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Episcopal Seminaries Struggle to Survive

Episcopal Seminaries Struggle to Survive
Seventy percent of TEC seminaries have fewer than 100 students


By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
Aug. 16, 2016

Ten accredited theological seminaries and schools for ministry and one, unaccredited Episcopal divinity school, unevenly dot the American Episcopal landscape. An independent study of the state of these seminaries reveals that seventy percent of these institutions have fewer than 100 students.

Their decline follows the bell curve of The Episcopal Church as it experiences loss in members, parish closings and an inability to attract a younger generation of Americans. Many believe that issues like the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopacy, the embrace of pansexuality and homosexual marriage now enshrined in canon law, reflect a Church that lacks a distinctive message separate from the prevailing culture.

These are: General Theological Seminary (New York City); Berkeley Divinity School at Yale (Hew Haven, Connecticut); Episcopal Divinity School (Cambridge, Massachusetts); Trinity School for Ministry (Ambridge, Pennsylvania); Virginia Theological Seminary (Alexandria, Virginia); School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee (Sewanee, Tennessee); Nashotah House Theological Seminary (Nashotah, Wisconsin); Seminary of the Southwest (Austin, Texas); Bexley Hall & Seabury-Western Theological Seminary Federation (Chicago, Illinois); Church Divinity School of the Pacific (Berkeley, California); and Bishop Kemper School for Ministry (Topeka, Kansas).

Presently, the Episcopal seminary scene is rather fluid. In a story recently posted by the Institute on Religion & Democracy's Juicy Ecumenism blog, it was revealed that at least three Episcopal seminaries -- Bexley-Seabury, General and Episcopal Divinity -- were some of the smallest divinity schools in the country.

Juicy Ecumenism reports: "Among the smallest accredited Protestant seminaries in the nation are three Episcopal seminaries: Bexley Hall Seabury-Western Theological Seminary Federation with 17 fulltime students enrolled, General Theological Seminary with 34 fulltime students, and Episcopal Divinity School with 35 fulltime students."


Juicy Ecumenism got its "fulltime" student figures from the Association of Theological Seminaries, an accrediting commission which keeps tabs and statistics on all accredited seminaries in the United States and Canada.

The accreditation commission is primarily charged with assuring the quality of North American seminary education and training and serves as a resource for quality improvement. But the Association of Theological Seminaries has an interesting way of counting "fulltime" students. The Association calls its math "fulltime equivalent."

The special math goes this way: if Seminary X considers a student taking 12 credit hours to be a "fulltime" student and Seminary X had four students who are taking three credit hours, two students who are taking six credit hours, and one student who is taking a full load of 12 credit hours therefore the Association of Theological Seminaries considers that Seminary X has only three "fulltime" students, even though seven people are actually taking credit courses at the seminary. Even though only one student is actually carrying a "fulltime load" of 12 credit hours, the other six students at Seminary X are part timers, each taking fewer than 12 credit hours, but their credit courses add up to 24 credit hours, which translates into two more "fulltime" students on paper.

In actuality, Bexley-Seabury has a student body of 38 and a fulltime student equivalency of 17; General has a student body of 39 and a fulltime student equivalency of 34; and Episcopal Divinity has a student body of 48 and a fulltime student equivalency of 35. So the nose count for the three smallest Episcopal seminaries is 125 seminarians, but only 86 students show up on paper as "fulltime" divinity school scholars.

Bexley-Seabury, Episcopal Divinity and General all have had some major internal shifting in the recent past which is impacting upon their status and identity.


Last month, Episcopal Divinity announced that it would cease granting degrees in 2017. The school is now actively exploring new options for its very future. Episcopal Divinity is one of the youngest and smallest of the Episcopal seminaries.

Episcopal Divinity was formed in 1974 through the merger of the Cambridge-based Episcopal Theological School and Philadelphia Divinity School. Both Episcopal Theological and Philadelphia Divinity were on the brink of financial collapse when they joined forces to birth Episcopal Divinity School, thus incorporating elements of both names in the new seminary's moniker. Episcopal Divinity School is considered one of the most liberal seminaries in The Episcopal Church.

"A school that has taken on racism, sexism, heterosexism, and multiple interlocking oppressions is now called to rethink its delivery of theological education in a new and changing world," explained the Very Rev. Gary Hall, Episcopal Divinity's Chairman of the Board of Trustees. "Ending unsustainable spending is a matter of social justice."

Dean Hall is also an early Episcopal Divinity graduate. He graduated from the young seminary in 1976, just two years after its establishment. "It is clear to us that if EDS's special commitment to working for social justice and the full inclusion of all of God's people in our common life is to endure, we need to act quickly while the seminary still has sufficient assets to bring to bear in the next phase of its life," he continued.

Last week, Chairman Hall and Vice Chair, Bonnie Anderson (formerly the Episcopal House of Deputies president), announced the formation of two committees -- the New Directions Committee and the Transitions Committee -- "to discern what the future of the EDS might be, and how to get from here to there."

But as early as 2013, Episcopal Divinity launched a plan "Re-imagining Theological Education in the 21st Century" in an attempt to "ensure the sustainability of the school and its mission." This resulted in a battle between the administration and the faculty over the future of the school and the ability of its leadership. At the time, Episcopal Divinity's Dean and President was Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, an ultra-progressive Episcopal lesbian priest who considered abortion to be a blessing.

"Let's be very clear about this: when a woman finds herself pregnant due to violence and chooses an abortion, it is the violence that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing," she said in a 2007 speech defending abortion rights.

