflect and eat together. I go back to Kenya with a new sense of belongingness to the Anglican family and look forward to strengthening friendships made during the Lambeth conference, this coming summer.”

    As a VTS student in my final year of seminary and one about to be ordained, I left these two days with a profound sense of optimism about our church. It was uplifting to witness such a diverse group of our leaders, with all their highly varied positions on ecclesiology and moral theology, come together in thoughtful conversation to tackle difficult issues with such honesty and humility. I found it to be a Pentecost-like experience in which I believe the movement of the Spirit was apparent. The work that lies ahead of the Communion leadership in healing rifts will be long, challenging, and difficult, but this conference deepened my faith, hope, and courage in the ability of the Body of Christ to endure, overcome, and thrive.
    Read More
  • New Challenge Grants to Support Bishop Payne Library Renovations

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

    ALEXANDRIA, VA – Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) announced today that it has been awarded two challenge grants that aim to inspire additional giving in support of the Bishop Payne Library’s renovations as part of its Bicentennial Campaign, which marks the Seminary’s 200th in 2023. Thanks to the generosity of The Cabell Foundation and The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, VTS has the opportunity to unlock $500,000 by raising $1,000,000 in support of the Library’s renovations. The Bishop Payne Library’s renovations are a hallmark of the Bicentennial Campaign’s comprehensive focus on both capital and programmatic priorities, which include endowing scholarships, expanding continuing education, empowering faculty, investing in outreach, and seeking new ways to invigorate the Church, in addition to funding campus improvements.

    The Cabell Foundation will give $300,000 and The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation will give $200,000 to match gifts to support substantial upgrades to the Bishop Payne Library.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of VTS, explained the significance of these two grants, saying, “By making these challenge grants, The Cabell Foundation and The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation acknowledge an important truth: God calls us to accomplish together that which we would never be able to do alone. At VTS, gifts of every size matter; Bicentennial Campaign gifts will come together to empower our third century of service to Christ. We are most grateful for this generous support.”

    The Rev. J. Barney Hawkins IV, Ph.D., co-director of the Bicentennial Campaign, shared, “The Seminary has a long history of support from the Cabell Foundation and the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation. Their encouragement has made quite a difference in the Seminary’s ministry and mission.”

    The challenge grants will be made available when the Seminary has raised two dollars for every one dollar pledged by each foundation. The Seminary is calling on donors to unlock the potential offered by the two foundations by helping VTS raise the $1,000,000 required.

    Linda Dienno, vice president for institutional advancement, elaborated, “This is a marvelous opportunity for friends of VTS and The Episcopal Church who want to ensure that their gift of any size will have a great impact. We are excited to engage with donors and recognize their generosity in a permanent on-campus display. Each donor will find his or her name on an interactive, international wall in the newly renovated Addison Academic Center.”

    For more information about Virginia Theological Seminary or the comprehensive Bicentennial Campaign, contact the Rev. J. Barney Hawkins IV, Ph.D., at bhawkins@vts.edu.

    ###
    Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary has led the way in forming leaders of The Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those being ordained who received residential theological education. Visit us online at www.vts.edu.
    Read More
  • Thursday, January 23, 2020

    The idea is neat. Instead of countless small conferences, why not just hold one large one? We all reduce our carbon footprint (fewer flights to fewer conferences); we have a deeper synergy between the different organizations; and we can bring in a better range of guests. So we have "Rooted In Jesus," which runs from January 21-24. Over a thousand participants are present at this major conference.

    Naturally, Virginia Theological Seminary is well represented. Dr. Lisa Kimball and the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija are both featured speakers. We have a VTS "stage" at the conference. Along with some students and plenty of alums, Derek Greten-Harrison is making connections for recruitment purposes. This is good and exciting.

    I am grateful for those who are making this journey. They are not simply representing the Seminary, but serving the Church. Traveling in January can be hard. So we pray for smooth flights; and we are grateful for their work.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Wednesday, January 22, 2020

    The brand new VTS Journal 2018-2019 is now available. With a superb drone view of the campus on the cover, the Journal captures all the key moments of the academic year. This is where certain lectures and key sermons are published. It is an impressive list: Senator George Mitchell, Most Rev. Suheil Dawani, the Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas, Bishop Carlye Hughes, the Rev. Fleming Rutledge, and Bishop Sean Rowe. We also feature some contributions by our own, including  Dr. Lisa Kimball's "The Gospel of Formation," the Rev. Dr. Judy Fentress-William's MLK Commemoration Lecture, the Rev. Dr. Bob Prichard's Quiet Day Meditations, and the Rev. Dr. Barney Hawkins' Bowers Lecture on "Preaching as Pastoral Presence." These are texts which are worth revisiting and rereading. These are texts that need to be preseved for the record.

