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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.
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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.

Summers at General 2010

17 March 2010

 

"Summers at General" Offers Unique Learning Opportunities

 

New York City – The General Seminary’s Summers at General program includes a fascinating array of six summer courses, each one week long, enabling participants to explore their faith and expand their theological understanding while enjoying the beauty of the Seminary’s landmarked campus in the heart of the Big Apple.  These courses may be taken at a special summer rate of $400 with no fees, or they may be taken for graduate-level credit at regular tuition rates.  Accommodations are available on campus in the Desmond Tutu Center.  Registration can be done online.  Click on the large "Summers" button on the home page of www.gts.edu

••• Miriam, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Jesus are only a few of the Marys that have shaped Christian prayer for centuries. You can join a noted expert on women in the Bible, GTS Professor of New Testament Deirdre Good, along with Director of General’s Center for Christian Spirituality, the Rev. Jeanne Person, for Praying with Mary: a Practicum.  Participants will explore the origins of the figure of Mary in the Christian tradition and explore both ancient and contemporary ways of praying with her as prophet, teacher, contemplative, mystic, and visionary. Participants will experience and reflect on a variety of prayer practices including the rosary, listening to Miriam-Mary music and praying with art at the Metropolitan Museum. $400 or choose 3 credits.  Offered through the seminary's Center for Christian Spirituality.  (Monday, May 24-28, course AT345)

••• Nearly 2,800 years ago a herdsman from the Kingdom of Judah appeared at a sanctuary of the Kingdom of Israel and began to prophesy to the inhabitants of that kingdom. Thus began a process that culminated in what we now know as the Book of Amos. Join GTS Professor Emeritus Richard W. Corney for Two Years Before the Earthquake: From Amos the Prophet to Amos the Book for an exploration of why Amos’ words were preserved and how they were applied to later generations by the compilers of the Book of Amos. $400 or choose 1 credit. (Tuesday, June 1-4, course OT80)

••• General Seminary’s Dean and President Ward B. Ewing, a Class A (non-alcoholic) trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous, has followed its famous 12-step precepts in his own life for the past 40 years. He notes, “The spirituality of the Twelve Steps has offered me strength, flexibility and openness to God in my practical living.” Join Dean Ewing and the Seminary’s Chaplain, the Rev. Dr. Stuart Hoke, for Twelve Step Spirituality and learn how the steps can provide a guide for spiritual health and growth for people in all walks of life.  $400 or choose 2 or 3 credits.  Offered through the seminary's Center for Christian Spirituality.
  (Monday, June 7-11, course AT80)

••• "Contemplative prayer is a grace-filled attentiveness to God that initiates and sustains a change of consciousness, leading to deepening love of God and neighbor,” says GTS Adjunct Professor David Keller. Join him this summer for Contemplative Prayer: a Practicum and explore the necessity of intentional daily experience of God as a fundamental source of spiritual discernment, vision and energy for our lives. Participants will develop a design for sharing contemplative prayer in a parish or other institutional setting. $400 or choose 3 credits.  Offered through the seminary's Center for Christian Spirituality.  Co-sponsored by the Contemplative Ministry Project.
 
(Monday, June 14-18, course AT322)

••• Since the founding of Trinity Church in 1696, sacred spaces of Episcopal congregations have been key elements in the religious environment of New York City. In Churches as History: The Episcopal Church in New York City,  Dr. Ronald Young, Adjunct Professor at GTS, will be your expert guide to understanding the varied histories of seven Episcopal churches throughout city, each of which will be visited and toured.  Although diverse in character, heritage, and mission, together they provide a lens to examine and understand key themes and trends in American religious history and, in particular, the history of the Episcopal Church.  $400 or choose 2 or 3 credits.  (Monday, June 21-25, course CH60)

••• Known to generations of General Seminary students, senior Professor J. Robert Wright is the author or editor of seventeen books and over 170 essays and articles. Historiographer of the Episcopal Church and past president of the North American Academy of Ecumenists, Prof. Wright offers Ecumenism and Anglicanism on the High Line.  The course focuses on Anglican/Episcopal relations with the Eastern, Roman, and Lutheran churches, on the proposed Anglican Covenant and on churches that have broken away owing to past and recent controversies. A key question for the course is “Wherein does Anglican unity consist?”  The course will be taught, in part, from the perspective of the High Line, the newly opened and immensely popular elevated park running along the Seminary’s western border.  $400 or choose 3 credits.  (Monday, June 28-July 20, course CH70)

In addition to these courses, the Summers at General program includes daily worship opportunities in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, and, starting in July, Pilgrimage: Sacred Sites of New York,  offered through Journeys Unlimited New York and the Seminary’s Desmond Tutu Center, a 60-room conference and guest facility on the GTS campus. New York City in the summer is an international center of cultural, intellectual, and leisure-time activities.

