Beyond the Close

IN MEMORIAM: Arthur Lillicrapp ‘74


The Rev. Arthur R. Lillicrapp, Class of 1974, of Elk Grove California died on April 30, 2019 after a brief illness. Father Art was born in Rockville New York on June 7, 1947 and was ordained into the Priesthood on December 22, 1974, New York City, Diocese of New York, at The Cathedral of St. John The Divine. Along with his MDiv from General, he held an MS in Pastoral Counseling. He will be remembered for his quick wit, great sense of humor, intelligence and his compassion.

 Lillicrapp served in New York, Maryland and Northern California. Since moving to the west coast, he served at Redding Medical Center and then was called to serve at Kaiser South in Sacramento. During his years at Kaiser he built the Spiritual Care Programs and under his direction the program grew to have 17 volunteers and 30 Eucharistic ministers. He trained chaplains and created a Spiritual Care Advisory Council with people of all faiths.

 Lillicrapp loved music, (particularly the The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, Bethlehem Pa.) gardening and working with the staff at Kaiser South. He was often quoted as saying, "my ten years at Kaiser were the happiest and most fulfilling of my life". He was predeceased by his beloved Daughter Phoebe, his parents Arthur Lillicrapp and Irene Nora (Yerger) Lillicrapp and his Sister Suzanne L. Anderson. He is survived by his Brother in Law Richard Anderson, his Nephews John Raymond Anderson (Beth), Stephen Arthur Anderson (Amy) his nieces and nephew, Molly Greer Anderson, Rachel Grace Anderson and Ian Arthur Anderson and his cousin Vicki Lillicrapp, along with other family and many friends.

 Funeral Services were held on Friday May 17 at 7:00 p.m. at Trinity Cathedral 2620 Capital Avenue, Sacramento, California 95816. Internment Monday May 20 at 4:00p.m. at the Cathedral.


A New Call for Deonna Neal ‘02


The Rev. Dr. Deonna D. Neal, Class of 2002, is now serving as a part-time priest associate at St. John's Episcopal Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Dr. Neal continues in her role as the Chair, Department of Leadership, Ethics, and the Profession of Arms at Air University (USAF) and is responsible for the leadership and ethics curriculum for 27,000 students across four Air Force officer graduate professional military education programs.  Her research and teaching interests include the ethics of emerging military technologies, professional ethics, moral injury, moral courage, and Christian ethics.

She holds a PhD in Moral Theology from the University of Notre Dame, an M.Phil. in Political Theology/Just War from the University of Oxford, as well as an M. Div. from General, and a B.S. in Human Behavior and Leadership from the US Air Force Academy.   Dr. Neal is also an FAA certified glider flight instructor, civil aviation pilot, Ironman triathlete and serves on the ethics committee for USA Triathlon.

A New Call for Marian Dulaney Fortner ‘96


The Rev. Marian Dulaney Fortner, Class of 1996, has been called as Interim Rector of St. James' Episcopal Church, Jackson, Mississippi. She has served for the past ten years as Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Fortner practiced law for twelve years before the call to ordained ministry and attendance at General. She has also previously served at All Saints Episcopal Church and Day School in Phoeniz, AZ; St. Andrew's Episcopal Day School in Jackson/Ridgeland, MS; St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Jackson, MS; and St. James Episcopal Church in Greenville, MS.

Churchwide, Fortner has served as a Deputy to General Convention as well as in multiple Diocesan leadership positions, including the Mississippi Executive Committee, Racial Reconciliation Committee, and Sexual Exploitation, Pastoral Justice & Advocacy Committee. She was also a member of the Board of Directors of a regional nonprofit formed after Hurricane Katrina to respond to unmet needs after natural disasters.

Fortner was a nominee for Bishop Coadjutor of Mississippi in 2014 and Bishop of West Tennessee in 2018. She is married to Tom Fortner and they have one daughter and one grandson.

IN MEMORIAM: Marvin Aycock ‘94


The Rev. Marvin Brady Aycock Jr., Class of 1994 died peacefully on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, surrounded by family. He was a beloved brother, husband, minister, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

 Marvin Brady Aycock Jr. was born Nov. 30, 1932, in Greenville, S.C., to Marvin Brady Aycock Sr., and Arminda (Mindie) Pruitt Aycock. He graduated from Greenville High School, studied at Clemson College, served in the United States Army for two years, graduated from Furman University in 1958, and earned his Master of Divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1961. He married Sally Rheta Thompson in 1959 and they had four children, including a daughter who died at birth.

 After graduating from seminary, Aycock served as pastor in churches in Elizabeth City, and Winston-Salem, until 1970. He left the Baptist ministry and accepted a position as an alcoholism counselor in Albemarle. For the next 25 years, he worked with the Piedmont Area Mental Health Authority. He counseled in the general mental health area, was approved by the American Association of Family Therapists, and was a certified social worker and a licensed family and marriage therapist. He and his wife joined the Episcopal church in Albemarle in 1972, and he became an ordained deacon in 1988. After completing a year of Anglican Studies at General in 1993-94, he was ordained a priest in 1995.

