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Seminary Adopts Plan of Action

5/20/2010

General Seminary Adopts Plan of Action to Address Financial Concerns

New York City – Meeting on May 18, 2010 in faith and with firm commitment, the Board of Trustees of the General Theological Seminary unanimously approved a plan for the Seminary to continue to carry out its mission to educate and form leaders for the church in a changing world.  Following the meeting the Rev. Canon Denis O’Pray, chair of the Board of Trustees, said, “The church should know that with the realization of this plan, the continuance of Seminary operations is assured for the next several years, during which time longer range financial planning can be put in place.”

With the presence, support and blessing of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Trustees approved a resolution which:

  1. Created a $10 million operating reserve fund to provide a period of needed financial stability. This fund is established through special philanthropic efforts, which have already resulted in $1.5 million in firm commitments and, if necessary through the sale of up to four residential apartments in the Seminary building known as Chelsea 2, 3, and 4.  The Trustees approved the steps needed to turn this property into condominiums for possible sale. They have an estimated value of $8-10 million. The apartments under discussion have been rented to outside tenants for the last six years and have never been used for Seminary purposes. The Seminary will have right of “first refusal” when the apartments are offered for sale by the future purchasers.
  2. Called for the renegotiation of part of the Seminary’s loan package to reduce interest payments and permit more manageable cash flow.
  3. Announced that the Seminary will proceed to call a new interim Dean and President to take office later this summer (the Seminary’s current Dean having announced in December 2009 his intention to retire). A Special Meeting of the Board is scheduled for June 9th for further deliberation on this important appointment.
  4. Committed the Board to pursue all productive avenues for conversations with other seminaries and institutions of The Episcopal Church to consider creative collaborations and common programs. Such conversations have already begun.

“I am most gratified by the Board’s decisive action as well as the participation of our Presiding Bishop in the discussion,” said the Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing, Dean and President of GTS.  “The plan represents a very positive way forward.  I am delighted that it was received with unanimous approval.”

 

# # #

 

Media Contact:

Bruce Parker
Executive Director of Communications
The General Theological Seminary
175 Ninth Ave.
New York, NY 10011
(212) 243-5150 x285

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Board of Trustees Resolution May 18, 2010

18 May 2010 -- Resolution from the Seminary's Board of Trustees


RESOLUTION
Approved Unanimously by the Board of Trustees of The General Theological Seminary
May 18, 2010

PREAMBLE In faith and with firm commitment, the Board of Trustees of the General Theological Seminary will continue to carry out our mission to educate and form leaders for the church in a changing world.  In answer to this call we pledge all our best efforts and will recruit and call an interim Dean and President in the coming weeks in order help lead and guide us forward.

Further, To this end we have endorsed the specific plans outlined below.  This plan will provide needed resources for immediate needs; meanwhile we are deeply committed to pursuing all productive avenues for conversations with other seminaries and institutions of the Episcopal Church to consider collaborations and common programs.

Whereas, The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in the United States (the “Seminary”) wishes to subject a portion of the Seminary’s property (land and improvements) located at Block 718, Lot 1 in the Borough of Manhattan (“Block 718, Lot 1”) and commonly referred to as “Chelsea 2, 3, 4” (such property, ”Chelsea 2, 3, 4”) to a condominium regime for the purposes of establishing distinct residential condominium units (the “Residential Units”); and

Whereas, The Seminary wishes to sell not more than four of the resulting Residential Units upon such terms as may be approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Seminary but in no event for an amount less than the fair market value of such residential Units;

Now, therefore,

1)     Be it resolved that the Seminary be and is hereby authorized, empowered and directed to a) establish a condominium regime for Chelsea 2,3,and 4, b) sell not more than four of the resulting Residential Units upon such terms as may be approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Seminary but in no event for an amount less than the fair market value of such residential Units, and c) obtain the release of Chelsea 2,3 and 4 (or, alternatively, the release of the Residential units to be sold) the lien of the mortgages currently encumbering Block 718 Lot 1and held, respectively, by Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company and the Trustees of the Estate Belonging to the Diocese of Long Island (collectively, the mortgages) and if necessary subject the Residential Units not sold to the lien of the Mortgages (the transaction described in this resolution being hereinafter  referred to as the “Condominium Conversion and Sale”);