    The editors worked together to produce this important volume. Dorothy Pearson and Curtis Prather did the hard work. The result is a polished, impressive, well-organized and elegant book. On behalf of the Seminary community, thank you.

    Anyone can order a copy of the Journal from Amazon. But any member of the community can go to the Communications Department and pick up a free copy. This arrangement means that national distribution is made possible by Amazon, while the community can just collect a copy if they wish. This will be the first of many issues.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Introducing the VTS Reparations Research Team

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

    ALEXANDRIA, VA –  Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) announced on September 5, 2019 that it would begin a reparations program targeted specifically towards descendants of enslaved persons who worked on the campus and of African Americans who were employed by the seminary during the Jim Crow era. VTS has put together a reparations research team to locate descendants of those who worked at the Seminary from 1827 to 1951. In the fall of 2019, three professional genealogists were added to the team: Char McCargo Bah, Nathania (Nay) Branch-Miles, and Elizabeth Drembus.
     
    Bah is a native Alexandrian who worked on the Alexandria Freedmen Cemetery Project and who is working on the Ramsay Homes’ Descendant Project. Branch-Miles who worked on several projects in Prince George’s County, MD. Both are members of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS), and they are chapter members of Prince George’s AAHGS. In addition to conducting archival research with the aim of documenting descendants’ connections to VTS, they will be reaching out to descendants in order to research their families’ records and oral traditions regarding their ancestors’ experiences at the Seminary. 

    Drembus is a genealogist for the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, with an interest in African American lineages and genealogical resources. Prior to working for the DAR, Elizabeth worked at George Washington's Mount Vernon. She has also been involved in local history research projects focusing on antebellum African American land ownership in Fairfax County and was a member of the Fort Ward Working Group. With the VTS reparations research, Drembus’s focus is on finding the names of enslaved persons who worked on the campus.

    The Rev. Joseph D. Thompson, Jr., Ph.D. '18, director of Multicultural Ministries at VTS, whose office administers the program said, “Virginia Theological Seminary is honored to collaborate with professionals of this caliber. Right away, they began uncovering information that is new to us. We look forward to many more important discoveries in the future.”

    For more information, please visit here..

    ####

    ABOUT VTS
    Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those ordained who received residential theological education. Visit Virginia Seminary online at www.vts.edu.
    Read More
  • Tuesday, January 21, 2020

    I do marvel at our talented staff. I might know something about writing books and lecturing in theology and ethics, but I know nothing about the challenge of installing a new furnace, air conditioning system, and water heater. Yet on our campus, these are vitally important skills that require training and expertise, helped with some good "on the job" experience. So today I want to celebrate the work of Mohamed H. Mohamed, our Maintenance III Technician.

    Before Christmas, Vice President Linda Dienno moved on to the campus. Her house needed a new furnace, air conditioning system, and water heater, which Mohamed installed. This month, Mohamed also installed a new furnace and water heater in house #57, which is being prepared for Dr. Liz DeGaynor. This is important and skilled work. Mohamed does not draw attention to his achievements; yet this is complex work which needs to be done right. We are grateful to Mohamed for everything that he does.

    Keeping VTS going depends on many people like Mohamed. It is worth pausing on this day and honoring their contribution. If you find yourself walking past the Facilities complex, perhaps heading to the Butterfly House or to the Flamingo, please take a moment and pop into the Facilities building. Do find Mohamed and say thank you.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. 
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Friday, January 17, 2020

    The Seminary will close for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 20. It is an appropriate pause in the year to remember the sacrifice of a man who gave his life for civil rights. It is worth remembering that the creation of this federal holiday was itself a struggle. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, but it was not until 1983 that the legislation was passed, with the first observation being 1986. But even then, national recognition took many more years.

