Theological Education Sunday: A NYC Parish, and the Rev. Denise LaVetty, Celebrate GTS


Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?

In 1999, The Episcopal Church established Theological Education Sunday as a day for thanksgiving and celebration of those who seek to strengthen their faith through study and for those whose ministry is providing Christian education, whether in the home, preschool programs, parishes, colleges, universities, and seminaries. Although officially the first Sunday of February, Theological Education Sunday is traditionally observed on any Sunday in the Ordinary season following The Epiphany. On Sunday, January 20, the parish church of St. John's in the Village, Manhattan, marked Theological Education Sunday, as it has for many years, with special focus on General Seminary.

The rector of the parish is the Rev. Lloyd E. Prator, who cares about theological education. He serves as an adjunct professor in liturgy for General, specializing in the pastoral dimension of liturgy and public worship, and 25 years ago, when he first became rector of St. John's, completed the Center for Christian Spirituality's spiritual direction program.

St. John's offered prayers for General, dedicated its offertory collection as a financial gift to the seminary, and welcomed the Rev. K. Jeanne Person, Director of the Center for Christian Spirituality, to speak with parishioners after worship.

Also, the Rev. Deacon Denise LaVetty, who will earn her Master of Arts degree this May after years of part-time study at General, praised the seminary in her sermon on the gospel story of the Wedding at Cana for being a place of deep transformation for all who study there. Below are excerpts from her sermon.

Just a zip-code away from here is a city block of historic landmark buildings. It is General Theological Seminary, and today we are observing Theological Education Sunday and seeking support for this institution. There are many people studying there, going through an incredible transformation. They are the future of our Church, and in helping to support them, we are helping to enable renewal and transformation in our Church.

I began studying at General in 2006 before I even discerned becoming a Deacon. I began taking courses in the evening while working full-time.  I took one course at a time and really didn’t think too much about studying for a degree. But then I got hooked and began taking courses for credit. Once I began the formation program to become a Deacon, I continued on at General, by this time as a real matriculated student working toward a Masters in Christian Spirituality. I am finally scheduled to graduate this May, and I am the self-appointed poster child for part-time study. I’m actually not very excited finally to graduate as I will really miss the wonderful people and the spiritually enriching, absolutely superb lectures and programs.

And so I want you to know that this seminary, this wonderful piece of history in the midst of us, is there for you, too. Not just to train and develop priests to serve and uplift our Church, but as a resource for everyone who wants to take advantage of it. Part of a continually renewed and transformed faith is the desire to continue to learn and grow, and the seminary has some really great offerings for lay people. It’s a whole other aspect of General Seminary you should be aware of. We’re never finished learning and growing ,and this type of study, at a seminary, can stimulate our souls and keep our faith alive and exciting. So, if you have ever thought about a learning experience in a seminary environment, perhaps your hour has come.

Let’s not be stagnant. Let’s keep it fresh, keep it renewed, keep it transformed. Our hour is ever present.

Emptiness to water…water to wine…wine to the blood of Christ… the blood of Christ to salvation… salvation to everlasting life.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.