For that statement, the Episcopal Divinity dean has been called the "High Priestess of Abortion" by Mark Tooley of Juicy Ecumenism, who considered her to be the "perfect icon for untrammeled liberal Episcopalianism" when she took over the reins at Episcopal Divinity School in mid-2009.

In 2013, when Episcopal Divinity's Dean Ragsdale was evaluated by the Board of Trustees, she was found to be "smart, passionate and dedicated," and the Board renewed her contract. However, the faculty disagreed and returned a vote of "no confidence" in her leadership style. This put the Board of Trustees and the Episcopal Divinity's faculty locking horns.

Episcopal Divinity also fell victim to the high cost of maintaining aging buildings and an ever declining enrollment. So, in 2007, before Dean Ragsdale joined the school, the seminary sold seven of its buildings to a nearby private fine arts college -- Leslie University -- for $33.5 million, in an attempt to stay financially solvent.

During her tenure at Episcopal Divinity, Dean Ragsdale, "married" her lesbian lover -- the female Canon to the Ordinary of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts -- with Bishop Thomas Shaw (XVI Massachusetts) doing the dishonors. Dean Ragsdale stepped down from her post in early 2015, and, at the time, the Board of Trustees praised her for her "vigor and a commitment to excellence" and in "keeping our tradition of being a respected and progressive center for study and spiritual formation for lay and ordained leaders."

In 2007, before Episcopal Divinity welcomed Dean Ragsdale and her "wife", the seminary's total student body was 85, including 17 fulltime students in the freshman class.

2015-'16 STATS: Student Body - 48; Fulltime Equivalency - 35; Fulltime Faculty -4. MDiv students - 32; General theology students - 8; Advanced ministerial students - 6; Other students - 2. Basic MDiv tuition and mandatory fees per year sans room, board and books: $15,610. Degrees offered: Master of Divinity; Master of Arts in Theological Studies; Master of Arts in Theological Studies in Feminist Liberation Theologies; and Doctor of Ministry. Certificates offered: Certificate of Theological Study in Anglican Studies; Certificate of Theological Study in Christian Spiritualities for the Contemporary World; Certificate of Theological Study in Justice, Reconciliation, and Mission; and Customized Certificate of Theological Study. Boston Theological Institute Certificates offered: Boston Theological Institute in International Mission and Ecumenism; and Boston Theological Institute Certificate in Religion and Conflict Transformation.


Bexley-Seabury is also a product of several mergers. Originally, Western Theological Seminary was founded in 1833, at Evanston, Illinois, as a 'high church' training center. It first merged with the 'low church' Seabury Divinity School in1933. Seabury Divinity was first founded in 1858, at Faribault, Minnesota, during the year of Minnesota's statehood, as a frontier Episcopal seminary. Once merged, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary was liturgically Anglo-Catholic, yet retained an acceptance of modernized theology and an interest in the social gospel.

In 2008, Seabury-Western stopped accepting seminary students. The next year its property was sold to Northwestern University, but the fledging Episcopal seminary was allowed to stay in place for five years so that its current students could finish their training without disruption. In 2012, Seabury-Western ceased operation as a residential Episcopal seminary, at which time the Evanston seminary joined forces with Bexley Hall in Ohio to form the Bexley Hall & Seabury-Western Theological Federation, all the while briefly maintaining two campuses, one in Bexley, Ohio and the other in Evanston, Illinois. Finally, following the close of the 2016 academic year, the Bexley's historic Ohio campus was closed and all Bexley-Seabury operations were moved to Chicago. The seminary is now housed on the second floor of the Chicago Theological Seminary, a liberal ecumenical Protestant seminary with United Church of Christ and Congregationalist roots.

Chicago Theological, located in Chicago's historic Hyde Park/Woodlawn district, also has seminary tracks for United Methodist and Metropolitan Community Church students, which lead to ordinations in their respective denominations.

"Cross-denominational partnerships are a Bexley-Seabury hallmark," Bexley-Seabury boasts on its new website. "Similarly, Bexley-Seabury has long embraced multi-faith and interreligious relationships. This includes the forging of academic partnerships with non-Episcopal seminaries as well as establishing and participating in the Theological Consortium of Greater Columbus and the Association of Chicago Theological Schools."

The Association of Chicago Theological Schools' network includes: Bexley-Seabury (Episcopal); Catholic Theological Union (Roman Catholic); Chicago Theological Seminary (Ecumenical); Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary (United Methodist); Lutheran School of Theology (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America); McCormick Theological Seminary (Presbyterian USA); Meadville Lombard Theological School (Unitarian Universalist); Northern Seminary (American Baptist); North Park Seminary (Evangelical Covenant); Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Evangelical Free); and Mundelein Seminary at University of St. Mary of the Lake (Roman Catholic).

The Chicago seminary association encourages divinity school students to: "Broaden your theological perspective by learning from institutions of various religious affiliations." A seminarian from one divinity school can participate in and take classes at any other member seminary, regardless of the denominational background.

In addition to participating in the Association of Chicago Theological Schools, Bexley-Seabury also partners with Central Baptist Theological Seminary (American Baptist); Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (American Baptist); Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Presbyterian USA); and Wartburg Theological Seminary (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).
Bexley-Seabury now calls itself "An Episcopal Center for Learning & Discipleship" which is "creating new networks of Christian formation.

2015-'16 STATS: Student Body - 38; Fulltime Equivalency - 17; Fulltime Faculty - 4; MDiv students - 30; General theology students - 8; Advanced ministerial students - 6; Other students - 2. Basic MDiv tuition and mandatory fees per year sans room, board and books: $19,610. Degrees offered: Master of Divinity; Master of Arts in Theological Studies; and Doctor of Ministry; Doctor of Ministry in Preaching; and Doctor of Ministry in Congregational Development. Diplomas offered: Diploma in Anglican Studies.