2)    Be it further resolved that the Seminary be and is hereby authorized empowered and directed to furnish all materials, execute and deliver any instruments and documents and take such further actions, as may be necessary to consummate and effect the Condominium Conversion and Sale, including procuring of any necessary approvals from the New York State Attorney General; and the New Your State Supreme Court; and

3)    Be it further resolved that the Dean and President of the Seminary or the Executive Vice president of the Seminary or any other officer or employee of the Seminary designated by the Board of Trustees or the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, be and is hereby authorized, empowered and directed to furnish all materials, execute and deliver and instruments and documents, and take such further actions as may be necessary to consummate and effect the Condominium Conversion and Sale, including procuring any necessary approvals from the New York State Attorney General and the New York State Supreme Court; and

4)    Be it further resolved that all actions heretofore taken by any officer or employees of the Seminary in respect of the Condominium Conversion and Sale are hereby ratified and confirmed.

5)    Be it further resolved that the Board of Trustees of the Seminary authorize an ad hoc committee composed of Denis O’Pray, Board Chair, and Sandra Johnson and David Pitts, Board Members, to negotiate terms of investment with interested institutions and parties and report the result of such negotiations to the Executive Committee so that the Executive Committee may determine if the requirements of the plan for  the infusion of cash for the operation reserved from the Condominium Conversion and Sale and special philanthropic gifts have been met and the financial restructuring can continue.

6)    Be it further resolved that the Executive Committee will seek and secure “letters of comfort” as to the efficacy and validity of the transactions proposed in this resolution from the interested institutions and parties including the Manufacturers and traders Trust Company.

7)    Be it further resolved that the Executive Committee will seek and secure a letter of advice resulting from an independent financial assessment conducted by a bona fide and recognized independent financial consultant or institution of high standing and integrity.

Trustees Address Financial Concerns

20 May 2010

General Seminary Adopts Plan of Action to Address Financial Concerns

New York City – Meeting on May 18, 2010  in faith and with firm commitment, the Board of Trustees of the General Theological Seminary unanimously approved a plan for the Seminary to continue to carry out its mission to educate and form leaders for the church in a changing world [please scroll down for the Resolution which details the plan].  Following the meeting the Rev. Canon Denis O’Pray, chair of the Board of Trustees, said, “The church should know that with the realization of this plan, the continuance of Seminary operations is assured for the next several years, during which time longer range financial planning can be put in place.”

With the presence, support and blessing of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Trustees approved a resolution which:

  1. Created a $10 million operating reserve fund to provide a period of needed financial stability. This fund is established through special philanthropic efforts, which have already resulted in $1.5 million in firm commitments and, if necessary through the sale of up to four residential apartments in the Seminary building known as Chelsea 2, 3, and 4.  The Trustees approved the steps needed to turn this property into condominiums for possible sale. They have an estimated value of $8-10 million. The apartments under discussion have been rented to outside tenants for the last six years and have never been used for Seminary purposes. The Seminary will have right of “first refusal” when the apartments are offered for sale by the future purchasers.
  2. Called for the renegotiation of part of the Seminary’s loan package to reduce interest payments and permit more manageable cash flow.
  3. Announced that the Seminary will proceed to call a new interim Dean and President to take office later this summer (the Seminary’s current Dean having announced in December 2009 his intention to retire). A Special Meeting of the Board is scheduled for June 9th for further deliberation on this important appointment.
  4. Committed the Board to pursue all productive avenues for conversations with other seminaries and institutions of The Episcopal Church to consider creative collaborations and common programs. Such conversations have already begun.

“I am most gratified by the Board’s decisive action as well as the participation of our Presiding Bishop in the discussion,” said the Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing, Dean and President of GTS.  “The plan represents a very positive way forward.  I am delighted that it was received with unanimous approval.”

# # #

 

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


 

Commencement 2010

 



29 April 2010 -- Press Release

General Seminary to Award Degrees and Moore Medal on May 19


New York City – Majestic brass music and pealing bells will fill the garden-like campus of The General Theological Seminary on May 19 as faculty members in colorful academic regalia are joined by friends, trustees, and students for the historic institution's 188th Commencement Exercises. Fifty-one women and men will receive degrees, diplomas, or certificates from the Seminary's Dean, the Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing.  Additionally, the Seminary’s honorary doctorate will be conferred on Mrs. Ruth Bakare, the Rt. Rev. Sebastian Bakare, the Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne KBE FRS, Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo, and the Rev. Dr. J. Robert Wright. The Clement Clarke Moore Medal will be presented to Mr. David N. Redden and to Mrs. Jeannette Redden. 

