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New Program in Spiritual Guidance of Children

14 September 2010

GTS to Offer New Program in the Spiritual Guidance of Children

New York City – Beginning this fall, The General Theological Seminary (GTS), in partnership with the Center for the Theology of Childhood, will offer an innovative certificate program in the spiritual guidance of children. The program will provide both academic learning and practical training for leaders who seek to nurture children’s relationship with God. The Rev. Dr. Jerome W. Berryman, noted author, educator, and founder of Godly Play®, will join members of the Seminary faculty in teaching courses about children’s spirituality, theological views of children, wonder and play in a theological context, and the spirituality of children in literature and film, as well as parables, biblical theology and liturgy with a focus on children’s spirituality.

“Children have a natural, deep spirituality,” said the Rev. K. Jeanne Person, Director of General Seminary’s Center for the Christian Spirituality. “They know God even before stories and symbols. They need adults who can nurture their sense of the holy and help them discover a language for their faith.”

General’s new program will equip faith community leaders, clergy, chaplains, educators, parents, and others to offer spiritual guidance to children. Courses are designed in intensive formats, taking place over a period of a few days or a weekend, to allow students to pursue study concurrent with other commitments, such as jobs and families. Dr. Berryman will teach the program’s inaugural three-day course, Theology and Children: Past, Present and Future, on the weekend of October 22, 23 & 24, as well as The Spirituality of Children on November 10, 11 and 12. The Rev. Dr. Patrick Malloy, GTS professor of liturgics, will teach Children’s Spirituality in Worship on November 13 & 14.

Because the certificate program is new, General will offer rolling admissions this academic year which enables prospective students to apply at any time. The Seminary is also offering a discounted introductory tuition for students who pay for the entire program before October 1, 2010. Students are also welcome to register for individual courses to enhance their ministries, spiritual lives and relationships with children. Detailed information about courses and the certificate program, including housing options, can be found on the Seminary’s website, www.gts.edu. 

 “We’re delighted to be partnering with the Center for the Theology of Childhood in creating this unique program,” said Dr. Ted Gerbracht, the Seminary’s chief academic officer and himself a 35-year veteran of teaching and directing Christian education in a parish. “It’s really a groundbreaking venture for the Seminary,” he continued, “one that connects all the resources of the academy with children, who are the church’s future.”
For more information on the Certificate Program in the Spiritual Guidance of Children, contact the Rev. K. Jeanne Person, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The General Theological Seminary, located in the heart of New York City, educates and forms leaders for the church in a changing world. Founded in 1817 as the first theological seminary of the Episcopal Church, General offers certificate and degree programs including the Master of Divinity, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Theology. The Seminary is also home to the Desmond Tutu Center, a full-service conference center with sixty modern guest rooms.

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Media Contact: Bruce Parker
Executive Director of Communications
The General Theological Seminary
175 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY 10011
(212) 243-5150 x285,
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.gts.edu