If Episcopal Divinity is one of the youngest Episcopal seminaries, one other very small Episcopal seminary -- The General Theological Seminary -- is the oldest. It was established in 1817, the year Henry David Thoreau was born. It was founded as an action of the XII General Convention held in New York, which called for a general theological seminary to be supported by the entire church and which is to be located in New York. It is fondly called "The General."

General Convention was responding to the need which developed for "learned and pious" ministers following the Revolutionary War. Church of England clergy returned to England, leaving newly emerging American Episcopalians without pastoral ministry and sacramental care.

"...there shall be established within the state of New York, under the direction or by the authority of the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, or of the Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of New York, a College, Academy, School, or Seminary, for the education of young men designed for holy orders in the Protestant Episcopal Church."

General Seminary holds as its motto: "Sermo Tuus Veritas Est" -- Thy Word is Truth.

The General was finally home based at 440 West 21st Street, only a few long blocks from Episcopal Church headquarters at 815 Second Avenue. The Manhattan-based seminary originally attempted to be broad church and bridge the gap and hold together the tension between what the high and low church members believe and practice. However, though the years, The General's faculty has become liberalized and now accepts The Episcopal Church's current view of moral and theological issues.

During the fall term of 2014, tensions became so great, that the faculty, eight of ten fulltime faculty members, revolted and refused to "teach, attend meetings, or participate in common worship until pressing issues at the Seminary are addressed."

The pressing issues coming to a head were the leadership and style of General's Dean and President, Kurt Dunkle, whom some faculty members felt was overbearing, controlling, uncooperative, and fostering an environment of secrecy and mistrust, coupled with his habit of making vulgar offensively inappropriate sexual, racist and anti-gay remarks.

Dean Dunkle interpreted his faculty's walk out as a mass resignation and the Board of Trustees "accepted" the professors' "resignations", leaving the General's student body without teaching professors as the school scrambled to find replacements.

"It also became clear to me that by the decision to terminate the faculty, the Board (of Trustees) had so inflamed the situation that the Board itself had become a participant in the conflict, and in ways that were impeding the hope of a just and fair resolution of the crisis," New York Bishop Andrew Dietsche (XVI New York) said in a statement at the time.

The "fired" professors sought legal action to save their careers. They were provisionally reinstated, and entered into mediation to resolve their differences with General's administration.

The 2014 dispute between the dean and his faculty boiled over into the spring of 2015, when 20 General Theological Seminary students, alumni and former trustees wrote New York's Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, asking that he "take a look at the deteriorating situation at the General Theological Seminary." They feared that the seminary would continue to sell off its treasured real estate on Chelsea Square in Manhattan. The Desmond Tutu Center was one such property to be sold in the school's attempt to pay down its $40 million debt.

The letter the authors wrote said that they felt that Dean Dunkle and the Board of Trustees "may have abandoned their fiduciary responsibilities and taken actions which are likely to result in the (seminary's) closing" and the selloff of the rest of the school's valuable property.

The General's student body took a major hit as a result of the 2014 faculty walkout. At the time, The New York Times reported that there was a student body of 140, with a fulltime teaching faulty of 10. Now the Association for Theological Seminaries reports that General has a student body of 39 and five fulltime professors.

Some noted General graduates include: James Lloyd Breck, a co-founder of Nashotah House and the founder of Seabury Divinity School; Jeannette Piccard, one of the "Philadelphia Eleven" who were the first women to be ordained in the Episcopal Church; Bishop Gene Robinson (IX Bishop of New Hampshire), the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church; and former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold (XXV PB).

2015-'16 STATS: Student Body - 39; Fulltime Equivalency - 34; Fulltime Faculty - 5. MDiv students - 25; General ministerial students - 3; General theological students - 2; Advanced research students - 4; Other students -5. Basic MDiv tuition and mandatory fees per year sans room, board and books: $15,400. Degrees offered: Master of Divinity; Master of Divinity with Honors; Master of Arts; Master of Arts with Honors; Master of Arts in Anglican Studies; Master of Arts in Ascetical Theology; Master of Arts in Biblical Studies; Master of Arts in Congregational Development; Master of Arts in Spiritual Direction; and Master of Arts in Theological Studies; and Master of Sacred Theology; Master of Sacred Theology in Spiritual Direction. Certificates offered: Certificate in Anglican Studies; Certificate in Ascetical Theology; Certificate in Biblical Studies: Certificate in Congregational Development; Certificate in Historical and Theological Studies; and Certificate in Spiritual Direction. Diplomas offered: Diploma in Anglican Studies.


In many ways, Nashotah House is an early daughter of The General. The Wisconsin seminary was founded by three recently graduated deacons from General. Missionary Bishop Jackson Kemper (I Wisconsin) enticed General's transitional student deacons James Lloyd Breck, William Adams, and John Henry Hobart, Jr., to the Territory of Wisconsin's wilderness to establish a monastic community, a seminary, and a center for theological work. Nashotah House is the result of that effort, and, to this day, seminarians follow a quasi monastic Benedictine spirituality and prayer life. Prayer has not ceased to be offered daily since the seminary's founding in 1842. Dcn. Breck was highly influenced by the mid-19th century Oxford Movement, so Nashotah was founded as a high church Anglo-Catholic institution. That is the spirituality it maintains to this day.

