Today is a special day. We are 1823 days from our bicentennial. There is something remarkable about 200 years. In 1823, James Monroe was the President; the Monroe Doctrine was formulated - a speech which forbade European interference here in the States and promised neutrality in respects to conflicts in Europe. This was the year when the United States recognizes the rights of indigenous landholders. We are just 11 years from the war of 1812; we are just 47 years from the Declaration of Independence. America is a nation still finding its way in 1823.
It is now 200 years later. The world has changed in countless ways. One theme of tonight's service is "continuity and change". The Seminary that was founded in 1823 was committed to witnessing to the power of our tradition to bring Christ to a hurting world. We believed that learning together in community was a key to effective formation. We believed in deep connections between the place of learning and the congregations we seek to serve. All of this we continue to believe. In these respects, we are committed to continuity.
Yet we are also committed to change. No one knew about the Internet, social media, or email in 1823. Now we need a tech-savvy church. No one knew about the theory of evolution or DNA in 1823. Now we need to be the tradition that can witness to the ways in which science and faith can coexist. And most importantly, we were a Seminary where some Faculty (the majority) had slaves; now we know the slavery is a deep evil - an evil that requires repentance and a commitment to radically different future. In these respects, we are committed to change.
So Continuity and Change: this is what we mark as we move towards our 200th anniversary. This is the theme of tonight's 1823 Eucharist.
The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. Dean and President