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We're Christian, you're not, says General Theological Seminary Dean

We're Christian, you're not, says General Theological Seminary Dean

By David W. Virtue, DD
March 28, 2017

Several weeks ago, when the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., announced it was closing and merging with the ultra-liberal Union Theological Seminary in New York City, http://tinyurl.com/k9mbuwj bypassing one of its own seminaries -- General Theological Seminary - just 100 blocks away, VOL asked the question why?

We now have our answer. In a letter to his constituency, obtained by VOL, Kurt H. Dunkel, GTS Seminary Dean and President, wrote that EDS's embrace of Union was about "identity and direction." He went on to describe Union "as a multi-religious seminary embracing religious and humanist values (their words). Both EDS and Union have been clear about their identity and direction."

In other words, you're not really Christian at all and we are.

"General Seminary is ... clear about identity and direction. This is a Christian place open to all people. Our language is Jesus and our accent is Episcopalian. We have also made a clear statement of our commitment to formation through 100% faculty and student participation in twice-daily varied Christian worship in the Chapel, continued academic excellence and depth of faith formation, and embrace of complete pastoral integration through The Wisdom Year.

"General's brand, so to speak, continues to strengthen and grow. For bishops, dioceses and calling congregations, General is preparing graduates to grow churches and the Body of Christ. In fact, at our recent Board of Trustees meeting, that body formed a task force to collaborate with faculty in strengthening our focus on growth-in-numbers within the church."

Apparently, Mr. Dunkel doesn't think that EDS's merger with Union will be remotely Christian in identity and ethos, let alone Episcopalian!

The Dean went on to boast of his seminary's success after a disastrous fallout in Sept. of 2014, when eight faculty were fired after going on strike. The seminary earlier announced that it faced a financial crisis but had now largely resolved the crisis. "General has not been financially strong for decades. Four years ago, despite paying off all accumulated mortgage debts, we still had a structured (that is, on purpose) operating deficit of almost $2.5 million per year. Since then, we have been working hard to make expenses approximate revenue. Last year, we closed the fiscal year with a 90% improvement: a $242,000 operating deficit."

Dunkel said the seminary had recently been re-accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). "Together we have transformed a question mark over Chelsea Square into a clear exclamation point for the future!" He also announced a new degree program that will allow for a wide range of students who plan not to enter the ordination track. For the record, nearly 50% of TEC's parishes have part time or retired and non-stipendiary priests because they cannot afford a full-time priest as parishes age and die.


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