Nashotah is one of TEC's most conservative seminaries and is considered the Episcopal Church's crown jewel of Anglo-Catholic seminary training. However, Nashotah's reach goes far beyond The Episcopal Church. It is also a training ground for Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) priests and readily accepts students from the wider Anglican Communion seeking solid, classical theological training and traditional spiritual values. Its alumni list is peppered with both TEC and ACNA priests and bishops.

Dcn. Breck was ordained priest by Bishop Kemper, and he eventually went on to found Seabury Divinity School in Minnesota. Seabury's initial character as a zealous Anglo-Catholic institution was tempered by Bishop Henry Whipple (I Minnesota ) whose wish was "... to train up men whose faith should be firm as the eternal truths of the Catholic Creed, and whose love and charity should be as broad as the Church is broad."

However, Nashotah is not without its controversy. In 2014, Bishop Edward Salmon (XIII South Carolina) then Nashotah's dean, invited then Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to preach at Nashotah House. The invitation resulted in a public relations nightmare for the school and the resignation of Bishop Jack Iker (IV Fort Worth) from Nashotah's Board of Trustees and the distancing of Bishop William Wantland (V Eau Claire) from Nashotah events. The retired Eau Claire bishop also declined to continue financially supporting the institution while Bishop Salmon remained Nashotah's IXX dean.

Last October, Nashotah House also "radically overhauled" its governance structure. As a result, the Board of Trustees voted itself out of existence. Each "trustee" became a member of Nashotah's legal corporation, and the larger group became known as the Board of Visitors. Then a smaller Board of Directors -- the hands-on governing body of the seminary -- was selected out of the Board of Visitors. This was done to help deal with some internal problems that a Board of Trustees could not effectively deal with. Bishop Daniel Martins (XI Springfield) remains the Chairman of the Board following its change in status.

2015-'16 STATS: Student Body - 89; Fulltime Equivalency - 63; Fulltime Faculty - 13; MDiv students - 15; General ministerial students - 15; General theology students - 23; Advanced ministerial students - 26; Advance research students - 6. Basic MDiv tuition and mandatory fees per year sans room, board and books: $14,550. Degrees offered: Master of Divinity; Master of Arts in Ministry; Master of Theological Studies; Master of Theological Studies in Scripture; Master of Theological Studies in Church History; Master of Theological Studies in Theology ; Master of Theological Studies in Christian Spirituality; Master of Sacred Theology; Master of Sacred Theology in Systemic Theology; Master of Sacred Theology in Historical Theology; Master of Sacred Theology in Moral Theology; Master of Sacred Theology in Ascetical Theology; Master of Sacred Theology in Liturgics; Master of Sacred Theology; Master of Sacred Theology in Biblical Studies; Master of Sacred Theology; Master of Sacred Theology in Church History; Doctor of Ministry; Doctor of Ministry in Biblical Exposition; Doctor of Ministry in Liturgy; Doctor of Ministry in Christian Spirituality; Doctor of Ministry in Congregational Development; and Doctor of Ministry in Catechesis. Certificates offered: Certificate in Anglican Studies.


If newly renamed Bexley-Seabury is the newest and the smallest Episcopal divinity school configuration, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest, one of the oldest, and one of two Episcopal seminaries in the South. Virginia was founded in 1823 as the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia. Other than shortening its nom de plume, Virginia has not suffered through many of the upheavals that other Episcopal seminaries have struggled through.

In 1878, Virginia Theological opened a branch seminary to train Negro clergy, but Bishop Payne Divinity School eventually failed in 1949, and, in 1953, Virginia Theological desegregated and stepped in to assume Payne Divinity's assets. These assets became the founding principal for the Virginia Theological Seminary's Bishop Payne Scholarship Fund, designed for the benefit of black Episcopalians preparing for the ministry.

Bishop John Payne (I Liberia), for whom the black divinity school was named, was a Virginia Theological Seminary graduate. He labored for most of his ordained ministry in West Africa, bringing the Gospel to that part of the African continent. He founded the Missionary Episcopal Diocese of Liberia, which is now the Anglican Diocese of Liberia in the Province of West Africa. Virginia Theological has named its 253,000 bound volume and 190,000 e-book library after him -- The Bishop Payne Library. The library is also home to the African American Episcopal Historical Collection.

Virginia Theological prides itself as never wavering from its Evangelical heritage and zealous missionary tradition, while emphasizing a life of prayer, worship and community. Now it is an active member of the Washington (DC) Theological Consortium to enhance its theological education through ecumenical, international and cross-cultural intercourse.

Other members of the Washington Theological Consortium include: Catholic University of America School of Theology and Religious Studies (Roman Catholic); Howard University School of Divinity (Black nonsectarian); John Leland Center for Theological Studies (North American Baptist); Lutheran Theological Seminary (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America); the Dominican House of Studies (Roman Catholic); Reformed Theological Seminary (Conservative Presbyterian); Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University (Black Baptist); and Wesley Theological Seminary (United Methodist).

Virginia Theological also partners with: St. Paul's College (Paulist Fathers' Formation Hose); Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation (Christian Contemplative Institute); Woodstock Theological Center (Catholic Research Institute); The Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences (Islamic); and
InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington (Interfaith Coalition).

In 2010, Virginia Theological suffered a devastating loss when a catastrophe fire totally gutted its 1881 Immanuel Chapel leaving it in smoldering ruins. The chapel's iconic emblazoned stained glass window was destroyed in the inferno. The chapel has been rebuilt and was rededicated in October, 2015.

