Date: March 1, 2023
It was an interesting moment. At the Faculty meeting, there were some questions around the following theme: how is it possible to run two institutions at once? After all, advocates of an hybrid degree tend to be critical of residential programs; and advocates of the residential MDiv tend to be critical of distance degrees. In addition, there is only twenty fours in a day. What about one’s presence on the two campuses?
Our dilemma is one that many of our alumni will recognize. Increasingly, we have alumni serving two congregations. The smaller congregation in one town shares a Rector with the larger Episcopal church in the next town. I have learned from our alumni that it is true that it takes time to get accustomed to a world where leadership is shared. When I asked an alum how long did the system take to get accustomed to this new regime. She replied: “At least two years.”
I will be using the Commentary to reflect further on the challenges of the affiliation. I accept entirely that there are challenges; and I welcome feedback, comments, and observations. I will invite the Faculty to think with me in the May retreat. In addition, we will be thinking together about how to talk about each other’s programs (and almost certainly revising the text on websites and elsewhere). And I am eager for the communities to get to know each other. So, starting tomorrow, I will be introducing the small team at General Theological Seminary to the wider community of Virginia Theological Seminary. And as you read these introductory commentaries, I do invite you to hold each person in prayer. As part of our striving to live into this affiliation, let us gently honor those who are working hard to make it all work.
The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary and President of The General Theological Seminary