Spencer Cantrell, M.Div. '18, represented the General Theological Seminary at this year's Episcopal Evangelism Society Seminarian Leadership Conference, held on September 22-24 at Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) in Berkeley, California. The location of the conference, which takes place annually, rotates throughout the seminaries of the Episcopal Church, creating opportunities for seminarians across the church to connect and share their experiences and journeys toward ministry and leadership in the church and in the world.
Much of this year's conference program was an immersion in the local context in which seminarians at CDSP are currently being educated and formed -- particularly areas in and around San Francisco and Oakland which are rapidly gentrifying due primarily to the rise of the Silicon Valley tech industry.
Participants spent time visiting Episcopal Community Services (ECS) of San Francisco, a longstanding and vital network of shelters and resource centers working to enable those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to regain their stability and dignity. Participants also spent time at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, learning about the rugged origins and history of the Episcopal Diocese of California, as well as more recently the role of the cathedral in welcoming and serving the local LGBTQ community, especially from the AIDS crisis of the 1980s to the present.
"My big take away from the gathering," said Cantrell, "is that much of what has divided us as seminarians and Episcopalians across the church over the past few years, I am excited to report, is largely behind us. My sense is that our calls are grounded in a real, abiding hope for the future, and in excitement about the all diverse ways God will use us in this new season."