2015-'16 STATS: Student Body - 226; Fulltime Equivalency - 155; Fulltime Faculty - 17; MDiv students - 103; General theology students - 17; Advanced ministerial students - 90; Other students - 16. Basic MDiv tuition and mandatory fees per year sans room, board and books: $13,390. Degrees offered: Master of Divinity; Master of Arts; Master of Arts in Theological Studies; Master of Arts in Christian Formation; Master of Arts in Religion and Culture; Master of Arts in Biblical Interpretation; Doctor of Ministry; Doctor of Ministry in Ministry Development; Doctor of Ministry in Educational Leadership; and Doctor of Ministry in Christian Spirituality. Diplomas offered: Diploma in Anglican Studies; and Diploma in Theology.


On July 4, 1857, while the rest of the nation was celebrating its 81st Independence Day, Bishop Leonidas Polk (I Louisiana) led a delegation from Southern Episcopal dioceses to Monteagle, Tennessee. It was there Bishop Polk proposed the establishment of a SOUTHERN Episcopal school of higher learning, to reflect the sentiments of Southerners free of Northern influence, while incorporating theological study as an essential part of a well-rounded college education. The University of the South is the product of that Fourth of July mountain top sojourn with representatives from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas in attendance.

The University of the South is nestled in the small berg of Sewanee, Tennessee, just a stone's throw from Monteagle's lofty point. In 1860, Bishop Polk laid the six ton corner stone. However, in 1861, the Civil War interrupted things and Bishop Polk, second cousin to President James K. Polk, went marching off to war, eventually rising in rank to Lt. General for the Confederacy. The good bishop became known as "Sewanee's Fighting Bishop", and laid his life down on the battlefield on Pine Mountain, Georgia, in an attack by Maj. General William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army in his quest to capture and burn Atlanta and to begin his infamous March to the Sea. Bishop Polk's six ton marble corner stone was blown to smithereens by the Yankees.

Once the Civil War was over, the University of the South regrouped, sans Bishop Polk, and, in 1866, building began again and Sewanee, as the University is fondly called, has been in continuous operation since then. The first classes were held in 1868, with nine students taught by five faulty members.

Bishop Charles Quintard (II Tennessee) was Sewanee's first vice chancellor. The bishop, who was consecrated after the cessation of hostilities, was known as the "Chaplain of the Confederacy." In 1868, he attended the first Lambeth Conference and was able to secure much needed funding from sympathetic clergy and laity in the Church of England to help rebuild the University of the South.

During the early days, the University of the South's students "read" for orders and the school's first alumni priest was ordained in 1872. Six years later, the School of Theology was established and, through the years, Sewanee has generated a host of alumni. The school draws students from all 50 states and 40 foreign countries.

Sewanee's School of Theology has also produced three Episcopal presiding bishops: John Hines (PB XXII); John Allin (PBXXIII); and Edmond Browning (PBXXIV). The current Anglican Church in North America's Archbishop Foley Beach (II ACNA); and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Missionary Church, William Millsaps (II EMC) also are alumni.

Today, Sewanee is the only Episcopal university owned by 28 Episcopal dioceses, all in the Southeastern United States.

2015-'16 STATS: Student Body - 148; Fulltime Equivalency - 95; Fulltime Faculty - 11; MDiv students - 65; General theology students - 7; Advanced ministerial students - 57; Advanced research students - 15; Other students - 4. Basic MDiv tuition and mandatory fees per year sans room, board and books: $16,748. Degrees offered: Master of Divinity; Master of Arts; Master of Arts in Theology; Master of Arts in Bible; Master of Arts in Religion and Environment ; Master of Arts in Church History; Master of Sacred Theology; Master of Sacred Theology in Anglican Studies; Doctor of Ministry; Doctor of Ministry in Preaching; and Doctor of Ministry in Liturgy. Certificates offered: Certificate of Theological Studies. Diplomas offered: Diploma in Anglican Studies.


Former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, The Episcopal Church's first female presiding bishop and widely noted for her unorthodox and heterodox understanding of traditional Christianity, has found life after retirement at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. TEC's former top bishop -- a trained oceanographer -- earned her Master of Divinity from Church Divinity School, which then honored her with a doctorate when she was elected the III Bishop of Nevada. Now as the fall term is about to begin, she is slated to return again to her alma mater, for a one semester gig as the St. Margaret's Visiting Professor of Women in Ministry, where she is to teach about The Public Square: Engaging Emerging Opportunities.

St. Margaret's Visiting Professor of Women in Ministry was established in 2014, on the 40th anniversary year of the irregular ordination of the Philadelphia 11 in 1974.

Church Divinity School of the Pacific was founded in 1893, in San Mateo, California, before the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 struck. After the earthquake leveled the seminary's buildings, it was moved to the grounds of what would become Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco, which itself was rebuilding after being flattened by the same earthquake. During the Roaring Twenties, Church Divinity was again moved, this time to Berkeley to take advantage of academic cooperation with other seminaries in the area and the University of California -Berkeley.

(Berkeley Divinity School is home-based at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and has no direct ties with Church Divinity School in Berkeley, California.)

In 1962, Church Divinity School was instrumental in helping to found the Graduate Theological Union, a consortium of eight schools of theology in the immediate Berkeley area, including: Church Divinity School of the Pacific (Episcopal); American Baptist Seminary of the West (American Baptist and Progressive National Baptist) the Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology, and the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley (Roman Catholic); Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America); Pacific School of Religion (United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and United Methodist Church); San Francisco Theological Seminary (Presbyterian Church-USA); and Starr King School for the Ministry (Unitarian Universalist).

The Graduate Theological Union offers specialized studies in: Asian and Oceanic Cultures and Faith Traditions; Black Church/Africana Religious Studies; Hindu Studies; Islamic Studies; Jewish Studies; Orthodox Christian Studies; Buddhist Chaplaincy; and Women's Studies in Religion where the former presiding bishop will fit right in.

