Date: September 5, 2023
ALEXANDRIA, Va., September 5, 2023 – Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) today welcomed incoming and returning students at the start of the 2023/24 academic year. The incoming class includes 26 Master in Divinity, six Master of Arts, four Pathway to Ministry, and five Anglican Studies students from 23 dioceses across the United States, as well as from Ghana, Jamacia, Kenya, and South Africa.
The new academic year began with the traditional Opening Eucharist with Academic Procession. This year it included a Matriculation Rite for the first time, during which members of the entering class were asked to affirm their commitment to the VTS community.
The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., Dean and President of VTS, said: “Dear Siblings in Christ, we at Virginia Theological Seminary have been given the gift of community devoted to theological education and formation. Today we welcome those who have been called to ministry and sent to this place to be formed and educated, and we ask them to affirm their commitment to this community.”
VTS will mark its Historical Bicentenary this semester, during which the Seminary will reflect on its complicated history of 200 years of mission and ministry, as well as anticipate its third century of service in ways that take the good from the past and adapt appropriately to the future.
In his sermon at today’s Opening Eucharist, Dean Markham spoke of the challenges The Episcopal Church currently faces in terms of declining congregations and a clergy shortage. However, he reminded those gathered that the gift of the Gospel is an eternal horizon, and that we are constantly invited to look up.
He said: “To be a seminary is always to have our eyes looking up at the eternal horizon. But perhaps this semester, we do that work more deliberately than before. After five years of events, we finally arrive at the semester when we mark 200 years. Our obligation during this season is to remember our covenant obligations. We too are called to witness to God’s love and invite the world to participate in God’s reign. We too are called to live up to more exacting standards. We do this work because we are going to make a difference to the future.”
The start of the new academic year follows the successful conclusion of August Term, during which the incoming class were welcomed to campus for orientation, learning and worship.
Notes to editors:
For media enquiries, please contact Nicky Burridge, Vice President for Communications at VTS.
Tel: (703) 461-1782
Mobile: (703) 300-2876
About Virginia Theological Seminary:
Virginia Theological Seminary was founded in 1823 by St. Paul’s Church in Alexandria, Virginia. It is the strongest seminary in the Anglican Communion and has a long tradition of shaping faithful women and men, lay and ordained, for leadership in The Episcopal Church and beyond. The seminary provides more than 25 percent of the clergy of The Episcopal Church.