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Media Contact:
Bruce Parker
Executive Director of Communications
The General Theological Seminary
175 Ninth Ave. New York, NY 10011
(212) 243-5150 x285
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Congratulations to Mark Richardson

16 March 2010

 

Dean Ward Ewing Offers Congratulations to Prof. Mark Richardson

New York City – The Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing, Dean and President of The General Theological Seminary has offered the Rev. Dr. W. Mark Richardson, Professor of Systematic Theology at GTS, his warmest congratulations on being elected President and Dean of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, a seminary of the Episcopal Church in Berkeley, California. CDSP’s Board of Trustees announced the decision in a March 11 press release.


“While our immediate response is one of sadness that Mark and his wife Brenda will be leaving General Seminary, we offer him congratulations and pledge our prayers for his successful ministry,” Dean Ewing said in a message to GTS faculty and students. The Dean called Professor Richardson “a fine teacher, a brilliant scholar, and a splendid colleague.” He added that Professor Richardson will be completing the present term at GTS and that a farewell event would be announced in the near future. The CDSP release reported that he will take up his duties there on July 1, 2010.

Professor Richardson joined the GTS faculty and began teaching systematic theology at GTS in September of 1999 following a nine-year ministry at the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, where he had been responsible for program, operations, and publications.  At General, he continued his scholarly interests in the relationship between science, philosophy and theology, his wide-ranging expertise expanding study options for all GTS students.  In addition to his annual course offerings in systematic theology and the relationship between philosophy and theology, he created and taught new courses on divine and human agency, Christology, the Trinity, Eschatology, Soteriology, and connections between theology and the theory of evolution. His far-reaching professional activities often resulted in his bringing speakers from around the globe to the GTS campus. His chairing of two weeklong Science and the Spiritual Quest conferences held at General (a project of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences) resulted in a series of lectures by internationally renowned scholars on the intersection of emerging sciences and theology.


In addition to his teaching duties at GTS, Prof. Richardson served on the seminary’s Leadership Team, a group of senior administrators charged with advising the Dean on significant matters in the life of the school.
 
 

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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.

Dean Ewing Announces Retirement Plans

 

10 December 2009

General Seminary Will Begin Search for 13th Dean and President
 

 

New York City –  The Very Rev. Ward Burleson Ewing, Twelfth Dean and President of the General Theological Seminary, has asked the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees to begin the search for his successor as leader of the 192-year-old institution, the oldest seminary of the Episcopal Church.  “I expect to continue until such time that a successor has been hired and an appropriate transition accomplished,” the Dean said in an open letter to the Seminary community sent on December 9 following the meeting with the Executive Committee.  A search committee for the Dean’s successor will be chaired by GTS trustee Dr. Michael Gilligan. A meeting is scheduled for January 8 at which plans will be finalized for the selection process.

 

In explaining the timing of his decision the Dean, aged 67, cited three recent developments that have had a very positive impact on the life of the school.  In August the Seminary successfully refinanced all of its debt. In November, after a long and difficult application period, the Seminary received the necessary approvals from the city to operate its Desmond Tutu Center as a hotel and to rent guest rooms to the public when they are not being used for Seminary conferences; the sizable revenues from this are a critical component for future operating expenses and debt service.  Lastly, receipt of two major gifts from Polly Keller Winter and her son, Christoph Keller, III, together with a sizable grant from the William Woods Foundation, will enable the Seminary to complete a new library and to fund a new professorship in Christian Education.  The Dean characterized the developments as important milestones in the Seminary achieving financial stability. These accomplishments are the capstone of an eleven year tenure with a long line of institutional advances.

“Ward Ewing’s deanship has been remarkable for the lasting contributions he has made to creating  a vibrant and strong General Seminary as it enters its third century,” said Board of Trustees Chairman the Rev.
Canon Denis M. O’Pray at the conclusion of the Executive Committee’s meeting.  O’Pray pointed out that, since assuming the leadership role in 1998, the Dean has overseen a comprehensive restoration and refurbishing of the eighteen historic buildings on the seminary’s Manhattan campus, the creation of a full-service conference facility with 60 guest rooms, and an innovative geothermal energy initiative, one of the largest in the Northeast.  Dean Ewing brought information technology to the campus, overseeing the creation of its first local area network, smart classrooms, digital phone system, and computerized registration and accounting systems. All totaled, $60 million were devoted to improving and preserving the Seminary’s landmarked campus.  Annual giving and major gifts to the Seminary rose remarkably during the Dean’s tenure and the development of new program offerings, particularly for lay persons, was high on his agenda and yielded impressive results.