    It is worth pausing over this long weekend to reflect on the journey that King started and that we must continue. We are country that lives with the legacy of racism. In recent years, white supremacist groups have become much more visible. And in countless ways, African Americans and other persons of color have to handle inappropriate assumptions, bias, and explicit racism.

    The Seminary recognizes that we have much work to do. We need to face up to a past where much of the labor on this campus was provided by enslaved persons and those who were subject to segregation. When the Seminary admitted African Americans in the 1950s, it was a difficult place to be. And as we listen to African Americans and students of color today, we discover that life at the Seminary can still be brutal and hard. So I will be spending much of this weekend thinking about how we can change the present to make sure that the future is different. I invite you to join me.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Thursday, January 16, 2020

    As campus renovations continue, the next space to be addressed is the library. Designs are underway; we are within budget; so the plan is to start work in the summer.

    Naturally, we will need a “library in exile.” Vice President Knowles speaks movingly about the way the exile can be a season of renewal and growth. Under the exceptional leadership of Dr. Mitzi Budde, we are confident that we can provide a good library service that covers all the courses being offered during the next academic year. The library staff members are ready to make this happen.

    In terms of spaces for the library, our choices are limited. So after a careful evaluation of the options, we will be moving the library into the Welcome Center. Naturally, this has implications for the current work of the Welcome Center. So watch this space for more news.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Wednesday, January 15, 2020

    When a conference comes to town, there is much to do. From the organization of the conference itself, to AV, to meals, to room set up, to reception in the Welcome Center, to housekeeping, there are many people who ensure that a visit goes well. And one of the most important teams finds that as the conference ends, they still have much to do.
     
    The remarkable team in Housekeeping is responsible for cleaning the rooms, preparing them for the next guests, and ensuring that everything is tidy and in its place. Typically, with a conference, there can be literally twenty rooms needing this attention.

    So today we honor them: A big thank you to Cristina Hurtado, Head Housekeeper; Teresa Canales, Housekeeper; and Ana Portillo, Housekeeper. I know the conference participants were grateful -- and we are grateful for all your hard work.
     
    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. 
    Dean and President
     
    Read More
  • Bishops and Theologians Gather Seeking Resources for Good Disagreement

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

    Alexandria, VA - Virginia Theological Seminary’s Center for Anglican Communion Studies concludes a consultation today on theological resources to address disagreements within the Anglican Communion.

    Thirty bishops, church leaders, and scholars gathered to address the question of what course to take when provinces of the Communion disagree on doctrine.
     
    The Rev Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of VTS, welcomed the group saying “serious theological work on the nature of the Church and the Communion is urgent in these days. I am delighted that our Center for Anglican Communion Studies is hosting such a distinguished group of scholars capable of imagining a fruitful future for our tradition.”
     
    The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon ‘85, Resigned Bishop-in-Charge for the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, and chair of the House of Bishops Ecclesiology Committee, commented “The question grew out of essays by the Committee: since Anglicans rule our churches by synod, how can conflicting doctrinal and moral decisions be addressed theologically? We were blessed to have a rich conversation around several brilliant scholars’ presentations. I am heartened by the results, and grateful to all those who made this seminal event possible.”
     
    Presenters included bishops and leaders from the Anglican Church of Kenya, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church of England, Lambeth Palace, the US Episcopal Church, and leading scholars from VTS, Trinity School for Ministry, and the Living Church Institute.
     
    Papers from the meeting will be published by Wipf and Stock prior to the July 2020 meeting of Anglican Communion Bishops and their spouses at the Lambeth Conference.
     
    “When Churches in Communion Disagree: A Consultation” was co-sponsored by The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, The Episcopal Diocese of Texas, The Episcopal Church House of Bishops Ecclesiology Committee, The Living Church Institute and the Virginia Theological Seminary Center for Anglican Communion Studies.

    ####

    ABOUT VTS
    Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those ordained who received residential theological education. Visit Virginia Seminary online at www.vts.edu.
    Read More
  • Tuesday, January 14, 2020

    January is one of my favorite times at VTS for a myriad of reasons: the campus looks so elegant in the snow, we have lots of visitors and prospective students, and everybody feels refreshed after the winter break. It’s also time for the annual Doctoral Writing Retreat!

