Perspectives on What's Happening at General Theological Seminary
Many sources have looked on with interest at the situation unfolding at General Theological Seminary.
Here are links to a few perspectives of note.
Here are links to a few perspectives of note.
GTS 8 Want an Arbiter
"In its October 24 announcement, the board indicated that it was offering to reinstate faculty “in a spirit of reconciliation and healing for the entire Seminary community” and that an outside meditator would help with reconciliation.
Faculty members have said they welcome the board’s proposal to use a Mennonite group to help with reconciliation, but they also want a neutral intermediary in place so they will not have to deal with Dunkle directly."
- G. Jeffrey MacDonald, reporting for The Living Church
Striking Professors At General Theological Seminary Respond Positively To School's Offer
"The eight General Theological Seminary professors who have been on strike over working conditions at the New York City school have tentatively agreed to return.
The so-called "GTS Eight" have responded positively to the seminary's offer of "provisional employment for the remainder of the academic year."'
- Carol Kuruvilla, reporting for The Huffington Post
GTS Faculty Accepts Board's Offer
"Thank you for your patience and prayers for us and for all the students, staff, Board and administration of the Seminary. We last spoke publicly last Friday, and have spent the intervening time reflecting on the Board’s press release, and privately seeking clarification on the meaning of that statement.
Last night we received a letter from Bishop Sisk which clarified the offer, and we drafted a positive response, which we needed to have checked with our legal counsel. Since some aspects of the contents of the Board’s offer were made public this afternoon in the Bishop of Pennsylvania’s public statement via Episcopal Café we feel it is appropriate to make our positive response public also. We look forward to resuming our ministries in the Seminary.
Some Thoughts on the Current Moment at the General Theological Seminary and a Modest Proposal:
From the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III, Bishop Provisional of Pennsylvania and Member of the Board of Trustees
"I call now for a season of self-examination and repentance as our General Theological Seminary (GTS) community seeks the guidance of Jesus to lead us toward fulfilling his will for this seminary in the current difficult moment.
I am hopeful that the Executive Committee and Board’s invitation to the Faculty to a return to the prior status through the remainder of this academic year will be received in a positive way and that the faculty assume their prior positions. I am encouraged by the decision of the Executive Committee to engage a skilled, qualified Christian mediator who will call the Dean, the Board, the Faculty, Students (and perhaps representatives of the Alumni/ae Association) together to engage in a prayerful, structured and disciplined process of mediation and reconciliation. Following graduation in May 2015, we as a community can come together to determine where we are and where we need to go. Part of the process must be mutual conversation, confession and repentance as necessary steps toward reconciliation..."
Bishops issue Public Statements Regarding the Crisis at General Seminary
A recent ENS article includes statements from several Bishops of the church that have been issued following the action by the GTS Board on Friday, October 17.
Here are extracts from those statements. We fully encourage you to read each statement in its entirety by clicking the individual links below.
The Rt. Rev. Andrew M. L. Dietsche, Bishop of New York, and Member of the Board of Trustees:
"...I have begun conversation with other members of the board, and it is my hope that we may yet find a way to work within the structure provided by this resolution to continue to press forward toward that which we still believe must be done, and that is to reinstate the eight faculty in full, and to do that this week.
Only then, and when that has happened, will it be possible for the board, the dean, the faculty and the students to address the underlying issues of the seminary life and leadership, some of them quite long-term, which precipitated this crisis... "
The Rt. Rev. William H. Stokes, Bishop of New Jersey, and Member of the Board of Trustees:
" ... I am willing to support [Bishop Dietsche's] call for the faculty to be immediately and fully reinstated with the understanding that there continues to be a need for public confession, healing and reconciliation from all parties. In addition to supporting his call for the reinstatement of the eight faculty members, I call for the Executive Committee of the Board to take immediate steps to contract with a mediator outside of the Episcopal Church, skilled in Christian healing to begin a process of dialogue, confession, reconciliation and healing for the entire General Theological Seminary community as quickly as this can be arranged. I commit myself to participating in such a process in humility, charity and love..."
The Rt. Rev. Thomas Breidenthal, Bishop of Southern Ohio, and former Member of the GTS Faculty:
"...It should be obvious why I am outraged as a former faculty member; any faculty member at any institution of higher learning should be outraged by this board’s action. Why am I outraged as a bishop? Because this action will go a long way toward confirming the unchurched in their assumption that institutional religion cannot be trusted. I continue to pray that the board will reverse its decision and reinstate the eight. Then real conversation can begin..."