Aycock served as associate minister at St. Andrew's in Charlotte, and priest at Emmanuel and All Saints' in Warrenton; St. Paul's and St. Matthew's in Salisbury; and St. Paul's in Thomasville. He was pre-deceased by his sister June Aycock King (Fred). He is survived by his brother, John Belton Aycock (Helen); wife, Sally; children, Amy Aycock Cole (Franklin) of Albemarle, David King Aycock of New Orleans, La. and Clark Allen Aycock (Lisa Witler) of Asheville; grandchildren, LaShonda Aycock (Jimmy Isbill), Christopher Aycock (Emily Morton), and John Patrick Aycock; and great-grandchildren, Rayden Isbill, Kerri Isbill and Savannah Aycock. Marvin chose to have his body sent to the Whole Body Donation Program at Wake Forest School of Medicine to be used for medical courses and studies.

 A funeral service was held at St. Barnabas' Episcopal Church in Greensboro in January.

A New Call for Ellen Tillotson ‘83

Tillotson gown and hood GTS.jpg

The Rev. Ellen L. Tillotson, Class of 1983 and a member of our Board of Trustees, is the Interim Priest in Charge of Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, Darien, CT. She most recently served as Missional Priest at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bristol, CT.

Tillotson was the Rector of Trinity Torrington, CT from 1992 – 2011. She has also previously served at Trinity Church on the Green, New Haven and as a Supply Priest and Church Consultant for the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.

A native of North Dakota, Tillotson earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of North Dakota before attending General. She received her Master of Sacred Theology from Yale Divinity School in 2014. Tillotson is married to the Rev. William Cavanaugh, Class of 1981 and a member of our Alumni Executive Committee.

Ordination Scheduled for Jim Robertson ‘12


The Rev. James Robertson, Class of 2012, will be ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania on June 15, 2019.

 Robertson had experienced a failed process toward ordination in the Diocese of Pennsylvania.  He was encouraged by colleagues to return to the diocese in which he had grown up, which was smaller, and where he would get more personal attention and mentoring as he discerned his next steps. In 2015, he was accepted into the process in the Diocese of West Missouri (Kansas City), after a "getting to know people and place" time. He was on staff at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral during that time beginning in 2014.

 In the Spring of 2018, Robertson and his husband Dean Ennis’s family obligations necessitated a move back east. Bishop Scanlon of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, together with the Commission on Ministry and Standing Committee, accepted Jim's candidacy for priesthood in order that he not have to begin the process over after their move. After arriving in the Diocese of Central PA, Robertson conducted extensive visitation throughout its 61 parishes.

Click here for the ordination invitation.

IN MEMORIAM: Jack Murray, former trustee


James K. "Jack" Murray, Jr., died February 15, 2019. He was a member of our Board of Trustees from 2011 until his death at age 83. Mr. Murray was a long-time member of St. John's Episcopal Parish in Tampa, Florida, led by the Rev. Charles "Chip" Connelly, Class of 2007.

Born June 3, 1935, Murray was a proud member of two large families of coal miners: the Murray family of Pocahontas, Virginia and the Kenyon family of Osage, West Virginia. Jack was born on June 3, 1935 in Elm Grove, West Virginia. His parents were James K. Murray and Edith Kenyon Murray.

Mr. Murray was the husband of Sandra High Murray. He was blessed with a wonderful wife. They were married on June 14, 1958 in Charleston, West Virginia and they visited Florida on their honeymoon and decided to stay in the Tampa Bay area.

He was the devoted father of Susan Murray, of Pinellas Park, FL, James K. "Jack" Murray Ill (Mary), Michael S. Murray (Allison) and Scott Lee (Erika), all of Tampa, Florida. And the proud grandfather of Sarah Ragsdale Shanklin (Billy) and Charlie Ragsdale of St. Petersburg, FL, Ashton Murray of New York, NY, Jack Murray IV, Kaitlin and Cody Murray of Tampa, FL, Jennifer Murray Kent (Tommy) of Burke, VA and Mike Murray, Jr. of New Zealand. Mr. Murray was the delighted great-grandfather of Delilah Shanklin, Jackson Lee, Adeline Lee, and Allison Kent.

During his long life, Mr. Murray had the joy of being in business with an outstanding group of partners and colleagues. And he was blessed with a wonderful group of friends.

Following the Murray family tradition, there was a private service for immediate family members only, led by the Rev. Charles "Chip" Connelly, and a later internment of the ashes at the Murray family cemetery in Charlottesville, Virginia.


IN MEMORIAM: Marge Christie, Former Trustee

A tribute from the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton


Marge Christie, General Seminary Trustee from 2001 – 2012 and 13-time deputy to General Convention from the Diocese of Newark, died peacefully in her sleep, April 13, 2019 at the age of 90. Marge was part of that generation of women leaders in the church - which included women like Marge Burke, Pam Chinnis, and Sallee Buckley - who worked tirelessly for the ordination of women who, themselves, were not called to ordination but, rather to an empowered ministry of the laity.