    The second full week of January, doctoral students in the thesis-writing phase of their education return to campus for four days to have dedicated time to work on their thesis, read, pray, and reconnect with each other. Their time here is facilitated by the hard work of many VTS faculty and staff. Sharon Heaney and Beth Friend have put together an excellent schedule that expertly balances our students' need for both focused writing time and fellowship. Jeff Harre, Taryn Habberly, and Vannessa McCormick have coordinated their on-campus stay, so students know they’ll have a comfortable place to rest and good food while they’re here. Mitzi Budde is leading a refresher session on library research methods, and many faculty members will be taking an hour or two to meet with those students whose theses they supervise.

    It really is a huge community effort to pull together an event like this, and we are very grateful. Thank you, everyone!

    Mara Sherman
    Administrative Coordinator, Doctoral Programs
    Read More
  • Monday, January 13, 2020

    Today and tomorrow we host an important conversation. “When Churches in Communion Disagree” is a consultation organized by our Center for Anglican Communion Studies in partnership with the Dioceses of Dallas and Texas, the House of Bishops Ecclesiology Committee, and the Living Church Institute. The consultation brings together bishops and scholars from the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion. The consultation will explore visions of the Church and practices for common witness amidst difference and conflict. Virginia Seminary exists to serve the Church and I am delighted that, once more, important conversations and deepening relationships are being forged on the holy hill.

    This consultation is open only to invited guests but the participants will join the wider seminary community at the 5:15 p.m. Eucharist tonight. The Rt. Rev. Andrew Doyle, Bishop of the Diocese of Texas, will preach, and the Rt. Rev. Susan Goff, Bishop Suffragan and Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of Virginia, will preside.

    Please join me and CACS in welcoming these special guests to campus today and tomorrow.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Friday, January 10, 2020

    At the beginning of a new year, we often reflect on what has been and what is to come, asking ourselves questions about the journey ahead – questions like “Should I take this path or another?” or “How can I follow Christ more faithfully?” Tomorrow, Lifelong Learning is offering a one-day discernment workshop led by Dr. Kathy Staudt providing a framework as well as time to sit with questions like these and listen for God’s gentle direction. This year’s retreat, "Listening to God: Discerning Vocation in Everyday Living," sold out in December and the waitlist reached capacity. Fortunately, Dr. Staudt will provide a second opportunity for this retreat on April 18. I suggest you register now based on how quickly the last one sold out.

    In addition to this popular retreat, Dr. Staudt will teach two courses at VTS this Spring pertaining to discernment. Through Lifelong Learning, she will teach a five-week course, Why Be a Christian?: Claiming Christian Identity in a Post-Christian Culture, exploring questions of faith and practice. And through our Pathways to Ministry program, she will guide the Pathway students in a structured program of discernment.

    As people of faith, we strive to listen to God and discern how to follow Christ more faithfully. These and other offerings from VTS are meant to support you on this journey whether you are lay or clergy, a seminarian, or a curious individual.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. 
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Thursday, January 9, 2020

    January is a time when many VTS students and a few of our faculty participate in Cross-Cultural Education Programs (CCEPs). These opportunities often bring an openness to the perspectives and cultures of others; they also bring an openness to hear more deeply the voice of God. They are often the most significant experiences one has at Seminary, so please join me in praying for all those involved.
     
    Dillon Green is traveling to Costa Rica with the Rev. Kathy Grieb, Ph.D., to work with El Buen Pastor Anglican Cathedral in San Jose as they more fully develop the Anglican presence in the area. Christian Basel, Melina Dezhbod, Joshua Paget, and Celal Kamran are traveling to Cuba. They will be staying at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanzas, working directly with surrounding churches, and learning about asset-based community development in the Cuban context. The Rev. Altagracia Pérez-Bullard, Ph.D., is the faculty advisor for this CCEP.

    Traveling to the Holy Land as part of the annual course offered by our partners at St. George’s College in Jerusalem are Larry Civale, Catherine Cox, Gwynn Crichton, Donna Hines, Pete Nunnally, Allison Pace, Tumaini Sarakikya, Colleen Schiefelbein, Sam Sheridan, Suresh Shantakumar, and Doug Worthington. Our Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Rev. Melody Knowles, Ph.D., is the faculty advisor for this course.
     