Diocese of California Passes Resolution Opposing the Action of GTS Against the Faculty
Resolved, That the 165th Convention of the Diocese of California supports the following:
The Diocese of California deplores the actions of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in firing 8 faculty members protesting the Dean and President's allegedly inappropriate behavior. These actions are directly in opposition to the policies and procedures of The Episcopal Church. The board's interpretation of the faculty's letter of protest as a "resignation" cut off the possibilities of real and necessary conversation, and is unacceptable. As members of the Episcopal Church, we call for the faculty members to be reinstated with their full academic rights and privileges and a robust, independent and transparent investigation carried out.
- As carried at the Diocesan Convention, October 18, 2014
General Theological Seminary board refuses to rescind faculty sackings
"The future of General Theological Seminary (GTS), the flagship Episcopal Church seminary in New York, is still in doubt tonight after its Board of Trustees ignored pleas from across the world to reinstate sacked faculty members. Supporters of the eight professors -- who were told they had resigned after a work stoppage and letter to press long-term complaints about alleged abusive behaviour by the seminary's new Dean and President -- have expressed distress, dismay and anger at the actions of the GTS Board, its managing body."
- Staff Report, Ekklesia
Seeking Dean's Firing, Seminary Professors End Up Jobless
"It was then that the board decided that the letters amounted to a resignation, though the word resignation was never used....
The faculty was shocked. 'The letter is not a resignation, it is a plea,' said Joshua Davis, a professor of Systematic Theology. 'Please listen to us.'"
- Sharon Otterman, documenting the events in The New York Times, October 1, 2014.
On the Clock: General Theological Seminary and the Fate of Protestantism
"The students at GTS are watching. The rest of The Episcopal Church is watching and the rest of Protestantism should take note. If spiritual depth and fresh, new vision emerges from this week’s conversations in New York, a model for moving forward rather than retreating might emerge. If not, the rest of Protestantism should breathe a quiet, 'there, but for the grace of God…' and then give itself to a sober search for the way forward. We are all on the clock."
- Frederick Schmidt, Patheos.com; Rueben P. Job Professor of Spiritual Formation - Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (Evanston, IL)
Academics back dismissed faculty at troubled Episcopal Seminary
"US academics, including leading theologians, say they will not teach or lecture at General Theological Seminary (GTS) in New York after most of its faculty were summarily dismissed in a dispute a fortnight ago...
Over 900 scholars from across the United States, and a number of international colleagues, have signed a letter of support for the eight sacked faculty members at the troubled Episcopal Church seminary. "
- Staff Report, Ekklesia
What Part of 'the Right to Organize' Don't Some Religious Institutions Understand?
"This crisis is not GTS’s alone. It is a crisis for any community of faith in which cherished rights are being twisted into excuses for repression."
-Nathan Schneider, in America Magazine, October 9, 2014
From the Gate of the Hoffman Refectory
Mark Driscoll, the GTS 8, and the End of the Church
"The body of GTS faculty that has spoken and acted against what they have described as a profoundly dysfunctional educational and spiritual environment is not only a powerful gesture of moral solidarity but also a marker of what many people experience in places of employment, education, or worship and yet feel unable to address alone. Which is to say: Maybe we are all the GTS 8. Or at least too many of us are."
- Elizabeth Drescher, Ph.D., Santa Clara University, Author, and GTS Paddock Lecturer in 2013
Eight General Seminary Professors "Resign" Without their Knowledge
"If I remember my Reformation history correctly, it was The Act of Supremacy in 1534 that made Henry VIII head of the Church of England. Firing eight faculty members unjustly is not an Act of Supremacy, but an Act of Shame..."
- Anthea Butler, Religion Dispatches
Why United Methodists Should Be Watching What is Happening at General Theological Seminary
"I hope [students] will learn that God’s hope for justice is grounded in transparency, collaboration, and care for the soul of individuals, not in snide remarks, triangulation, or assumptions that straight, white, and male are norms for theological education and ministry. If the latter were the case, our seminaries and churches would have closed their doors long ago."
- Chett Pritchett, Methodist Federation for Social Action