Welcome & Orientation Weekend kicked off on Thursday August 30th with worship, food, and fellowship in Chelsea Square. In a hot, but spirit-filled Chapel of the Good Shepherd, the Very Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle, '04, Dean and President, welcomed the students who chose General Seminary for the next step in their theological education. From as far away as Japan and China, and as close as West 23 Street, the new students sat in communion together for the first time.
General is thrilled to welcome the Rev. Dr. Julie Faith Parker to our faculty as Associate Professor of Biblical Studies. She comes most recently from teaching the Old Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. However, her extensive education has spanned a considerable range of places, from upstate New York (B.A., Hamilton College) to Paris (studying art history) to Manhattan (M.Div., Union Theological Seminary) to Central America (studying liberation theology) to Connecticut (S.T.M., Ph.D., Yale University), and now to Chelsea Square.
The Rev. Valerie Bailey Fischer, Th.D. candidate and Teaching Assistant in Anglican Studies and Church History, has been appointed as the next Chaplain at Williams College. She will begin her position in July.
While at General, Bailey Fischer launched The Good Shepherd Children’s Atrium Project, a program providing Christian Formation for children at General and its wider community, as well as a formative experience for seminarians who are interested in leading similar ministries. The curriculum in use, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, is more than 50 years old and based on the Montessori principle of inspiring the child’s “inner teacher” to explore materials in a child-oriented environment.
Bailey Fischer is currently serving as priest associate at Calvary Episcopal Church in Summit, N.J. She has more than 11 years of college chaplaincy experience and nearly a decade in ordained ministry.
Raised in West Philadelphia in an African American Pentecostal tradition, Bailey Fischer participated in several other Protestant traditions before joining the Episcopal Church as a young adult. She received her B.A. from Penn State University and her M.Div. from Union, and then became university chaplain at Framingham State University, where she helped students from a variety of religious, moral, and philosophical traditions form and strengthen their communities. In addition, she assisted students in planning creative rituals and liturgies that deepened their spiritual engagement.
Through Bailey Fischer’s ministry’s strong foundation in social justice, which included Urban Pilgrimage, the unique experiential learning program she developed at Framingham State, she galvanized the student-led development of interfaith programming to encourage learning across traditions.
Her research at General examines the ancient order of female deacons from the early church, its late-19th century revival, and its role in the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church in the United States.
As chaplain to the college, Mother Bailey Fischer will support the vitality of the many religious, spiritual, and intellectual traditions at Williams through dialogue, outreach, and advocacy. In addition, she will provide counseling and spiritual guidance for undergraduates and foster community between students and their neighbors in Williamstown and the wider world.
“I am inspired how the chaplains, faculty, staff and students [at Williams] are engaged in issues of faith and religion in a variety of ways,” Bailey Fischer says. “I am excited to be part of this process as Chaplain to the College.”
With great sadness we share with you that Mr. Frank Strup Jr., long-time faithful friend and supporter of General Seminary, died peacefully Friday, May 4, 2018 at the age of 96 after a short decline. Strup Jr. was the father of our current trustee Mr. Richard Strup and was born at General Seminary and grew up in a ground floor apartment of the West Building.
The Strup family’s historical connections to General go as far back as the early 1900s, when Frank Strup Sr., began as a library book duster as a teenager and ended a long and successful career as the Seminary’s Bursar and Registrar. Strup Sr. worked at General for 55 years until his retirement, and it was here that he started a family. It was also here in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd where funeral services for Frank Strup Sr. were held in 1965.
The entire Strup family, particularly Frank Jr., have been tremendous friends and supporters of General Seminary. Their devotion has been steadfast; the ambo (bible stand) in the center of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd was dedicated to Frank, Sr. upon his retirement, and many gifts in support of the Chapel have followed. He last visited a few years ago with his son Dick and his daughter Susan. He toured his old home in the West Building. He showed us where his mother would cook for seminarians and brought a photo of the now-mighty tree shading the patio when it was just as tall as he. When in the ground floor of Hoffman, he recognized the basketball court, rose from his wheel chair, and showed us how he would "jump ball" from the still-visible Center Circle outside the Matthews Room.
Dean Dunkle remembers Strup, Jr. as a loyal, loving, and faithful father and friend. “I visited Frank many times at his home or finally in the hospital over the past few years. Each time, he would close with the same admonition: ‘take care of that Seminary, Dunkle.’ I know we are honoring Frank's wishes with our work together. Alleluia for Frank Strup Jr.'s enduring love and support of General Seminary. Now he will live the true resurrected life in Jesus. A true, and literal, son of the Seminary now living in glory everlasting.”
Born in 1921 in New York City to Frank Sr. and Emma Strup, Strup spent most of his life working and living in the New York City and New Jersey (Lawrenceville, Stone Harbor) areas. For 30 years he was an executive at Johnson & Johnson, serving as director of finance and national controller of operations before retiring in 1972. He graduated from Colby College in 1944 and served as a Lieutenant JG for three years during WWII in the US Navy's Pacific fleet.
