Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The board meeting in May was historic and important. The board dedicated the February meeting and now the May meeting to thinking about the future. As the Seminary approaches its two hundredth birthday in 2023, what are we called by God to be and to do?

After much deliberation, the board arrived at a vision statement. VTS will be both traditional and yet innovative. We will take the best from the past and respond imaginatively to the challenges of the future. So, on the traditional end: while many seminaries are finding the traditional three-year residential M.Div. impossible to sustain, we are committed to the concept of formation in community and in 2016 will build 38 additional housing units on campus. And on the innovative end: we are ready to make our programming more flexible and to provide on-line and part-time options.  

There is much embedded in the vision statement. With the changing demographics of America, the Seminary commits to equipping students with the "appropriate skills to engage with a diverse world" (so learning Spanish is important).  With the Episcopal Church nervous about raising up vocations for training, the Seminary commits to providing the resources for an important Church-wide conversation about congregational leadership. With the success of our Second Three Years program, the Seminary commits to offering "comprehensive educational and support programs" to our graduates after 10, 15, and 20 years out.

Much of the statement is a celebration of formation. The traditional VTS emphasis on mission is there: the vision statement is firmly Christocentric - "the curriculum... is Christ-centered," our graduates will be "hopeful, spirit-filled, and joyous disciples of Christ," and "aware of their call to serve Christ through a lifetime of learning and service."

The vision statement is the start of the strategic planning process. The exact direction and activities of the Seminary over the next decade requires considerable deliberation. So stakeholders from around the Church and the world will be asked to help us. Given the direction set by the Board of Trustees, what do you think we should do?

Click here to read the vision statement.

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