Church Divinity School has a long history of strong emphasis on women in religion. When the seminary relocated to Berkeley it connected with St. Margret's House, then a training school for consecrated deaconesses (not ordained female deacons) from 1909-1966. In 1889 the XXXVI Episcopal General Convention made provision for consecrated deaconesses. They were set apart for a ministry of service rather than participation in the liturgy which was then the purview of the ordained male deacon. Other Episcopal deaconess training schools were located in Philadelphia, New York and Chicago.

The St. Margaret's professorship is named to honor St. Margaret's history of training women for service in The Episcopal Church. TEC's former presiding bishop is St. Margaret's the third visiting professor. She follows Jenny Te Paa Daniel who was the Dean of Te Rau Kahikatea at St. John's Theological College in Auckland, New Zealand; and Suzanne Guthrie whose interest is in mystical theology. She has been an Episcopal chaplain at both Vassar College and Cornell University.

In keeping with Church Divinity's historic ties to the diaconal ministry the seminary is now home to the Episcopal School for Deacons, a three-year study program geared mainly to the training of deacons. Specific diaconal training was originally the brainchild of Bishop James Pike (V California.) In 1965 he was the first to ordain a woman as a deacon rather than a deaconess. That ordination was originally challenged and then accepted following his death in 1969.

Ambridge, Pennsylvania's Trinity School for Ministry also offers a Certificate in Diaconal Studies as does the Bishop Kemper School for Ministry which is an up and coming theological school in Kansas which is a collaborative venture of the Episcopal dioceses of Kansas, Nebraska, West Missouri and Western Kansas.

2015-'16 STATS: Student Body - 80; Fulltime Equivalency - 56; Fulltime Faculty - 5; MDiv students - 43; General theology students - 14; Advanced ministerial students - 6; Basic MDiv tuition and mandatory fees per year sans room, board and books: $18,706. Degrees offered: Master of Divinity; Master of Arts; Master of Sacred Theology; Master of Theological Studies; Master of Theological Studies in Liturgy; Master of Theological Studies in Pastoral Studies; Master of Theological Studies in Christian Education; Master of Theological Studies in Ministry Development; and Master of Theological Studies in Interfaith Relations. Doctor of Theology; Doctor of Theology in Sacred Texts and Their Interpretation; Doctor of Theology in Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion; Doctor of Theology in Theology and Ethics; and Doctor of Theology in Religion and Practice. Certificates offered: Certificate of Anglican Studies; and Certificate of Theological Studies.


The need to stem the tide of creeping liberal theology being taught in most Episcopal seminaries, brought about the birth of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in 1976. That year, the LXV General Convention approved the priestly ordination of women and regularized the irregular 1974 ordinations of the Philadelphia 11 and the 1975 ordinations of the Washington Four.

The American Church Union challenged General Convention's action, stating that the unprecedented action "placed the Episcopal Church outside the traditional doctrine, discipline, and worship of Anglicanism." The Evangelical and Catholic Mission (ECM) was founded that year to hold the line against the rising tide of women's ordination, and to take a strong moral stance against abortion and homosexuality. Bishop Albert Chambers (VII Springfield) left The Episcopal Church to found the Anglican Continuum.

It was against this backdrop that Trinity was founded by leaders of the Evangelical wing of the American church, to build an independent Episcopal seminary teaching a curriculum based upon the primacy of Scripture, orthodox Protestant theology, Evangelical principles and conservative values. At the same time, the Charismatic Renewal was sweeping across the land, slicing through all denominational lines, and Trinity was caught up in that cleansing and renewing breath of the Holy Spirit.

Trinity has reached beyond The Episcopal Church. Its 150 member student body comes not only from The Episcopal Church, but also from the Anglican Church in North America, Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, and from other parts of the Anglican Continuum.

Currently, Trinity is in transition. In January, Dean Justyn Terry, who was educated and ordained in England, announced his decision to step down after eight years at the helm, to return to England to be closer to family and continue his ministry in the Church of England. Henry L. Thompson III is Trinity's dean during the Interim, as a new leader is sought.

Since Trinity embraces the wider church, it has basically dropped "Episcopal" from its name and now labels itself as "Trinity School for Ministry: an evangelical seminary in the Anglican tradition." Its goal is to become a "global center for Christian formation, producing outstanding leaders who can plant, renew, and grow churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ."

"We welcome students and faculty who long for a church that is evangelical in faith, catholic in order, alive in the Holy Spirit, and committed to mission," Trinity explains on its website. "We have a vital commitment to students from the Episcopal Church and from other Anglican jurisdictions both in North America and abroad. We also welcome students from other Christian traditions."

Trinity also offers a specialized Spanish diploma in Anglican studies. Diploma de Posgrado en Estudios Anglicanos is designed to "provide solid training at the graduate level in the essence of Anglicanism for Spanish speakers, providing them with the training they need to be effective ministers of the Gospel in an evangelical Anglican context."

2015-'16 STATS: Student Body -213; Fulltime Equivalency - 77; Fulltime Faculty - 10; MDiv students - 63; General theology students - 81; Advanced ministerial students - 66; Advanced research students - 3. Basic MDiv tuition and mandatory fees per year sans room, board and books: $17,670. Degrees offered: Master of Divinity; Master of Divinity in Church Planting; Master of Divinity in General Parish Emphasis; Master of Divinity in Global Mission; Master of Divinity; Master of Divinity - Lutheran Focus ; Master of Divinity - Presbyterian Focus; Master of Arts in Religion; Master of Arts in Religion in Biblical Studies; Master of Arts in Religion in Christian History & Theology; Master of Arts in Religion in Christian Ministry & Missiology; Master of Arts in Religion in Christian History & Theology - Lutheran Focus; Master of Arts in Religion in Christian Ministry & Missiology - Lutheran Focus; Master of Sacred Theology; Master of Sacred Theology in Theological Studies; Master of Sacred Theology in Doctrine; and Doctor of Ministry. Diplomas offered: Diploma in Anglican Studies; Diploma in Christian Ministry; Diploma de Posgrado en Estudios Anglicanos (Spanish Language Diploma in Anglican Studies); and Diploma in Lutheran Studies. Certificates offered: Certificate of Diaconal Studies; and Certificate of Lutheran Studies.


