A Message from Dean Dunkle


Dear all: Rather than a long missive this time, I wanted to quickly highlight a few current matters of great importance. Editorial importance, that is.

Some of you have noticed we dropped the hoary, cumbersome salutation of "alumni/ae" in favor of the more modern "alumni" to apply to all our beloved graduates. While the gender-specific based greeting is linguistically correct, scores of colleges, universities, seminaries, and kindergartens now default to the all-inclusive "alumni." So, no one is being left out; General is just moving into the 21st Century.

Another century-skipping move is a personal quest.

We simply should not use church-words which no one else understands. Worse yet, we should not use church-words which have inverse meanings depending on which side of the altar rail you stand. "Solemn" is one of those words.

While the church has recognized this as a description of important occasions and great festivities for millennia, no one else does! No one says, "Hey, it's Bob's 21st birthday; let's throw a solemn surprise party for him." To most English speakers, "solemn" means serious and often sad. Frowny faces and dower looks. No wonder our "Solemn Eucharists" are misunderstood.

So, at General we have excised the word "solemn" from our vocabulary. We are firmly planting our cross in the modern (and understandable) era. So, from henceforth, all generations shall call it "Festive."

Feast days have Festive Evensongs. The October 17 installation will be a Festive Eucharist. We Episcopalians need to proclaim to the world that Christmas and Easter are Festive, not Solemn, occasions. So, as the past 196 years has shown, change for our denomination frequently starts at General. I hope we will start a vocabulary movement which will encompass the entire Episcopal Church. No small goal!

That's it for this week. See you in Chapel... perhaps for a Festive liturgy!

The Very Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle Dean and President | The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church