Marge served tirelessly as a member of Executive Council, the Executive Council and UN Commission on the Status of Women, The Episcopal Church Women, was among one of the first members of the Episcopal Women's Caucus and founder of The Anglican Women's Empowerment. Deeply committed to diversity and inclusion, Marge was a founding member of The Oasis (DioNewark LGBTQ Ministry), the DioNewark Dismantling Racism Commission which successfully passed a diocesan resolution which mandated Anti-Racism Training as a requirement to election to any diocesan office, and the DioNewark Women's Commission which successfully passed a resolution requiring all diocesan worship services to use inclusive/expansive language.

Even more importantly, Marge was involved in the spiritual formation of many, many women to the diaconate, priesthood, and episcopacy. At her last Diocesan Convention, she was elected first alternate for the Diocese of Newark beside her granddaughter, Caroline Christie, elected deputy at age 17. They had just spent two weeks together as roommates as part of an Anglican women’s delegation to the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York.

She was a Giant of Justice. We who were privileged to stand on her shoulders will be forever and eternally grateful that she helped us reach for the stars and dare to bring glimpses of the Realm of God into the church.

A service honoring her life will be held at 10 AM on Saturday, June 8, 2019 at Christ Church, Ridgewood

Click here to read the tribute from the Diocese of Newark.

Click here to read the obituary at Episcopal News Service.

A New Call for Nathan Ritter ‘10


The Rev. Nathan Ritter, Class of 2010, has been named new Pastor and Priest-in-Charge at Calvary Episcopal Church, Flemington, NJ. He has previously served at Grace Church in Newark, St. Paul’s Westfield, and Saint Thomas Church in New York City.

Ritter, who was born in St. Louis, graduated from Truman State University with a B.A. in classical languages and a minor in religious studies. From there, he moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where he earned a master’s degree from the Yale Divinity School. While at Yale, he focused on the Old Testament and Semitic languages and studied Aramaic, (Syriac), Ethiopic, Hebrew, Akkadian, Ugaritic, Sumerian and Greek. During his time in New Haven, he also met his future wife, Jessica, and officially became an Episcopalian when he was confirmed at Christ Church.

From there, Ritter entered the graduate program in Assyriology at the University of Michigan to study the languages and cultures of ancient Iraq and Syria. In Ann Arbor, he was active at Canterbury House, the Episcopal Student Center at the University of Michigan. In Michigan, Ritter also went to St. Gregory’s Abbey, an Episcopal monastery in Three Rivers. While serving on a discernment committee for another student, he discerned a call to the priesthood.

The Ritters moved to Jersey City in 2007, where Jess was ordained in the Lutheran Church; she serves as pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jersey City.

An Update from the TryTank

An Update from the TryTank

The joint venture between General and VTS, the TryTank*, is now off the ground. What a better time to present an update on some of the work. (*As a reminder, the TryTank is an experimental lab for church growth and innovation.)

By the Numbers

As of the end of the first quarter, the TryTank has 16 experiments in different stages: 4 are in active mode, meaning that they are operating and we are gathering data to gauge the success or failure of the individual experiment; the remaining 12 experiments are in the development phase to launch at different times. We anticipate that those experiments will go live in April (3 of them), May (5), June (1), September (2), and one in January of 2020. With all of the announced experiments, we anticipate working with some 180 congregations across the country. You can see the full list of experiments on our website (, and you can see where we are on any of them each week by subscribing to our newsletter on the same site. Every Monday you'll get an insider's view of our work.

Two FAQs

As the director of the TryTank, people will often ask me the same questions: how can my church participate in an experiment? and what is the hardest part of an experiment? Let's look at both.

Let's begin with the latter: what has been the hardest part. It has not been, as perhaps my nightmares told me, that we'd have active opposition to our ideas. On the contrary, people have been very welcoming of a new "R&D Department" for the church. True, our sphere of influence is small. Those who get our newsletter now are the "early adaptors." They probably have already been doing experiments on their own and are excited by our work.

What actually has been hard is finding experiment partners. Not every experiment is the right fit for every location. But even when some show interest, typically only those churches with multiple clergy members have been able to sign up to participate. Church diversity is essential in this work. We are committed to trying every experiment in at least two settings so that we can see the differences that the context have on the outcome. And we want the experiments to be relevant to small and more resourced churches.

This leads right into the "how can we participate question." That's easy, just do the contemporary equivalent of raising your hand, sign up. For each experiment, we always announce in the newsletter that we are looking for partners. When we are looking for many, we'll open up a simple online registration form. When we are looking for just a couple, all we ask is that the person hit "reply" and announce their interest. It's that simple.

How you can help

Our wisdom as a TryTank only grows by the more people and congregations who are involved, follow our work, and provide honest feedback. This means we need you to join our efforts. Get our newsletter. Follow the experiments. When the newsletter poses a question you know something about, hit reply and chime in. Share it with others and get them to sign up as well.

So, will you join us in this work? 

The Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija is the Director of the TryTank, an Experimental Lab for church growth and innovation