A lion's share of Episcopal seminaries are east of the Mississippi and along the Atlantic Seaboard where Anglicanism got its start in Colonial America. The Seminary of the Southwest is one of a handful of divinity schools in the West. The others are Church Divinity School of the Pacific in California and The Bishop Kemper School for Ministry in Kansas.

Southwest got its start when The Episcopal Church's membership was exploding as a result of the mid-20th century baby boom. Bishop John Hines (IV Texas), who would eventually go on to become the XXII Presiding Bishop, saw a need to provide an Episcopal "seminary for the whole church" to accommodate the overflow of enrollment in the other established Episcopal divinity schools. But then the Sixties happened, and The Episcopal Church was infected and affected by the prevailing culture, resulting in the Southwest's tumbling enrollment. To counter that, the Texas theological school reached out to Hispanics by offering specialized courses.

Texas is a border state to Mexico. Lone Star State's border (1,241 miles) with Mexico is longer than any other border state, including Arizona (363 miles), California (140 miles) and New Mexico (179 miles). Hispanic Church Studies has been a part of Southwest's curriculum offering for more than 30 years. The seminary recognizes that rapid demographic shifts make it increasingly necessary for its student to have some familiarity with ministry to the growing Latino population. Hispanics and Latinos make up more than a third of the Texas 27.5 million population, with most having Mexican roots, but there are a growing number of Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Spaniards and Colombians flooding into the state. It is to this growing Latino population, that Southwest reaches out.

Southwest wants to help provide rootedness by "embodying the richness of the Episcopal and Anglican traditions in particular contexts, especially that of the American Southwest and its Hispanic cultures" and to identify historical, cultural, and devotional expressions of Hispanic and Latino Christians.

Southwest also has a specialized diploma with an Hispanic emphasis, resulting in a Spanish language graduate Diploma in Anglican Studies.

The Seminary of the Southwest is also home to the Episcopal Church Achives, which keeps and maintains records of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, General Conventions, Presiding Bishops, Commission and Committees, Episcopal Church Organization, personal papers and church documents.

The bulk of church archives were transferred to Austin for safe keeping from its previous home at the Philadelphia Divinity School. That institution closed in the mid 1970's.

2015-'16 STATS: Student Body - 95; Fulltime Equivalency - 67; Fulltime Faculty - 11; MDiv students - 33; General theology students - 9; General ministerial students - 45; Other students - 8. Basic MDiv tuition per year sans room, board and books: $13,800. Degrees offered: Master of Divinity; Master of Divinity with Hispanic Church Studies; Master of Arts in Religion; Master of Arts in Religion in Biblical Studies; Master of Arts in Religion in Historical Studies; Master of Arts in Religion in Theological Studies; Master of Arts in Religion in Theological Ethics Studies; Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling; Master of Arts in Chaplaincy & Pastoral Care; and Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation. Diplomas offered: Diploma in Anglican Studies; and Diploma in Theological Studies.


In 1854, Berkeley Divinity School was originally founded in Middletown, Connecticut, as the "Via Media" school between the Anglo-Catholic General Theological Seminary and the Evangelical Virginia Theological Seminary, seeing itself as the middle way between the two, strong faith walk expressions. In 1928, Berkeley moved to New Haven, to take advantage of the vast resources of Yale University and its divinity school. In 1971, Berkeley and Yale cemented their bond and now, all Berkeley Divinity School students are also fully fledged students of Yale Divinity School.

Berkeley is an Episcopal denominational seminary nestled within Yale's ecumenical Divinity School. In reality, upon graduation, Berkeley students receive a Masters of Divinity degree from Yale and a Diploma in Anglican Studies from Berkeley, certifying that they have received the proper Anglican formation necessary for Episcopal ordination.

"As an Episcopal seminary, Berkeley Divinity School offers what we like to call 'the best of both worlds' in theological education: the diversity of a university divinity school, combined with the focus of a denominational seminary," Berkeley's current dean, Andrew McGowan, boasts. "This potent combination offers a rare opportunity for Episcopal seminarians by providing an educational setting where they have access both to the vast educational resources of a secular university, as well as to the intensive formation for ministry of a Christian seminary. "

Church of Ireland Bishop of Cloyne, George Berkeley (1734-1753), was an Anglo-Irish philosopher who was ordained in by the Church of Ireland in 1721. He taught at Trinity College in Dublin before sailing for the Colonies in 1728, where he landed in Rhode Island. He introduced the Palladian architectural style to Colonial America. He returned to London four years later and, in 1734, became the Bishop of Cloyne. He had interests in theology, mathematics, physics, and moral philosophy.

Several institutions of learning have been named for Bishop Berkeley, including: Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and the Berkeley College at Yale -- one of 12 residential colleges at Yale University -- and should not be confused with Berkeley Divinity School. Berkeley, California and the University of California - Berkeley also honor the bishop, as does Berkeley Preparatory School, an elite Episcopal day school in Tampa, Florida, and its affiliate, Berkeley Academy.

