General Voices: Creating a Future - The Rev. Patricia S. Downing

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The Rev. Patricia S. Downing '95

Rector, Trinity Episcopal Parish, Wilmington, DelawareMember, Board of Trustees of The General Theological Seminary

When I was asked to run as an alumni representative to the Board of Trustees, it was right after the September chaos. I turned down the offer. I am a parish priest with all the demands of that vocation. I saw the conflict raging at the Seminary and thought, I do not need to add that to my plate. Yet as I prayed to God about the people involved and the institution itself, my mind was changed. I asked if the offer was still available and I put my name forward.

What changed my mind came from a place of deep sorrow for what I was seeing unfold and from a place of deep gratitude for the formation that I was given when I was a student, formation that has served me very well all these years. I didn't think it was right to turn away from the Seminary in this time of crisis. I feel that I have gifts which I can offer to the life and work of the Board of Trustees that might assist the Seminary in creating a future that does not repeat the past.

General Seminary has much to offer to the Church that is unique. Beyond its history and setting, it has a proven capacity to form leaders for the Church who can proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in ways that further the Kingdom of God, leaders who are steeped in the Anglican tradition, and who are agents of God's reconciling love for the world. That is General at its best. At its worst, it has the duty to model what Christian responsibility, reconciliation, and forgiveness look like. That is a work in progress. Helping the community to do this work is why I said yes, and why I continue to support the Seminary.