Summers at General 2015


The General Theological Seminary is now accepting registrations for exciting courses to be offered in the Summer 2015 term and especially welcomes General Learners to become part of the seminary community. To learn more and register, click here.

General Learners are students who are not pursuing a formal degree and who take courses to learn more about their faith, to enhance their ministry or prayer, or to delve into a theological topic. They include alumni, faith leaders seeking ministerial development, people discerning new calls to ministry, people discovering a religious commitment, young and young-at-heart wishing to try graduate-level studies, and individuals seeking spiritual growth through learning. Especially during the summer months, when courses are designed in varying day/time formats to meet busy schedules and invite travel to New York City, General Learners can study alongside seminarians, gain familiarity with the Seminary's library, and experience the gift of theological education.


In this foundational course, the classical texts of Christian spirituality are explored, with lectures and discussions grounded in biblical, historical and theological perspectives, as well as experiences in meditation and prayer based on the readings. Integrating theory and praxis, both critical thought and spiritual growth are pursued. The syllabus includes integral works by such Christian writers as Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus, the Cappadocians, the Latin Fathers (and Mothers) as well as the Desert Dwellers, the medieval mystics and teachers, Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, through to modern searchers such as Simone Weil. There will also be frequent reference to the expression of spirituality through the arts of poetry, visual art, and music.

Prof. Clair McPherson. 3 credits or audit. Two weeks: Monday-Friday, June 1-5 and 8-12, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.


Some assume that a “children’s sermon” should be a simplified version of what we preach to adults, but that is precisely wrong. A sermon directed toward children should actually be an amplified version of what we might preach to adults. Little children are holy. They are already ready for the kingdom, and we adults, lay and ordained, had better serve them well – and speak to them in a way that honors and respects them.

The course will explore many ways to do this: stories, humor, cartoons, maps for older children (we’ll distinguish several age groups, Pre-K – Middle School), music, games, all the while staying close to the readings the whole Church hears. We’ll look at how to teach and preach challenging scripture readings. We’ll also work on ethical issues that affect children, and how we can deal with those helpfully in lessons and sermons.

Prof. Clair McPherson. 2 credits. Two weeks: Monday-Friday, June 1-5, and Monday-Thursday, June 8-11, 2:00-5:00 p.m.


Brief periods of structured time apart from the busy pace of daily life are increasingly popular in parishes. Topics in this course will include different retreat formats in relation to audience and context; the power of silence; the writing and offering of meditations; techniques for guiding interactions; and the purpose of a leader’s individual conversations with retreatants. The Saturday session will be a Quiet Day at the seminary, led by Prof. Crafton and open to the public. After-class work will consist of developing a plan for an actual retreat or Quiet Day that the student may lead in the future.

Adj. Prof. Barbara Crafton. 3 credits or audit. One Week: June 15-20, Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. and Saturday 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.


What does it mean to be present to each other as spiritual companions? How can the telephone, the web, social media, email, and Skype be used for spiritual encounter and community? What advantages do these media offer us in developing spiritual community, and how are they inadequate?

This course will explore the use of digital media in spiritual community and practice. During the first week of the course we will meet solely by digital means using video, Skype, teleconference, email, and Facebook, while the second week we will meet on campus. We will explore how we are present to each other through spiritual practices such as lectio divina, centering prayer, group spiritual direction, intercessory prayer, pastoral care, and worship in traditional formats, and experience such practices via digital means. We will examine how digital media enable us to create community in new and creative ways for the populations in our specific ministries.

This class will be useful to those who are interested in using digital media in ministry, as well as those who are not particularly attracted to digital media but would like to learn more about using digital media as a spiritual investigative tool. We will also explore the more troubling uses of digital media in our culture and the ways in which we may be called upon to lead and guide others in their use of digital media.

Adj. Prof. Lindsay Boyer. 2 credits. Two Weeks: Monday-Thursday, July 13-16 (meeting digitally), 7:00-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, July 20-23 (meeting on campus), 7:00-9:30 p.m. Additional digital hours will be determined by the professor.