Ruth Bakare of Zimbabwe is a tireless leader of the church for the welfare and development of women and children.  An outstanding educator, she has taught on many levels in Europe and in Africa.  When her husband was elected Bishop of Manicaland, she became president of the diocesan Mother’s Union. Under her leadership the Union was a strong force for improving the lot of women and families, particularly addressing issues of AIDS, absentee husbands, limited education, nutrition and limited career choices for women.  In 2006, she and her husband founded the Christian Relief and Development Trust which seeks to offer widows and displaced children nutritional, educational, and psychosocial support and HIV/AIDS prevention services. In 2007 she served as a representative to the UN Observer’s Office and also became president of the Mother’s Union of Harare. At one meeting some thirty-two hundred women were in attendance, some who had travelled from 250K away.  

The Rt. Rev. Sebastian Bakare serves as Acting Bishop of Harare Zimbabwe.  As the political situation in Zimbabwe has worsened, Bishop Bakare has led the church with remarkable grace and courage in the face of a hostile government.  While leading his own church and standing up for his people against political oppression, Bishop Bakare has continued to maintain relationships with the Anglican Communion. Prior to his ministry in Harare, he served as Bishop of Manicaland where he achieved remarkable success in social welfare and development projects, and served as President of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches.  Before becoming a bishop, he was professor and chaplain at the University of Harare.  His theological interests include Christianity in its cultural context (particularly on African issues), ecumenism, and the theology of land reform.  During the last years of Rhodesia in the early 1980’s, at the end of 18 years in exile Bakare brought his family to Berkeley, California, where he did advanced studies at the Graduate Theological Union. 

The Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne, KBE FRS, was born in 1930 in Weston-super-Mare, England. He is a priest of the Church of England, a particle physicist and theologian, and has written extensively on matters concerning science and faith. He read Mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1952 and then earned his PhD in physics in 1955.  After two years as a Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, he returned to Cambridge in 1958, and was elected Professor of Mathematical Physics in 1968. During his 25 years as a theoretical physicist, Dr. Polkinghorne worked on theories of elementary particles and played a significant role in the discovery of the quark. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1974. He resigned his professorial chair to study for the priesthood at Cambridge and was ordained in 1982. He returned to Cambridge to be Dean of the Chapel at Trinity Hall, 1986-1989. He then became the President of Queens’ College, Cambridge, a position from which he retired in 1996. In 1997 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) and in 2002 was awarded the Templeton Prize for his contributions to research at the interface between science and religion. 

Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo was elected in May of 2008 to a six-year term as bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Metropolitan New York Synod.  Born in Joliet, Illinois, Bishop Rimbo graduated from Christ Seminary-Seminex, St. Louis, and served two years as executive assistant to the project director of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship, New York, which produced the Lutheran Book of Worship.  He was pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Valley Stream, New York, and of St. James Lutheran Church, Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, and was an assistant to the bishop of the ELCA Southeast Michigan Synod from 1991 to 1996.  When elected bishop of the ELCA Southeast Michigan Synod in 1998, he was pastor of Antioch Lutheran Church, Farmington Hills, Michigan.  He left the office of bishop in 2005 to become pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, New York City.  Rimbo and his wife Lois are parents of two adult children.  The ELCA Metropolitan New York Synod consists of approximately 80,000 Lutherans in over 200 congregations in 14 New York counties.

The Rev. Canon J. Robert Wright, D.Phil., is St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery Professor of Ecclesiastical History at The General Theological Seminary. A specialist in patristic studies and in Anglicanism, Dr. Wright is also a leading authority on the Book of Common Prayer and on Russian Orthodox (and other) icons.  He is an internationally known figure in ecumenical dialogue between the Episcopal Church and other churches, particularly the Roman Catholic, Armenian Apostolic, and Russian Orthodox churches, as well as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Dr. Wright did his undergraduate work at the University of the South and received his doctorate at Oxford University.  In 2006 on the occasion of his seventieth birthday a festschrift was published: One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: Studies in Christian Ecclesiality and Ecumenism in honor of J. Robert Wright. His own most recent book, published in 2008, is A Companion to Bede, a major commentary on the ecclesiastical history of the Venerable Bede.  Dr. Wright is the president of the Anglican Society, chaplain to the Guild of Scholars of The Episcopal Church, and the Episcopal Church’s official Historiographer. In 2007, he was awarded the Archbishop of Canterbury's Cross of St. Augustine for his scholarly contributions to ecumenical dialogue.