    We look forward to hearing more about these enriching experiences when they return.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • VTS Announces Partnership With the St. Nicholas Center

    Read More
  • Wednesday, January 8, 2020

    Today is a rest day for the students taking the General Ordination Examinations. Two days down and now a breather before it all starts again tomorrow. I've seen many Facebook posts about the GOEs; I found Sarah Condon's honesty compelling. She wrote, "Seminarians, I failed Ethics on the GOEs and was still ordained. Also, I'm an okay priest. Which is the best I could hope for." Let me be clear, I am not proposing that our seniors and Anglican Studies students resign themselves to failing ethics, but I do think it is wise counsel that one's entire priestly identity should not be wrapped up in the result of this one examination.

    Sarah is married to Josh Condon (our alum). She is also a contributor the book that Crystal Hardin and I have edited called Prophetic Preaching. During my trip to Sewanee, I worked through the proofs of Prophetic Preaching. It was lovely to reread Sarah's essay; I appreciated the clarity of her voice, even if the essay is taking issue with the position I argue for in the book. Hopefully, this book will be released in the next three months or so.

    Meanwhile, we had our first snow related closure of the year. I was grateful for the thoughtful decision and the way it was conveyed to the community. There are many factors to balance when these decisions are made. We won't all agree, because these are difficult calls. We will use email and our website to let people know. Please do keep yourself informed as weather challenges arise.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Deep Calls to Deep Accepting Applications for 2020-2021 Cohort

    Media Contact: Curtis Prather
    Tel: (703) 461-1782
    Email: cprather@vts.edu
     
    Alexandria, VA - Deep Calls to Deep is a year-long program for mid-career clergy hosted by Virginia Theological Seminary.  Preachers nourish their passion for preaching through voice and embodiment work and through deepening their connection with the Holy Spirit.

    Peer groups of six working preachers gather initially for a week-long residency from June 7-12, 2020.  Over the course of a year, they meet monthly to preach for each other and respond to each other’s preaching, then gather for a final residency in June 2021.  The program also includes sabbath time and worship, individual coaching with a preaching guide, lectures and workshops, and a mid-year retreat.

    The majority of this program is generously funded by a Lilly Endowment grant and supported by VTS.  A preaching fellowship includes programming, meals, and housing.  Accepted fellows are asked to contribute $500, as well as travel costs.

    For more information and an application, please visit https://www.vts.edu/deep-calls-to-deep
     
    ####
     
    ABOUT VTS
    Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those ordained who received residential theological education. Visit Virginia Seminary online at www.vts.edu.
    Read More
  • Tuesday, January 7, 2020

    This is the time when the Council of Deans gather together. The meeting this year is at Sewanee. All the deans of the Episcopal Seminaries take the opportunity to discuss shared issues, the state of the Episcopal Church, and possible shared initiatives. It has been an important meeting. Yesterday we had a presentation from the leadership of Trinity Wall Street and of CDSP about their partnership and the hopes they have for the future. It was an important moment as we acknowledged this exciting partnership between a seminary and a major congregation.

    Overall the news from the seminaries is good. Two are in the middle of a capital campaign; almost all have seen an increase in admissions; and placement rates are high across the board. There is a sense of hopefulness as we start the third decade of the 21st century.

    Inevitably, leadership positions in theological education can be hard. There is stress and anxiety as one seeks to "get the work right" for the institution and the future. I admire all the deans who are giving their working lives to support theological education in the Episcopal Church. For their leadership and friendship, I am grateful.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Monday, January 6, 2020

    Today I am pleased to welcome to campus Canon Sarah Snyder, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Special Adviser for Reconciliation, and founding Director of the Rose Castle Foundation. Canon Snyder will be with us for the rest of January and February as a Dean’s Scholar, and she will be teaching a January term course, Reconciliation in the Midst of Conflict: Biblical and Practical Approaches, Monday through Thursday evenings next week, January 13-16.  

    As a trained mediator and theologian who specializes in Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations, Canon Snyder has worked for many years with international communities and senior religious leaders to promote faith-based reconciliation and peace-building. As the Special Adviser for Reconciliation, she works with Archbishop 
    Welby and international leaders to support reconciliation in some of the most difficult situations in the church and the world. She also serves as the founding director of the Rose Castle Foundation, an international center of reconciliation in the north of England and resources initiatives such as the Reconciling Leaders Network. 

    I am grateful to my colleagues in the Center for Anglican Communion Studies, who have partnered with Canon Sarah on several initiatives since her first visit here in 2016
    , and to Lifelong Learning, who helped bring next week’s course to fruition as a continuing education offering. Please join me in welcoming Canon Sarah to VTS once again.    