He is survived by his two adult children, Richard Strup and Susan Strup Hood; daughter-in-law, Cindy; son-in-law, Tom; three grandchildren, Laura and her husband, John Hillenburg, Emily Strup and her fiance, James Futrell, Alex Scull and his wife, Carolynn; one great-granddaughter, Madeleine Hillenburg; his brother, Joseph Strup and sister-in-law, Mary, many nieces, nephews and friends. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Janet Strup, his parents, and his sister, Helen Strup Baker. In Frank's words “Everyone knows how I feel. Susan liked to dance, Richard was the serious one, Janet was the love of my life! Also, I recommend buying J&J stock!”
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, at 12 noon at The Church of St. Ann, 1253 Lawrence Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648. The family will hold a private interment. Visitation will be held from 11 a.m. to 12 noon on Wednesday in the chapel at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the "Strup Chapel Fund" of the General Theological Seminary, 440 West 21st St., New York City, NY 10011.
By the Rev. Miguel A. Hernandez, Class of 2013
It has been already a year since El Seminario Episcopal Anglicano of El Salvador was born. Who would have thought that my incursion into theological education would bring me to teach seminary-level classes in El Salvador? It would have never crossed my mind, but it became a reality.
Well, this past December 2017, Leonor Molina-Hernandez, my wife, and I traveled to El Salvador to witness the conclusion of the first year of classes at El Seminario. After concluding my last class for the semester in San Salvador, we had a special ceremony in which the seminarians, the teachers as well as the administration were recognized for their labor of love. At the celebration, we had the opportunity to share with an Anglican Youth Group from Guatemala who were traveling throughout Central America, and El Salvador was their first stop before Christmas as they visited Anglican Churches in every country. After the celebration, we visited a popular tourist place named Los Planes de Renderos where we enjoyed some delicious pupusas (staffed tortillas) while being serenated with mariachi music. Food with music is the right thing to do in a Salvadoran gathering. It sounds like a sacrament, and it is!
There were six students, consisting of four women and two men, who completed the first two ciclos (semesters) for the first year of classes. I had the opportunity to teach Old Testament (Hebrew Bible), and New Testament in Spanish. The classes were offered via Facebook. At first, it was a challenge to get the technology to work, and afterwards, we were able to have the end-to-end video classes with minor issues. I would say that the desire to learn is one of the most observable characteristics of the students. For any on-line courses, the support of the Seminary is crucial, and I can say that the persons assisting with the technology and the materials were the best a teacher can ask for. Where there is a will there is away, indeed!
This was a mission trip that also included visiting other places like El Maizal in Sonsonate. I was invited to address the clergy at the Diocese of El Salvador with the theme: the Leadership of Jesus. This is an important topic since we tend to forget that Jesus’ message was to serve those in our communities. As part of the talk, we had the opportunity to delve into the New Testament passages in which Jesus talk about “who is greater among you” (Luke 9:46), and we also talk about what was expected of those of us who call ourselves Christians (Mark 8:34-38). These are difficult texts for those who want to climb the ladder of success in the church, or in any other organization, to achieve a position of power and prestige. We need to read those texts regularly so that we can be the church of Christ (of love), and not the church of the empire (of power). During the presentation, we had the opportunity to dialogue about the current situation in El Salvador, and how to bring change in a society that is broken as a result of injustice and unmet expectations from the political parties that have had a detrimental effect on the poor due to unemployment, lack of educational opportunities, scarcity of drinking water in some places, and most of all for the constant migration of young people to the USA looking for opportunities that they cannot find in El Salvador. The challenges are great, and the church must be prayerfully involved in accompanying those in need to overcome some basic human needs. Recently, we have heard of the sad news of the cancelation of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans by the Trump administration. This issue by itself will compound the suffering of the people in El Salvador and in the USA.
Another mission opportunity took place as we visited the Anglican Episcopal communities of El Carmen and San Juan de Letrán in Usulután. These two communities are located in a remote and hard-to-get place in the country side were one have to wait for hours after a storm in order to cross a river since there is no bridge. Life is hard in this area. One of the residents was explaining to me how these communities were established after El Salvador Peace Accords were signed in México in 1992. He said, “we came here with our things, and we slept under the trees. There was nothing here. We had just grass and trees, and we opened the way to start the community.” I thought about the images in the foundation of Macondo depicted in the magical novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. Now, these two communities enjoy a local clinic that a doctor visits regularly, a school that offers classes up to the third grade, and running water that the church has secured using Cuban technology. In these communities, a group of six women and a man are learning to saw so that they can improve their chances of getting a job, and perhaps in the future to start a cooperative where they can employ themselves when the harvest of corn and other vegetables have concluded.
These are some of the opportunities that the seminarians at El Seminario Episcopal Anglicano of El Salvador will have as they become involved in their communities around the country. The field is ripe! The question is always: are you willing to respond to the call?
The Rev. Miguel A. Hernandez, Class of 2013, is the Priest-in-Charge at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in West Orange, NJ. He is an Adjunct Faculty at General as well as the Newark School of Theology, and El Seminario Episcopal Anglicano of El Salvador. He is also a member of our Alumni Executive Committee. Rev. Hernandez is completing his Doctor of Ministry degree at New York Theological Seminary. His reporting on the progress of the seminary in El Salvador has been picked up by several media outlets.