Making Sense of the Mess at General Seminary

I’ve got no wisdom on this awful, heartbreaking, embarrassing situation, knowing almost nothing about GTS except being acquainted with several alums. But I’ve been asked about it by some folks, so I thought it might help to point people to pieces that have helped me understand something of the situation. The first, most important, and perhaps only necessary thing to read is Crusty Old Dean’s ruminations.

Crusty reminds us of several important facts: 1) That even in the seemingly stable and everlasting Episcopal Church, institutions come and go, including seminaries. It may be that General is simply not going to survive. 2) That this conflict comes at the nexus of two significant transformations in our society–the changing role of religion, especially mainline Christianity and the transformation of higher education. Seminaries are caught up in both of these larger cultural forces.

3) (Although Crusty doesn’t explicitly say this)That this conflict, and the quick escalation to “firings” or “resignations” reflects the corporatization of the church and the academy (see the discussion of the Task Force on Reimagining the Episcopal Church for more of the former). In the place of conversation, prayer, and discernment, we have lawyers (on both sides).

I agree with Crusty’s assessment that General may not survive this and that there will be repercussions throughout US theological education for years to come.

Derek Olsen discusses the significance of the changes in corporate worship and daily prayer for the overall life of the seminary and the formation of the students.

The faculty have put up a website that offers some of their perspective.

And The New York Times has an article providing background, including the news that the Seminary Board of Trustees will meet with the faculty.

Oh, and by the way, according to the GTS website, Bishop Miller of the Diocese of Milwaukee is a member of the Board of Trustees.

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2 thoughts on “Making Sense of the Mess at General Seminary

  1. A sad state of affairs… embarrassingly. This is how those committed to following the “mind of Christ” operate? Now we see the corporate (and legalistic) church in operation and in conflict with all that we say we know and speak.There will be a lot of unravelling to do here. Thankfully, I am not on the Board of Trustees! Peace in GTS!

  2. I am sorry but I have to say that I find the actions of the Board and Bishop Sisk in particular to be inappropriate, disgusting, and abusive. This is how you treat employees that come forward with legitimate grievances?

    Bishop Sisk is quoted in the NYT as saying, “I think the trustees felt, who are these people?”. Essentially who do these little people think that they are to question our authority/rank/power. It is perhaps best if Bishop Sisk refrained from giving any interviews in the future if he doesn’t know how to communicate without sounding like a over privileged bully and or a pompous ass.

    I would be amazed if GTS survives this but if it does I believe that its governing structure will need to be changed to include all stakeholders as equals.

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