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • Friday, January 3, 2020

    I took the General Ordination Examinations in January 2007. It was less high tech then. I had to pick up the question from the Diocesan Office in a sealed envelope; then I wrote my answer, printed it out, and then returned the answer to the Diocesan Office. I am pleased to report that I did pass all the canonical areas, although I had plenty of 4s and even a 3 among the grades (3 was a passing grade). I remember the anxiety as I opened that question; and I remembered the exhaustion as the days passed and the questions continued.

    So today I will praying for our Seniors and Anglican Studies students. This is a tool - one of several that will be used by Bishops for determining preparedness for ministry. I ask the community to be gentle. With time differences across the United States, Seniors are required to resist talking about the content of questions. So check in on their wellbeing, but please resist the desire to offer feedback on the quality of their answers.

    I am pleased that those taking the GOEs are planning to share worship together. Placing this moment in the context of the eternal is right and appropriate. Everything is placed in perspective when we bring these things to God in prayer.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President

    Read More
  • Thursday, January 2, 2020

    Happy New Year! And a warm welcome to the third decade of the 21st century. I know that technically the new decade begins in 2021; but given we all made an appropriate fuss of the year 2000, I think it makes sense to treat the date change as the moment that we mark. 

    Many of us take stock at the end of a year. This makes sense. It is healthy to be reflective about our lives. However, as Christians, it is important that our goals are appropriate. Of course, it is perfectly understandable that we think about the material and the immediate; but it is also healthy to pause and think about our commitments to reconcilation or to peace making or to the cultivation of virtue.

    So do please use this time to reflect on both the material and the eternal. In the end we will be judged to the extent that we are reflecting Christ like virtues. This is always our work as disciples of Jesus Christ.

    The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
    Dean and President
    Read More
  • VTS Announces PitchTank, Encouraging Church Entrepreneurship

    Media Contact: Curtis Prather
    Tel: (703) 461-1782
    Email: cprather@vts.edu
     
    Alexandria, VA - From church in a spin studio to a smart speaker version of morning prayer that’s been a hit, to starting Spanish-speaking congregational communities from scratch, it has been a year of trying for TryTank, the experimental lab for church growth and innovation. And now, TryTank is casting a wide net for the next great innovation idea for the church by introducing PitchTank, an opportunity for church entrepreneurs who wish to see more innovation and experimentation to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts.
     
    PitchTank will occur on Friday, January 24, 2020 at the Rooted in Jesus conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Entrepreneurs may pitch their ideas either live at the conference or over videoconferencing. The selected ideas will receive a budget of up to $5000 to launch their experiment in collaboration with TryTank. All are encouraged to submit ideas and can do so by visiting www.TryTank.org/pitchtank.
     
    PitchTank is open to anyone in the church, lay or ordained, who wants to share an experiment idea about how they believe the church could grow. Based in grassroots organization, PitchTank seeks to glean the wisdom of the church to help the church. As the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, the founding director of TryTank, explains, “We know that the wisdom of the church is actually in the church and this is one way we’re trying to find more of it.”
     
    PitchTank will have a straightforward process that allows good ideas to have a hearing. The individual pitch should only be five minutes long. With such a brief window of opportunity, entrepreneurs are encouraged to present the essence of their idea. Some guiding questions might be, “What is the problem to be addressed and the solution proposed?” “Briefly, how will the solution work?” and “Why is this important for the church.” Lebrija explains, “On purpose, this is a very simple process so that anyone who has an idea can give us the gist of it. If it’s good, we’ll work to develop it with them.” All ideas are welcome.
     
    TryTank: An Experimental Laboratory for Church Growth and Innovation is a joint project between Virginia Theological Seminary and the General Theological Seminary. TryTank offers a much-needed inventive approach to the challenges facing the Episcopal Church. Working in partnership across the Episcopal Church, TryTank works to understand the forces threatening the church in order to identify creative ways to equip future leaders to reinvigorate the church.
     
    ####
     
    ABOUT VTS
    Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those ordained who received residential theological education. Visit Virginia Seminary online at www.vts.edu.
    Read More
< 2020
3737 Seminary Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22304  |  Phone: 703-370-6600 or 800-941-0083 | Employee Directory