The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
General Seminary hosted a new student orientation last Friday, August 30 with courses beginning this Tuesday, September 3. Over 40 new students are on the Close, with 31 signing the Matriculation book. Symbolizing the formal entry into the seminary, Matriculation is scheduled for September 26 in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd at Chelsea Square. Another cohort of 11 students will take courses and participate in worship, providing them with the resources on the Close while they continue in a context of discerning and evaluating their vocational and academic gifts. Entering students, much like the leadership of the church, represent an array of interests and degree programs.
"The incoming class is a diverse one in many ways,” says Logan Nakyanzi Pollard, Admissions Director. “For example, all offered degrees programs are represented. And while many hail from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, we also have students coming to us from international contexts (Zambia, Japan, India) as well as down the eastern seaboard and from across the country: Maryland, Georgia, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin."
Affirming the new students and their vocational discernment, the Very Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle, Dean and President, said, “Some of you have received a call that was mystical; you can go to a calendar and point at the date you received it. Others have received a bit more of a ‘slow-burn’ call. One thing after another happened over a period of time, and now you are looking around and wondering how you wound up here at New Student Orientation at General Seminary. Regardless of which it is, I want for you to know something. Remember this, each one of you: your call is valid. Your call is valid.”
Students received a warm welcome from the faculty and staff on Friday, August 30. Trecia O’Sullivan, Director of Human Resources and Caitlin Stamm, Reference Librarian planned the opening reception with great care and attention to detail, leading a dedicated team of staff and current students. Activities included campus tours, introductions to faculty and staff, fellowship with current students, and exploration of New York City.
The faculty eagerly greeted their new students, offering formal introductions that explained their research and vocational interests. The Rev. Dr. Michael Battle returned the prior week from Hampton, Virginia where he offered the keynote address at the First African Landing Commemoration recognizing the first Africans brought to English North America in 1619. Battle inspired the new students with the final charge to “change the world.”
Likewise, the Rev. Dr. Julie Faith Parker introduced herself and a new course she is teaching this fall, “Reading the Bible, Experiencing the Arts, Engaging Issues of Justice,” which is made possible through a recent grant; the course combines love of the biblical text and creative arts with a passion for justice. “We will delve into the biblical text with a focus on issues such as refugees, incarceration, and genocide. Class discussion will focus on how these realities shape both the biblical world and modern society.” Included among the several field trips to museums and other artistic sites is an important visit to a local prison.
During the sermon of the first Eucharist of the academic term, Dunkle encouraged the entering student to meditate on a stained glass window outside the sacristy that offers a rendering of Christ knocking on a door without an outer handle, inviting the students to imagine how they are being called and what might be waiting for them on the other side of the door.
Emphasizing the importance of remaining open and attune to the Spirit’s movement in the formation process at seminary, he continued: “Imagine what you will be able to do when you leave this place. Not just with a degree from General Seminary, but also with the power of the Holy Spirit. Imagine.”
All are welcomed to attend Matriculation Homecoming on Thursday September 26. Registration information is below.