The Newness of New

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The Very Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle

Dean and President

There is an odd feeling in schools every fall. Autumn brings a climate which speaks of slowness and preparation for winter. But, schools around the world begin anew, awash with freshness and hope for the coming year. How Anglican—how both/and!

General Seminary is experiencing that sense of both/and right now. Emerging from a turbulent year, we, too, are experiencing that freshness and hope for the new year. This 198th year is an exciting time to be at General.

During Orientation Week in late August, we welcomed 14 new students into various degree programs. While not the largest entering class ever, neither is it the smallest. Representing a wide diversity of all expressions of our Anglican faith, the entering class also represents a growing trend: half are non-residential commuters. Also representing the historic diversity of General Seminary’s place in the Anglican Communion, some are from foreign countries: Haiti, Barbados and Kenya. General’s entering class this year is truly general.

We are grateful for the continued financial support of General Seminary. When we say “thank you,” we mean “Thank You!”  This past fiscal year we were able to meet our annual giving goal, and you can read a breakdown of all our revenue sources in the Report of Gifts. You are making a difference in the reformation of theological education—not only at General Seminary, but throughout our church.

Classes have begun and we continue to refine our Wisdom curriculum in imaginative ways. For example, this semester “Introduction to Pastoral Counseling” is being team-taught by noted psychologist and counseling professor, Dr. Gary Ahlskog, and equally noted and experienced pastor, priest and author, the Rev. Barbara Crafton. Decades of experience and wisdom are teaming up to offer students truly integrated education in the same team-teaching of “Philosophy for Theology,” by the Rev. Dr. Clair McPherson and Dr. Alina Feld. Foundational and elective courses continue to be offered and new one-credit, week-long Wisdom Year intensives are increasing from last year.

The Wisdom Year is also expanding. From a pilot pair of seniors, the program grows this year to 100% of graduating seniors and one additional S.T.M. student, who is returning specifically for the intense immersion experience of a Wisdom Year residency. Churches from the dioceses of New Jersey, Newark, New York, and Connecticut are eager participants. With the arrival of the Rev. Emily Wachner as the Director of Integrative Programs, one of the chief development tasks of this year is to ensure that almost 20 Wisdom Year residency sites for next year’s seniors, and those who will come to General specifically for this curacy-like experience, are available The Wisdom Year distinguishes General Seminary as a place of superior education and formation for church leadership.

General Seminary’s rich tradition of said and sung Morning Prayer and Evensong, together with community Eucharists, continues. While embracing our past, we are expanding into a new area of student-designed and executed services twice a week. Monday morning Eucharist is the subject of a one-credit practicum, “Setting the Table,” with affiliated liturgics faculty member, the Rev. Dr. Kevin Moroney, and Evening Prayer on Friday afternoon is being designed and led by all of the entering students. This may be a first for General Seminary. Formation in chapel takes many paths, and deeper student involvement in the planning and execution of worship is a key component to exercising a liturgical life grounded in history and lived out in joy for future church leadership.

The Alumni Gathering and Paddock Lectures on November 4 and 5 will feature new professors, the Rev. Drs. Michael Battle and Todd Brewer, each speaking on a common topic, but from their own unique academic perspectives. The lectures are titled The Goodness of Upheaval: Pauline and Apocalyptic Perspectives. That Wednesday evening there will also be a festive Evensong to honor the almost 40 years of David Hurd’s ministry to General Seminary and The Episcopal Church. We have something special for David that evening; I hope you can join us.

We are also getting our fiscal house in order. Even with a fully loaded budget (salaries, benefits, operational expenses, etc.), we have reduced our operating deficit by almost 75% over a two-year period. This is incredible progress, but the work is not yet finished. We must come to equilibrium, as the finance professionals say, in short order. Your continued support and embrace of General Seminary’s fiscal health for this essential work is important and appreciated. Thank you, again.

These both/and times at General Seminary live out our rich Anglican heritage. We are neither blind to the past nor ignorant of the unknowns of the future. As we continue to embrace each in preparation for our 200th anniversary in two years, I look forward to our continued growth together.

Thank you, all.

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