Visionary Stewardship of an Historic Campus

“When Ward arrived in 1998 the shell of many of our buildings were in such disrepair that several might have soon become uninhabitable,” O’Pray explained.  Re-pointing the brick and new slate roofs of the properties cost nearly $20 million. Twelve of the buildings received complete interior re-modeling. Three dormitories entered the 21st century with full scale makeovers. The school’s beloved refectory, called one of the most beautiful spaces in Manhattan, had its barrel vault ceiling painstakingly restored.  The resulting savings in annual maintenance costs were enormous, plunging from over 40% of the operating budget in 1998 to less than 23% today.  After months of persistent searching yielded a fruitful partnership with a major developer, the Dean oversaw replacement of the Seminary’s aging Sherrill Hall on Ninth Avenue with a new building that houses a modern library as well as income-producing co-op apartments.  In 2005, the Dean developed a plan for three historic but under-utilized buildings on Tenth Avenue to become the Desmond Tutu Center, which includes 60 three-star guest rooms as well as state-of-the-art conference facilities. As energy costs for the Seminary’s block-wide campus began to soar, the Dean urged the Seminary to follow the path of environmental responsibility, resulting in a model geothermal heating and cooling system that now serves the Tutu Center and several dormitories and will eventually serve the entire campus.

Squarely Facing Economic Challenges

During an unprecedented downturn in the national economy, with its severe challenges to philanthropy, the Dean built a remarkably successful development team at the Seminary.  The Leaders for the Church capital campaign (2005-07) was the largest in the Seminary’s history, starting with a goal of $15 million and eventually raising over $19 million. General’s annual fund, about $300,000 at the beginning the Ewing tenure, climbed to annual figures over the $800,000 mark and finally concluded last year with the highest amount of giving every achieved, over $1 million. In the year 2009 alone, giving by GTS alumni/ae was doubled, making General a leader among Episcopal seminaries.  The Dean has personally secured many gifts from major donors including $1 million for a scholarship fund and $5 million for the new library.

Significant Program Advancements

Preservation of the Seminary’s campus and achieving financial stability, Dean Ewing realized, would be meaningless if there were not concurrent advancements in the Seminary’s program offerings and the contributions GTS was making to the wider Church. Early in his deanship a new mission statement was developed for GTS, one that unhesitatingly embraced the reality of change, identifying General as “an Episcopal institution called to educate and form leaders for the church in a changing world.” When that change involved an increased focus on lay ministry in the church, Dean Ewing responded with an expanded M.A. degree program and an increased effort to recruit part-time and commuter students, most of whom were called to ministry as lay persons. When the need for a place for short-term conferences as well as major symposia became clear, the Dean responded by initiating plans for the Tutu Center, which later drew international figures such as Desmond Tutu, John Danforth, Carol Moseley Braun, and E.J. Dionne and elicited national news coverage by PBS. When the brokenness of the world called the church to increased involvement in issues of justice and world peace, the Center for Peace and Reconciliation was created at the Tutu Center. In response to the needs of continuing education for alumni/ae, Dean Ewing’s leadership initiated the Center for Lifelong Learning for the nurture and growth of ordained persons at every stage in their ministry.  The Seminary’s centermost program, the education and formation of the church’s future clergy, continues as a major focus of the school.  The overall enrollment rose from over 100 at the beginning of the Dean’s tenure to a present headcount of over 200 students.  

Service to the City and the World

Early in Ward Ewing’s deanship,the life of New York City and the nation came to a standstill with the events of September 11, 2001.  Emails poured in from throughout the Anglican Communion from alumni/ae and friends of GTS worried about how the attack had affected the Seminary and whether any in the community had been hurt (they had not). Many students, staff, and faculty were already in the midst of doing their part to aid the recovery effort. General Seminary became the nerve center, clearing house, and depot for coordinating the dissemination of food and supplies donated by churches for workers at Ground Zero. The Dean himself made many of the trips back and forth in his red VW van. While the nightly homeless shelter at GTS and later the St. Martin’s Clothes Closet are student-run ministries, they were created in response to the Dean’s personal example of Christian service to the larger community. 