Co-recipients of the 2010 Clement Clarke Moore Medal, Mr. David N. Redden and Mrs. Jennette Redden have given countless hours to the service of General Seminary, where they have resided since 2004. They co-chair the Chelsea Square Conservancy executive committee, which seeks to raise awareness of the beauty and importance of the Seminary’s historic home. Mrs. Redden has personally donated many years of service in the Seminary gardens, tending and planting and teaching other volunteers, as well. She has long been associated with the Garden Club of America and with the Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties. Mr. Redden has also taken a special interest in the Seminary library, providing leadership to its organization of Friends. He is Vice Chairman of Sotheby’s, where he has directed prestigious sales including that of the Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the Declaration of Independence, and the recent sale of Magna Carta for $21.3 million dollars. 

The General Theological Seminary, founded in 1817, prepares women and men for both ordained and lay ministries through a wide variety of degree and certificate programs. Its historic campus in the heart of New York City is also home to the Desmond Tutu Center, a modern, full-service conference facility. The Seminary conferred its first honorary degree in 1885. The ceremonies of Commencement, including the sections recited in Latin, were devised during this period and continue to be used today with few changes. 

# # #

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

Executive Board Recommends Actions

 



19 April 2010 -- Press Release

Executive Committee of Seminary Board Recommends New Actions


New York City – On Friday, April 16, 2010 the eleven-member Executive Committee of the General Seminary Board of Trustees met to assess developments at the Seminary since a March 29 meeting of the full Board.  The special March meeting had been called in response to trustees’ deep concerns over a financial analysis of the Seminary released earlier that month in connection with the search for a new dean and president. The present dean, the Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing, announced in December, 2009 his plans to retire.  Recommendations coming out of the April 16 meeting include leveraging the Seminary’s property assets to insure General will be able to sustain operating expenses for the foreseeable future and resuming the search for a dean and president who would serve on an interim basis.

The Rev. Canon Denis O’Pray, Board chair, in reporting on the 4/16 meeting, said that although a preliminary budget for the upcoming fiscal year reduces operating expenses by 16%, it still projects a cash shortage by mid-November, 2010. “The Executive Committee believes the first priority is to develop a source of immediate cash relief so that Seminary operations can continue and debt be serviced until a long-term strategic financial plan can be designed and implemented,” said O’Pray. “After reviewing prospects of merger or collaboration with other entities, as well as the likelihood of immediate philanthropy, the Executive Committee believes that the sale of assets may be the most reasonable source of (nearly) immediate cash. Therefore, the Committee has resolved to analyze all aspects of a potential sale of property,” O’Pray said.  The Committee also assigned members to engage representatives from other seminaries and church entities in conversations that might include consideration of financial cooperation, program collaboration, merger, or other mutually beneficial relationships.

Should the sale of assets or significant philanthropy ease the Seminary’s immediate cash shortage, O’Pray added, the longer term need to reduce the cost of debt service remains a significant challenge and must still be addressed.  

During their deliberations the Committee affirmed its gratitude to Dean Ewing for his tireless efforts to lead the Seminary through its current financial crisis, and commended his continuing pursuit of philanthropy for the Seminary.  He said the Committee would suggest that the full Board revise earlier plans to retain an interim executive and instead begin a search for an interim dean and president who, with all the constitutional authority of that office, would lead the Seminary for a period likely to be one to three years. The Committee recognized the need for flexibility in the anticipated length of the interim dean and president’s service. The expectation is that the Dean’s successor can be found in the next several months, O’Pray said.

Lastly, the Executive Committee commended a communication strategy to include the creation of a page on the GTS website called GTS Next, where all official statements will be posted

“The Executive Committee is aware of the Board’s intention to meet monthly in person or by phone until the current crisis at the Seminary is resolved,” said O’Pray. The Executive Committee will meet again on May 7, 2010.
# # #

 

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

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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