The Rev. Margaret Muncie '74
Member, Board of Trustees The General Theological Seminary
Dean Dunkle asked Bruce Garner and me to serve as “ad hoc” reporters for this meeting of our Board. I am not sure what that means, as ad hoc, per definition, refers to a “special purpose.” In this sense I assume it is to be from the perspective of a new board member listening and learning at her second meeting.
As I entered this meeting I noted a good attendance and welcomes of collegiality. Bible study led by Bishop Sauls began our day. Verses 15-18 of John 21 hold the word, love; used three times, twice as agape and once as filia. This word was the focus of what appeared to be all small group discussions. Most groups interpreted agape as love within the community, the bond one to another of common humanity. Filial love was interpreted as love where the individual is stretched to work and form relationships. Filial love can be seen as how the Christian is called to form a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Did this lesson set the tone for our meeting? In my heart, perhaps, it did. I found myself engaging the kind Tim Boggs, who sat next to me and graciously pulled my chair out for me. I confess to skipping chapel, in favor of spending time with a board member I had hoped to meet, Elizabeth Geitz. I had an everyday discussion on the virtues of swimming with Bishop Sutton. I shared ideas with Michael DeLashmutt on pastoral counseling and chaplaincy programs. He listened openly and attentively. Five women board members were slow to leave a session, bonding over an item of business. Small group bible study and committee work enhanced relationship-building. Engaging, reaching out, deepening relationships—yes, this is where the Bible study led me. Building relationships is an art. Relationship-building presents demands from both parties; it is an exploration, a bit of risk-taking, but, in the end, the rewards are great. I am convinced that good relationships—respectful and open relationships—among board members are essential for an effective working board.
Another observation that struck me was when the Dean mentioned that Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services were held in the chapel for the first time in many years. The dinosaur in me was thrown back to my GTS time when the Holy Week Triduum culminated in a glorious Easter Vigil, the paschal candle lit and bells rung, first Eucharist of Easter raising a chalice at midnight, followed by the community gathering for a feast and to celebrate. I can still see Prof. Pierson Parker, atop a table, hearing him leading a rousing chorus of “You Can’t Get to Heaven on Roller Skates.”
Issues around the restoration of the Chapel, the 200th Anniversary celebration, the options for continued life and health and the institutional advancement of my GTS all blend together. Why? Because each issues separately and united speak to resilience and sustainability of GTS.
The board meeting for me did not end with Bishop Daniels blessing. The meeting ended as I processed at Commencement with my board colleagues, honorees and graduates. In the chapel I had an intangible sense of hope, inspired by the mystery of the Holy Spirit, that all in this place were focused on the common good and the future of the Seminary. There are different paths to explore. Not all parties, board members, alumni, deans, faculty, and students may agree on the same path. There will be risk-taking, exploration, leveraging, pushing the envelope, transformation and change. I sense, I pray the Board remains open to this journey.