Dean Ewing came to GTS
in April of 1998
after thirty-one years as a pastor whose ministry was marked by a combination of scholarly pursuits and pastoral abilities. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Trinity College (1964) and first in his class at General Seminary (1967), Dean Ewing is a respected author and teacher, and a much sought-after speaker and conference leader.  Along with a number of articles, he has published two books: Job: A Vision of God (1976) and The Power of the Lamb: Revelation=s Theology of Liberation for You (1990). These achievements are complemented by a distinguished record of institutional service. Since 2004 he has served as a Class A (non-alcoholic) trustee for Alcoholics Anonymous and in May of 2008 was elected national Chair of the organization’s General Service Board.  He currently serves as Convener of the Council of Deans of all the Episcopal seminaries.  

In the small amount of free time his ministry affords, the Dean is a master woodworker and has created many pieces of beautiful furniture.  He and his wife Jenny Ewing, both natives of Tennessee, look forward to transitioning to a new life at the Ewing family homestead in a rural community known as Ten Mile.  Mrs. Ewing has had a longtime ministry at GTS as proprietor of the General Store, the outlet for attractive items bearing the Seminary’s logo. The couple has three grown children and three grandchildren.  “This has truly been a team effort; there are so many who have contributed to the health of this Seminary,” said the Dean.  “I give thanks to God that I have had the privilege of walking with so many others who are committed to the mission and health of this school.  And I am not done yet!”


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Media Contact:
Bruce Parker
Executive Director of Communications
The General Theological Seminary
175 Ninth Ave. New York, NY 10011
(212) 243-5150 x285
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Ted Gerbracht is GTS Senior Vice President

14 December 2009

 

General Seminary Welcomes Ted Gerbracht as Senior Vice President

 

New York City – When Frederick W. “Ted” Gerbracht took up his new job as the chief academic officer at General Seminary in early November, it was clear that his academic credentials were impressive:  an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth, three master’s degrees (Asian Studies, History, and Business Administration), and a Ph. D. in History from New York University.  Equally well suited to his new job is his depth of experience in the Episcopal Church. For ten years he served as treasurer of the Diocese of Long Island and he has had an equally long tenure as a member of General’s Board of Trustees and as the Seminary’s treasurer—positions from which he recently resigned in order to join the GTS staff. Gerbracht has served on Long Island’s Diocesan Council and as a trustee of its estate endowment.  He is also a member of the Chinese Convocation of the Episcopal AsiaAmerica Ministries Consultation which provides scholarships for theological education.  A lifelong resident of Long Island, Gerbracht  is an active member of  St. Jude’s Church, and teaches the history of Christianity at the Diocese’s education center, the Mercer School of Theology.

 

But for all his academic and church experience, Gerbracht’s new job as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs is very much a second career. For 39 years he worked in the information technology area of the banking industry, retiring in mid-2006 from Credit Suisse, where he managed a staff of over 50 and an annual budget of $16 million.  Earlier in his career, staffs of up to 250 reported to Gerbracht and the budgets he managed topped $100 million.  In addition to Credit Suisse, his resume details high level positions at Merrill Lynch and Chase Manhattan Bank.  For all three corporate giants, Gerbracht’s specialty was information technology management, but even this work was intertwined with education. “As an executive I was still a teacher and mentor to those who worked for me,” says Gerbracht. “The enterprise of education has been always central to my work life.”

 

At GTS Gerbracht will support the faculty by providing key administrative functions, including oversight of the academic office, support for curriculum development, recruitment and oversight of adjunct faculty, administration of the academic budget, and the development of new academic programs. While a member of the Board of Trustees, Gerbracht served pro bono as Special Assistant to the Dean charged with the creation of new short-term courses at GTS. “We will miss Ted on our Board,” said the Seminary’s Dean, the Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing, “but I am delighted he accepted this new position, where I know he will contribute in even more significant ways.”

 

“I owe the beginning of my love for General to my daughter,” said Gerbracht, speaking of the Rev. Marjorie Gerbracht-Stagnaro, a 1995 GTS graduate who now serves as a school chaplain in Washington, D.C. “Through Marjorie I came to know and love the Seminary, and to have high regard for its faculty and programs.  After my first ‘retirement’ in 2000, I offered my services to Dean Ewing, and I have been fully committed to the Seminary ever since.”  Gerbracht and his wife June have three other grown children and five grandchildren—one of the reasons he is on campus only four days a week.  

 

 

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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.

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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