Certainly there are times in most conversations when our own opinions, experiences or suggestions are called for. But when someone asks us an open, honest question—and then listens closely to an unhurried response—we may feel like we’ve been given a precious gift. And this practice works in all aspects of life. We all can benefit from asking open, honest questions—and listening well to the answers.
God mysteriously opened doors for me to serve as the mission coordinator for the Mar Thoma Mission Board. It has been a great privilege to serve in this role right from the very beginning of the Light to Life mission project and it continues to be a truly rewarding experience the more I get involved.
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.”
Representatives of General Seminary were among the supporters of The Wild Goose Festival, held annually in the North Carolina mountains. Formed in 2010, the Wild Goose Festival is “a four-day spirit, justice, music and arts festival.” This year’s festival included many public leaders of progressive Christianity including William Barber II, Barbara Brown Taylor, Nadia Bolz-Webber, and Marianne Williamson. Despite storms and rain connected to Hurricane Barry in the gulf, 4,000 people attended the festival this year.
For the second year in a row, a healthy summer downpour showered the Close until the festivities of the Garden Party began. But the rain did little to dampen the merriment of the occasion. Neighbors and friends of General Seminary sloshed through puddles on 21 Street in their festive summer attire to come together in fellowship. And upon arrival, they were met with hospitality and a lively jazz trio that kept the pace of the celebration.
The Rev. Dr. Matthew Jacobson, Class of 2017, will join the staff of General as Assistant Director of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd beginning Michaelmas term 2019. Jacobson will be responsible for managing day-to-day operations as well as working with students to improve their chapel skills. He will also be part of the team of priests that serves at the altar in chapel.
Jacobson will also continue as an Assisting Priest at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, NYC, where he has been serving since graduation. Before the call to ordained ministry he earned a BA in biology at Swathmore College and an MD at the Stony Brook School of Medicine. In addition to his background in Medicine, Jacobson has experience in hospital chaplaincy. He has worked at the Rockefeller University, the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Cornell, and been a Chaplain Resident at Mt. Sinai Hospital.
The Rev. Jorge Juan Rivera-Torres, Class of 1962, received the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award during the Alumni Memorial Eucharist, May 14, 2019, a highlight of the annual Alumni Gathering. As historian at the Diocese of Puerto Rico, Padre Jorge’s work has kept Anglican/Episcopal history alive, and provided an example of a bridge between the Puerto Rican identity and the Episcopal Church’s ethos and tradition.
Padre Jorge was introduced by the Rev. John Shirley, Class of 2017, who had nominated him for the award. Rivera-Torres’ work and reputation had left a deep impression on Shirley while he was working in the Diocese of Puerto Rico in 2016. He emphasized that as the contemporary Episcopal Church faces the challenge of embracing and meeting the needs of the various Latino/Latina/Latinx communities that feel called into our fold, we can look to the work and writings of Padre Rivera-Torres for an example of how a once predominantly white and Anglo religious tradition adapted itself to a completely different culture.
Rivera-Torres also preached at the Memorial Eucharist, emphasizing the timeless and transcendent value of knowing the concept of Resurrection in better identifying Jesus’ presence among us today. He noted the creative impulse of the Resurrection as a motivating force delivering God’s liberating strength to each one of us today. Read the full text of his sermon here.
The Memorial Eucharist is a time of remembrance and for lifting up in prayer those alumni whose deaths have been reported to the Seminary over the past year. The Necrology was read by Community Council President Thomas Szczerba, Class of 2020. Download a copy of the 2018-2019 Necrology.
At a reception following, Padre Jorge reminisced and answered questions about his years of work with Hispanic communities across the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. He was introduced by the Rev. Dr. Carla Roland Guzman, our affiliate professor of Church History., who glowingly acknowledged his profound support of her own discernment process as a young postulant.
Later in the day, alumni led workshops looked at the challenges of Hispanic ministry and the potential for growth. The Rev. Miguel Hernandez ’13 shared tools and techniques he is using in the Diocese of Newark. The Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija ’14, shared experiments he is developing as Director of the TryTank (a joint venture between General and VTS) to aid and inspire Latinx outreach.
Almost 12 years ago I purchased a copy of Rowan Williams’s On Christian Theology. I can still remember reading the chapter ‘Between the Cherubim,’ in which Williams compares the empty tomb in John’s Gospel with the empty mercy seat in the temple. Something about these two images of God’s presence in the face of divine absence deeply resonated with me.
Many of my hopes are being realized now. When I began work on this topic during my doctoral studies (in the early 2000’s), there were very few published books that engaged the topic of children in the Bible. Slowly resources began to emerge, but over the past ten years publications have proliferated at an unprecedented rate.