VIRGINIA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
VIRGINIA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
Chair of the Board
An anniversary of two hundred years is significant. The world was very different two hundred years ago: the horse was the primary mode of transport; the United States of America was still a young country on the international stage; there were few technological aids for living and life; and, of course, television and email were literally inconceivable.
The Anglican tradition on these shores was in trouble. Any connection with Great Britain was controversial. A group of men decided to commit to the enterprise of theological edition by creating an American institution for the training of priests. It was in this environment that Virginia Theological Seminary was born.
As we mark this significant journey, the Board of Trustees has determined this is a story that needs to be told with detail and texture. A key part of that work is acknowledging the deep sins of the past. We were active participants in the evil of slavery and subsequently segregation and Jim Crow. An important part of this anniversary is acknowledging the sin of the past and identifying and naming those who worked so hard on this campus before and after the Civil War.
2022 and 2023 have been designated by the Seminary as two years for remembrance and recognition. Through a variety of events described in this booklet, the Seminary undertakes a journey to its third century of service. Do please browse this booklet.
Hopefully there will be an opportunity when you, too, can participate in marking this historic moment.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
David H. Charlton, Ph.D.,
Chair, Board of Trustees
Dean & President
Virginia Theological Seminary was founded on October 15, 1823.
We are now on the cusp of our Historic Bicentenary. It is a significant milestone, one that invites an appropriate pause for self-reflection and analysis.
Christians are called to be conscious of the passing of time. The temptation to treat each day as just “another” day must be resisted. Each day is a gracious gift from God; and each day is an invitation to grow every deeper into our relationship with God. The joy of the church calendar is that we think differently about time; each season in the calendar invites us to walk ever closer with our Lord. We shift our perspective from the immediate and ephemeral to the eternal and enduring.
As we do each year, so we should do with the passing of the decades and, especially, the centuries. We should pause and ask two questions: what is the nature of the journey we have thus far taken? And what is the nature of the journey that God wants us to take in the future?
At Virginia Theological Seminary, we are striving to faithfully and thoughtfully ask these questions. In this booklet you will learn about the range of events which will help us reflect on those questions. Along with a hymn, sonnets, and a mass setting, we have also commissioned art and a play. Our past is both fl awed and faithful; it reflects both sin and grace. To engage deeply with this past, we need to employ a variety of media.
Surrounding all this has been the Bicentennial Capital Campaign. Virginia Theological Seminary is the strongest seminary in the Anglican Communion. As the past worked hard to create the present; so, the present needs to bequeath to the future a Seminary ready to meet its challenges.
This booklet describes everything that we have been doing to mark this moment in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. It also describes everything that we plan to do in 2022 and 2023. We are not simply planning to invite you to come to the campus; we also want to go from the campus to visit with our alumni and friends. So the launch of the sonnets and the performance of the play and the reception honoring Leo Twiggs (who has painted “Sin” and “Grace” to mark our anniversary) are on the campus; but “marking the moment” events are being planned around the country. We want this to be a real opportunity for everyone to engage with this anniversary.
For the first time in our history, we trying to tell the complete story of the Seminary. Many of the events will recall our debt to African Americans who were exploited in the cruel system of enslavement and segregation. Opportunities will be given for us all to engage with this complete story.
Our goal over the next to years is to answer those two guiding questions about the nature of our journey. We look to the past to learn from the past. We will continue to witness to the saving power of the Lord Jesus, the transformative power of the Gospel, and commit to advancing the mission of God in the world. We are looking ahead to a Seminary that can in this third century of service “go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel.”
Yours in Christ,
The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.,
Dean and President
The Historic Bicentenary Committee
Ms. Amy Curtis,
Treasurer and Secretary to the Board of Trustees
Virginia Theological Seminary and the many Episcopal schools in the United States are inextricably linked. The importance of chaplaincy in Episcopal day and boarding schools cannot be underestimated, and the Seminary’s contributions to this group of committed priests and their mission is critical in helping these schools remain true to their mission in their communities.
The graduates of these Episcopal schools go out into the world with a sense of duty, compassion and sensitivity that is all too lacking in our fractured world. Many first hear the call to ministry in their religion classes and often choose to study at VTS. The Seminary supports the school chaplains with continuing education and lifelong learning opportunities.
Many return or choose to study for additional degrees while continuing their work in the school communities. Deans of the Seminary, including our current Dean, Ian Markham, serve on Episcopal school boards, and graduates and heads of Episcopal schools populate the VTS Board. The role of a Church School Chaplain is critical in the life of a school – from preaching, teaching, and mentoring young men and women as they navigate the joys and disappointments that are inevitable in a young life – to supporting the Head of School and administration and the community at large when tragedies or trials occur. It is often a lonely job and one that requires a particular type of person to skillfully and passionately carry out the chaplain duties. The training provided by VTS is crucial in helping those seeking to ascertain their call to this ministry. The role of parish priest is very different than that of a school chaplain. The individual must truly want to be in a school environment and understand the responsibilities of this unique role. Virginia Theological Seminary’s continued commitment to nurture this most important call is one that remains supremely important as we begin our third century of service to the Church and the world at large. Our graduates go out into the world to preach the gospel and those that choose chaplaincy can have an impact among our youngest and most at-risk neighbors. Imbuing our children with a confidence of belonging and a spirit of compassion and inclusivity is a special calling indeed.
The Rev. Dr. Harold Cobb,
Chair of the Community Life Committee
It is an honor to serve on the Board of Virginia Theological Seminary. I am especially proud of our decision to embark on a program of reparations for the sins of slavery and Jim Crow. It is this coming to grips with the past that makes it possible for the Seminary to make a difference in the future. I pray that this Historic Bicentenary will be a moment of renewal and hope.
Ms. Sissy Poland,
Former Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and one of the longest serving Board members
The work of marking this historic Bicentenary is important. It is an opportunity to give thanks to those who did good work in the past; it is an opportunity to acknowledge and repent of the sins of the past; and it is an opportunity to listen carefully to what the Church needs in the future. VTS belongs to the whole Church. I hope that everyone finds some way — whether via Zoom or in person — to attend one of these exciting events in this booklet.
The Rev. Troy Mendez,
Chair of the Trustees Committee
Congregations need seminaries. Leadership of a parish needs to be cultivated and trained. I’m thrilled to see the impact that VTS has on the Episcopal Church, on the country, and on the world. Imagine what God has for this place in the future! I am grateful to all those who are organizing, planning, and participating in such momentous occasions during the Bicentenary year to commemorate our life and ministry together.