An Open Letter to General Seminary’s
Faculty, Staff, Students, Friends, Alumni/æ, and the Church at Large
May 20, 2010
I am pleased to share with you the good news from the Board of Trustees meeting which took place earlier this week.  The Board adopted a Plan of Action that will provide financial viability for the future.  I regret the negative rumors about GTS that have been circulating this spring; I know some of you were alarmed by them.  The challenges General faces are real and are similar to challenges faced by many seminaries in our changing times.  However, I am confident that the plan just adopted will provide the financial security needed for the next Dean and President to move General Seminary into a vital and exciting future. 
Over the past ten years we have made strategic investments in Chelsea Square to preserve our urban campus, to develop the new library, to develop the Desmond Tutu Center and other innovative possibilities.  Our improved facilities now support our evolving programs much better, and building maintenance now takes a significantly smaller share of our annual budget.  In order to make the necessary $70 million investment in rehabilitating our aging buildings, the Seminary has taken on $33 million in debt.  The Plan of Action defines the steps that will meet both the financial and the programmatic challenges, steps that will secure the financial vitality and ensure the continuance of General Seminary in the future as it seeks to meet the needs of a changing church. 
The plan involves two primary parts.  The first part involves developing a $10 million pool of capital to bridge the gap between the present inadequate cash flow and the future when revenue streams will cover the cost of loans and operations.  In four to five years the revenue from the Desmond Tutu Center, from the endowment (at 5%), from the annual fund, and from tuition, fees, and room rental will meet the expenses.  The challenge is to get from here to there, and the way is to develop this $10 million operating reserve.  We will develop this capital by selling condominiums within Chelsea 2, 3, 4 and by raising funds from our closest friends and supporters.  The second part is a reduction of our annual costs by refinancing our loans to obtain a lower interest rate.  We are in conversation with several other Episcopal institutions that have very generously offered assistance for this part of the plan. 
Some have raised concerns about selling any part of our historic and beloved property.  In truth, we might have avoided the past few months of anxiety if we had been more willing to sell once we knew we could not build the seventeen story building on Ninth Avenue (which meant a loss of $15 million in anticipated revenue).  We have looked at many different options and determined this is the best alternative.  The specific apartments in Chelsea 2,3,4 have always been rented to outside tenants since they were created by the 2004 renovation of the building.  Selling them will not affect our mission or our program.  We already have people who desire to purchase them, so we do not have to look for buyers.  Included in the sale will be an option for the Seminary to have first refusal when they may be sold in the future.  Together with modest philanthropy, they will provide the desired $10 million reserve. 
When we have fully implemented this plan, I believe General Seminary will be on a path that will be more fiscally healthy than it has been able to achieve since the 1970s.  We will not be on easy street, but we should be viable.  Most of the deferred maintenance, which was the Seminary’s hidden debt, has been rectified.  We will be drawing a sustainable amount from our endowment.  And we will be putting funds aside in a plant fund for ongoing capital improvements. 
In the midst of these concerns about seminary finances, we have not lost sight of the program developments that are underway.  Adoption of the Plan of Action allows us to continue the work of developing new areas of and new approaches for theological education. 
  In the next few weeks we expect to hire the Alumni/æ Professor of Christian Formation and begin developing the Center for Continuing Education.  This position is funded by the endowment developed in the previous Leaders for the Church capital campaign and a grant from the William Woods Foundation.  In the Michaelmas term the Center, in collabor ation with the Godly Play Foundation and the faculty of General, will offer a Certificate for the Spiritual Guidance of Children.  The Rev. Jerome Berryman, the originator of the Godly Play curriculum, will work closely with the Center as advisor and instructor. This Certificate will become a requirement for certification of those who train Godly Playfacilitators. This development is an example of what I believe represents a new direction for theological education:  we are developing the program in collaboration with another entity (the Godly PlayFoundation); it will serve particular needs of the Church both in the U.S. and in Europe; it will enrich our M.Div. program; and elements of the curriculum will be available on-line. 
  We continue to strengthen our primary degree programs.  Archbishop Peter Carnley, former Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, will be on the Close during the Michaelmas 2010 and Easter 2011 terms as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Anglican Studies.  He will teach both systematic theology and ethics.  Archbishop Carnley received his Ph. D. in theology from Cambridge University in 1970 and is widely known and highly respected in the Anglican Communion.   He has authored a major work on resurrection theology, Structure of Resurrection Belief, as well as Reflections in Glass: Trends and Tensions in the Contemporary Anglican Church. 
  The gift of $5 million from Polly Keller Winter and Christoph Keller, III to complete the library, reported to you earlier, is a major step into the future.  The Board has named the library the Christoph Keller, Jr. Library in honor of the former Bishop of Arkansas who was a courageous and wise leader of the Church during the struggles for integration and the ordination of women.  We are moving toward completion of converting our card catalogue to electronic form and the architects are developing construction documents. We have also begun conversations with Virginia Seminary regarding sharing the costs of off-site storage and future digitalization of a portion of the library. 
  The Center for Christian Spirituality under the leadership of the Rev. Jeanne Person has developed important new initiatives and is moving forward financially as well as programmatically.  This academic year, the CCS opened the way for M.Div. students to earn a Certificate in Spiritual Direction concurrent with their M.Div. degree, enhancing the attractiveness of the M.Div. program and leading to higher enrollments in spiritual direction practicums. The CCS also introduced a one-credit weekend course in spiritual direction supervision that was fully enrolled; in June 2011, the CCS will offer a mid-week version of this course to meet the scheduling needs of local clergy who are spiritual directors. Going forward, the CCS will continue to explore new formats for teaching and will participate in the seminary’s discernment about offering a D.Min. program. 
  The Anglican Studies distance education program in partnership with the Diocese of Rochester and Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School has made significant progress this year.  Again, this represents new developments in our curriculum, a creative collabor ation, and delivery of theological education using electronic means. 
  Despite the publicity concerning the financial condition of General Seminary, it appears we will have a strong enrollment for the coming year.
*   *   *   *   *
This is a crucial time for The General Theological Seminary as the Episcopal Church continues to struggle with decline in membership and dwindling support for its theological seminaries. 
Population growth in this country since the early 20th century has been in the urban areas.  Rural population has been in decline for at least a century and small town population has been, at best, stationary.  The mainline Protestant churches in this country are well-established in rural com munities and small towns, as well as in suburban areas.  However, we are less well-established in our major urban centers.  One can only surmise that part of the decline of the mainline churches is their failure to respond to the changing urban populations and urban environment.  General Seminary is the only truly urban seminary for the Episcopal Church.  An urban seminary where students experience life in the city and which can focus on issues involved in metropolitan ministries is essential to our church. 
General Seminary brings a particular focus in terms of education and formation.  Our academic excellence is supported by an outstanding faculty and the most important library collection in the Episcopal Church.  Our emphasis on liturgy together with those programs offered by the Center for Christian Spirituality balance the importance of academic preparation with an emphasis on spiritual formation.  This balance is essential for the formation of leaders who will be steadfast and creative. 
General Seminary is just beginning to develop new and exciting directions for theological education. In addition to the new programs just listed, the opening of the Desmond Tutu Center has brought new opportunities for programs, both those sponsored by the Seminary and those brought to us by those from outside.  The presentation before graduation on science and religion by Sir John Polkinghorne, noted physicist and priest, is just one example of the opportunities this facility provides to the students and faculty of the Seminary, and to all of New York, as well.  By achieving these innovations, General has laid the groundwork for future innovative collaborations and partnerships. We believe the future of theolog ical education will require such new models to complement the traditional, residential seminary program. 
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the Dean and President of General Seminary these past twelve years.  It has certainly been an adventure.  I have been surrounded by an amazing staff. We have struggled at times, we have responded to threatening challenges, and we have enjoyed one another’s presence and commitment.  Every person works out of a deep commitment to the mission of this Seminary and to the Good News of God’s all-inclusive love for all people.  We have been supported by alums and friends of the Seminary.  I look forward to the transition to the next Dean and President.  I believe the plan approved by the Board of Trustees will allow the new leadership to continue the process of re-inventing theological education, moving the Seminary into an exciting future. 
Faithfully,
Ward B. Ewing, Dean and President

THE GENERAL THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
440 West 21st Street, New York City, NY 10011   |   tel (212) 243-5150  fax (212) 727-3907

The General Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church is a tax exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

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