Trinity Church Wall Street awards $750,000 to Virginia Theological Seminary

Date: July 14, 2022

Media Contact: Curtis Prather

Tel: (703) 461-1782

[Virginia Theological Seminary] Trinity Church Wall Street has awarded $750,000 to Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) for the program: Connecting and Strengthening Ordained and Lay Leaders in Ministry and Mission Across the Communion. This special program, led by both the Thriving in Ministry Initiative (Thriving) and the Center for Anglican Communion Studies (CACS), seeks to strengthen the Church by developing adept, resilient leaders. The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of VTS, will oversee the grant.

“This important three-year grant from Trinity Church Wall Street enables us to progress leadership development simultaneously in The Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion as a whole,” Markham said.

A respected authority in systematic theology, social ethics, and religious diversity known for nurturing critical thinking leaders, Markham led VTS’ largest-ever capital campaign, garnering wide support for VTS’ vision for its 3rd century; and oversaw increased enrollment, selectivity, and diversity of the student body. A trained Christian ethicist and biblical scholar, he is a prolific author and has received many awards for scholarship and teaching.

$375,000 of the Trinity Church Wall Street grant will be used to strengthen and develop leadership capacities within The Episcopal Church.

Thriving has already worked successfully since 2018 in connecting and strengthening over 150 Episcopal priests, through a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment. Thriving strengthens leaders in varied ministry settings through sustained personal and peer-based mentoring and coaching. Trinity’s grant allows Thriving to expand and deepen its focus. Thriving will focus intently on training a next generation of clergy and laity as adept mentor-coaches, skilled in helping others become “leaders who learn” by using its cutting-edge resources for disciplined and courageous self-reflection, curious exploration, playful experimentation, and focused deliberate practice to build new patterns and habits for leadership. This process will help strengthen leaders in important areas for church leadership: community-building, conflict agility, building collaborative co-leadership, goal clarity and commitments, contextualizing community faith, deepening spiritual practice, and practicing public advocacy.

Thriving (now operating among the initiatives of Lifelong Learning at VTS) is directed by the Rev. David Gortner, Ph.D., and the Rev. Carol Pinkham Oak, D.Min., who combined have led many iterative learning and training programs. As prior faculty at VTS, Gortner taught, directed doctoral programs, and launched multiple community engagement projects for 11 years. Having taught and directed programs at seminaries for 17 years, Gortner has returned to parish ministry, as rector of St. Luke’s in Coeur d’Alene, ID. His work in evangelism, community engagement, faith development, and leadership development continues to shape life in the Episcopal Church and beyond. His books (Transforming Evangelism, Varieties of Personal Theology, and Around One Table) continue to be widely used. Pinkham Oak served as priest in urban and suburban parishes for over 33 years, is a board member of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, and has directed several programs over the past 20 years to develop clergy in early post-seminary years.

“We are thrilled to have such strong support from Trinity Church Wall Street as we move into a new phase in our Thriving in Ministry Initiative that will deepen our training of mentor-coach leaders committed to strengthening Episcopal Church leaders,” Gortner said. “Our work so far among women priests expanding in leadership, with clergy in Asian-American and Black ministry networks, with chaplains and rectors in Episcopal schools, among church planters and evangelists, and with clergy couples has already shown the benefits of working with mentors and peers on continuous self-development in leadership. This grant allows us to take Thriving to the next level, and to reach a wider array of church leaders.”

$375,000 of the Trinity Church Wall Street grant will be used to develop and strengthen leadership in three strategic groups within the Anglican Communion. 

The CACS portion of Connecting and Strengthening Ordained and Lay Leaders will focus on three targeted groups: young church leaders, seasoned bishops, and women in leadership roles at all levels. CACS is teaming with TEAC (Theological Education in the Anglican Communion) to design a specific curriculum for each group. The programs for young leaders will be based in local regions for efficiency and ecological responsibility. These regions include the Caribbean, Africa, Central America, and the Middle East. The programs will include mentored groups focused by language spoken (especially English, Spanish, Arabic and Swahili). Support for Anglican Communion bishops will continue the work of the Lambeth Design Group by providing opportunities for bishops to deepen their friendships, engage in Bible study and theological reflection, share visions and concerns, and provide support for one another, in ongoing conversations following the Lambeth Conference. Virginia Theological Seminary will host a conference celebrating the various ministries of women in leadership at all levels, providing opportunities for mentoring, building a network of sisterhood, and sharing strategies and practical wisdom for combating sexism.

The Rev. Katherine Grieb, Ph.D., director of CACS, will oversee this three-pronged approach to Anglican Communion leadership development. She has taught emerging leaders and new bishops since 1992 and has published widely on biblical interpretation, theological ethics, and preaching. One of the Six Preachers chosen by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, she has preached at Canterbury, Westminster Abbey, and St.Thomas Church, New York, among others. Grieb has served on Anglican Communion commissions and committees for over 20 years including the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission, The Inter-Anglican Commission on Unity, Faith and Order, and the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. Her book, The Story of Romans, is widely used in seminaries and colleges.

“The Center for Anglican Communion Studies at VTS is excited to support young leaders, seasoned bishops, and women in leadership roles throughout the Anglican Communion,” said Grieb. “The CACS team (Hartley Wensing, associate director, Courtney Henderson-Adams, administrative coordinator, and our student assistants) are thrilled to receive this grant. We are deeply grateful to partner with Trinity Church Wall Street on this project.”

VTS’ leadership initiatives will build on the past work of Thriving and CACS to contribute to a new culture of religious leadership, infusing it with people equipped with fresh tools, ways of thinking, patterns of inquisitive interaction deliberate practice, and the will to continue to grow. Connecting and Strengthening Ordained and Lay Leaders in Ministry and Mission Across the Communion will strengthen leaders’ faith-driven mindsets with practical skills to help them energize faith communities and organizations.

Trinity Church Wall Street, in its latest set of grants, has awarded $23.4 million to organizations in New York City, the U.S., and internationally. Among the 114 grants awarded by Trinity, 22 will support faith communities, including many Episcopal and Anglican churches, dioceses, and seminaries, in the U.S. and around the world. Trinity has a total of 535 active grants and had its largest year for grant-making in 2021 with $46 million in awards.


Founded in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those being ordained who received residential theological education. The Rt. Rev. Phillips Brooks, Ms. Verna J. Dozier, The Most Rev. John E. Hines, and The Rt. Rev. John T. Walker are just some of the brilliant leaders who have been formed on The Holy Hill. Visited by five U.S. Presidents, the VTS campus is rooted through the award-winning Immanuel Chapel, designed by Robert A.M. Stern and Associates, and the historic Bicentennial Hall. Both buildings are centered by a grove that was designed by Andrew Jackson Downing, who created the National Mall in Washington, D.C. VTS is home to the Center for Anglican Communion Studies, The TryTank Experimental Lab, as well as several major grant initiatives, including “Baptized to Life,” “Thriving in Ministry,” “Mutual Ministry,” and “Deep Calls to Deep.” Please visit us online to learn more:

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