Just the other day I read an article in The New York Times about how General was planning on selling the entire 9th Avenue campus, and moving to a new location. Of course, that article was published on January 28, 1880. It was a reminder to me that GTS has faced seemingly insurmountable problems, financial and otherwise, for its entire history, and will undoubtedly continue to do so. Nevertheless, it has survived, thrived, and grown during that entire time, adjusting to new situations and new realities.
As a student, I have the privilege of witnessing how the Seminary has been able to accomplish this wonderful feat. I have seen an astonishingly passionate and motivated group of students provide the energy and vision of what a seminary and a seminary education can be. I have witnessed a supremely dedicated faculty that pushes the boundaries of what teaching can be, while maintaining a vital historic tradition. Moreover, I have enjoyed working alongside a dedicated administration and staff whose only motivation is to keep the Seminary growing and thriving against challenging odds.
Of course, the future role our residential seminaries play in theological education involves decisions that must be made in dialogue with the entire Episcopal Church. Other aspects of seminary education will also need to be addressed, including the use of online technologies and the expansion of degrees, such as the MA, to further allow opportunity for educating the laity in their callings and ministries.
I will be graduating this spring, hopefully continuing my academic studies of the Bible at another institution. I value my time spent here. The General Theological Seminary has given me enormous opportunities for study and reflection. I will leave the Close with fond memories of the wonderful times past, and with excitement for a promising future. As well, I will leave with pride in being part of a proud tradition, and with confidence that in the hands of current, and future, students, faculty, administration and staff, that proud tradition will continue forward.
For me the title of Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling 2006 memoir sums up three central values of General Seminary: Eat, Pray, and Love. Although GTS is best known for its chapel, liturgy, and tradition, after six short months here, I believe that the best thing we have going for us is our community. I love that we have a free community meal on Tuesday nights, as well as coffee and bagels every morning after worship. A seminary that eats together grows together. I also love that there are four opportunities every day for us to gather as a community to pray for the world, the Close, and everybody and everything in between.
The seminary that prays together stays together. And I’ll never forget after one of my first Tuesday evening Eucharist services, everybody was gathered around the outside of the chapel. I wondered why everybody wasn’t heading to get in line for the community meal in Hoffman Hall. Then a huge roar of applause erupted, and I turned to notice that the students were cheering for Jeff Roy, who had just preached his senior sermon during the service. While many graduate schools are plagued by competition among the students, I realized then that GTS is blessed with students who love one another. The seminary that loves together heals together. I honestly trust the administration, board, and faculty to do their part to ensure that GTS has a bright future. I have a great deal of trust in and respect for our new President and Dean. But that can only happen if we continue to eat, pray, and love.