Several noted Episcopal bishops and priests have attended Berkeley Divinity School including Boone Porter, a former editor of The Living Church; Massey Shepherd, the architect of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer; Bishop Walter Righter (VII Iowa), who was brought up on charges for being the first bishop to ordain a noncelibate gay to the diaconate; and TEC's current Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, who earned his Master of Divinity from Berkeley.

Berkeley offers two Anglican Studies Programs which are interlaced with Yale Divinity School courses. One track is a diploma in Anglican Studies (Masters in Divinity); the other track is a Certificate in Anglican Studies (Masters in Sacred Theology or a Masters in Arts in Religion). Both tracks require three core Yale courses: (Rel. 787a) Evolution of the Prayer Book; (Rel. 795a) Anglican History and Theology I: Great Britain; and (Rel. 798a) Anglican History and Theology II: ECUSA and the Anglican Communion.

Those seeking Episcopal ordination, must also be familiar with seven subject areas from an Anglican prospective: The Holy Scriptures; Church History, including the Ecumenical Movement; Christian Theology, including Missionary Theology and Missiology; Christian Ethics and Moral Theology; Studies in Contemporary Society, including racial and minority groups; Liturgics and Church Music; Christian Worship and Music according to the contents and use of the Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal along with authorized supplemental texts; and the Theory and Practice of Ministry.

Episcopal canons also require Berkeley students to receive anti-racism training, and instruction on the Title IV disciplinary procedures.

2015-'16 STATS: Yale Divinity School Student Body - 394; Fulltime Equivalency - 346; Fulltime Faculty - 38; MDiv students - 196; General theology students -181; Advanced Research students - 17; Other students (Berkeley Divinity School) - 65. Basic MDiv tuition per year sans room, board and books: $25,415. Yale Divinity School degrees offered: Master of Divinity; Comprehensive Master of Arts in Religion; Concentrated Master of Arts in Religion; Extended Master of Arts in Religion; and Master of Sacred Theology. Berkeley Divinity School Anglican Studies Programs: Diploma in Anglican Studies; and Certificate in Anglican Studies.


The newest kid on the block started in 2013, as "a unique collaborative venture of the Episcopal dioceses of Kansas, Nebraska, West Missouri and Western Kansas" to "pool financial and human resources to best support leadership formation within the four dioceses and to strengthen bonds of community and mutual mission."

Bishop Kemper School of Ministry was named in honor of Missionary Bishop Jackson Kemper (I Wisconsin). As the first missionary bishop of the antebellum Episcopal Church, Bishop Jackson Kemper tromped all over the Indiana, Wisconsin and Nebraska territories (states of Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota), bringing the Gospel and Sacraments to the expanding Western frontier of the American heartland.

The travelling bishop was instrumental in the founding of Nashotah House in what was then the Territory of Wisconsin. All he carried in his saddlebags were his vestments, Bible, Book of Common Prayer, chalice and paten, and a few personal items. The Bishop Kemper School honors its namesake's zeal and dedication to the souls in the hinterlands.

The Topeka-based school focuses on providing affordable, high-quality theological education for priests, deacons and lay ministers in keeping with Constitutions and Canons of The Episcopal Church. Completion of the course of study at Bishop Kemper can lead to diaconal or priestly ordination or lay licensure in one of the supporting dioceses. Bishop Kemper also offers a Lutheran Track for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Central States Synod which can lead to a Pastoral Ministry Associate certificate for the Lutherans.

Bishop Kemper is basically an on-line and weekend-in-residence commuter college, with courses designed to prepare students for mission and ministry. Those on the Presbyteral and Diaconal tracks are "Reading for Holy Orders", under the watchful eye of their respective diocesan bishops. The monthly Focus Weekend is the second weekend of each month during the traditional academic year, when students gather at Topeka's Grace Episcopal Cathedral, Bethany Place and Upton Hall, which can house and accommodate 22 Bishop Kemper students. The Focus Weekend allows Bishop Kemper students to meet for community, unite in prayer, and to receive intense face-to-face instruction in their chosen subject matter.

Bishop Kemper 's extensive faculty demonstrates the diversity of persons and Christian traditions. There are ordained and lay men and women. They come from Episcopal (Episcopal dioceses of Kansas, Nebraska, West Missouri, and Western Kansas), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and American Baptist traditions.

The current dean is Dr. Don Compier of the Diocese of Kansas. He was formerly a faculty member of Church Divinity School of the Pacific, where he once had Katharine Jefferts Schori as a student.

Topical courses offered at Bishop Kemper include: Bible, history, theology, ethics, liturgics, and practice of ministry. Some specific courses include: Biblical Greek, Old & New Testament, the Gospels, the Doctrines of the First, Second, and Third Persons of the Holy Trinity; Foundations in Ethics, Contemporary Ethics, Anglican Ethics, Diversity & Inclusion; Church History, Anglican History, Episcopal History, the Sacraments, the Practice of the Eucharist; Christian Spiritually, Anglican Identity; Liturgical Preaching, Christian Formation, Contemporary Mission, Pastoral Care, Episcopal Canons & Polity, and Church Administration.

STATS: Tuition fees, including Focus Weekend room and board, are $180 per course, sans cost of book and other related materials. Ministerial Certificates offered: Certificate in Presbyteral Studies (for those preparing to be ordained priests); Certificate in Diaconal Studies (for those intending to serve as vocational deacons); and Certificate in Anglican Studies (for persons who have previous ministerial education in another Christian denomination). Lay Certificates offered: Lay Catechist Certificate; Lay Preacher Certificate; and Lay Pastoral Leader Certificate

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

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