exterior view of seminaries

GTS/VTS Venture

The Episcopal Church’s oldest and largest seminaries have begun the process of exploring partnership options. “Purposefully walking together in as many ways as possible is our goal going forward” said the chairs of both boards, Dr. David Charlton (Virginia) and the Rt. Rev. Robert Wright (General). “We both put service to the church at the top of both of our missions.”

The Most Rev. Michael Curry, the 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, commented: “I am encouraged to hear that these two seminaries are exploring creative possibilities for how to more faithfully, effectively and strategically form leaders for the movement of Jesus Christ, through the Church, for the sake of the 21st century world. This is the crucial question. All other issues of practicalities and logistics must fall under the primary question of what serves our participation in the mission of God as followers of Jesus of Nazareth and his way of love and life.”

small seminaries GTS and VTS

General Seminary (GTS) was founded in 1817 as a resource for training clergy for the new Episcopal Church. It has lived into that service, and in the past decade has intentionally expanded to include degrees, certificates, and other educational offerings for lay church leaders. In its history, it has embraced the diversity of The Episcopal Church.

Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) was founded in 1823 and has become The Episcopal Church’s largest seminary. VTS has a passion for raising up missionaries which has led to deep connections in the Anglican Communion. Virginia Seminary has advocated a “generous orthodoxy” and continues to support congregations by raising up clergy and with a range of resources through webinars, continuing education, and websites.

These talks are building on the success of the TryTank Experimental Lab. Founded in 2019, the TryTank project was developed and shared between the two seminaries – both management and funding. “We want to see how this model can extend to other project possibilities,” explained the Very Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle, dean and president of GTS.

It is anticipated this season of discernment will culminate in some decisions in November of 2021.

FAQs

On Friday, January 8, 2021 the board of trustees for General Seminary (GTS) and the board of trustees for Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) simultaneously met. After extensive and thoughtful discussions, the two boards separately voted to embark on a process of “due diligence” on the understanding (subject to no major disruptive discoveries), that the two institutions will realize the goal of shared programming and some form of collaborative governance.

A stage of structured “due diligence,” in an overall path towed embracing ‘togetherness,’ is the first step of a three-stage process that will review the legal and financial state of each institution. The boards of VTS and GTS are hoping to receive reports back in early February 2021.

The other two parts in the process are “program opportunities” and “governance.”

The two seminaries aspire to create programming from the bottom up, through a process (comprised of groups) that is participatory and consultative.

The groups will include staff, faculty, students, alumni, and board members. Membership of the group will vary depending on the issue.

In addition to a shared program, part of the goal is shared leadership within a model that safeguards seminary identities and safeguards the assets and endowments of each institution.

The ultimate goal is two stronger institutions, with more faculty, more students, and more opportunities to create program that makes a real difference for the work of The Episcopal Church within the world.

No. This is an imaginative and innovative model of cooperation in a shared venture. GTS and VTS continue and remain separate legal entities, which can award degrees.

The two boards are very conscious of their stewardship of resources in theological education. They are aware that the challenges facing the Church are considerable. Their view is that working together will enable the two seminaries to do more than they can separately.

No. The gift is still applied to the seminary that you want to support.

All students admitted will get a degree from the institution to which they apply. The shared venture is not accredited; all degrees are either from GTS or VTS.

The “due diligence” step will run to early February 2021. The “program” work will run through to at least May 2021. Then we will attend to the “governance” issues. The institutions anticipate things will be clearer by November 2021.

The conversations will be facilitated by a third-party consultant, to be decided after the February 2021 board meetings.

Media Contact:

The Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija
TryTank
lorenzo@trytank.org

GTS Contact:

Joshua A. Bruner
General Seminary
bruner@gts.edu

VTS Contact:

Curtis Prather
Virginia Theological Seminary
cprather@vts.edu