Summers at General 2016


The General Theological Seminary is now accepting registrations for exciting courses to be offered in the Summer 2016 term and especially welcomes General Learners to become part of the seminary community. You can learn more and register 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, the 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-Thursday, June 13-23, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.


Drawing upon the rich resources of the Christian contemplative tradition, this course examines closely different kinds of contemplative practices with the aim of increasing openness to the way God’s Spirit is active in the hearts of both spiritual directors and those whom they companion in the spiritual life. Students will experience and develop an ability to guide others in stillness and movement practices, spiritual practices that tap into creativity and generative processes, ritual/cyclical practices, and relational practices. The pedagogy will include role-playing of spiritual teaching and contemplative practices. Underlying the course will be the conviction that ministries of spiritual direction, guidance or companionship are a form of prayer grounded in the spiritual lives of those who offer these ministries.

Adj. Prof. Westina Matthews. 1 credit or audit.June 6-8, Monday and Tuesday, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. and Wednesday 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.


Wandering—whether in the form of exploration, travel, or for the sake of God—was an early medieval (600-1000 CE) reality. Our course will honor that: we will wander through prayers, meditations, Saint’s Lives, sermons, carvings, drawings, poems, and historical writings from the early Middle Ages. It was a creative era (the letters you are reading right now were invented by early medieval monks), dynamic (this was the era when the bold and powerful Christus Victor dominated the Christian imagination and theology), and yet prayerful (this was the age when the monastery was the healthiest place you could find, and when the life of meditation and prayer was actively sought by everyone from cowherds to Queens). Each student will choose a special road to explore, read, look and pray his or her way along that road with the guidance of the professor, and create a semester-sized (about 20 pages) project or paper that expresses the results of that journey.

Prof. Clair McPherson. 3 credits or audit. Two Weeks: June 13-23, Monday-Thursday, 1:30-5:30 p.m.


Adj. Prof. Alina N. Feld. 3 credits or audit. June 6-10, July 11-15, 18-19, 2016. 11:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

An introduction to the classic Christian doctrines concerning God, the Incarnation, the Trinity, Crucifixion and Resurrection, Sin and Redemption, and Eschatology. Students will be invited to explore foundational ideas, texts, and figures in the history of Christian theology. The course will provide an opportunity to reflect on how theological doctrines relate to our own understanding and experience of the divine, sense of the sacred, fundamental values, and ultimate meaning of existence.


Prof. Todd Brewer. 1 credit or audit. July 25-28, Monday-Thursday, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m.

Paul was, first and foremost, an evangelist and preacher of the Gospel. The sermon is at the heart of Paul’s missionary activity and church planting. This course explores the various ways in which the fall readings of the RCL, Year C, might be preached today. How do Paul’s concerns and theological vision, as expressed in the “Pauline” letters of 1 and 2 Timothy, 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon, connect with our modern lives and society? What criticisms might they offer?