FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Alexandria, VA –The Rev. Joseph M. Constant, director of Ethnic Ministries and Student Life at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), has just release a new book, No Turning Back: the Black Presence at Virginia Theological Seminary (Evergreen Press), which endeavors to capture the story of racism in the life of Virginia Seminary and the Bishop Payne Divinity School.
No Turning Back was written in response to the 2006 General Convention Resolution A123 in which The Episcopal Church resolved to “acknowledge its history of participation in [slavery] and the deep and lasting injury which the institution of slavery and its aftermath have inflicted on society and on the Church.” The letter of apology from Dean Markham included in the book is an explicit acknowledgement of the Seminary’s own failures and is reflective of the commitment of the Seminary to address its own failures in eradicating racism.
No Turning Back also ensures that the rich history and tradition in the Episcopal Church amongst African Americans–particularly as it relates to theological education at VTS–is not lost.
“The total impact of this book is striking,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Seminary. “It is a powerful analysis and narrative of an institution’s interaction with unjust structures and a powerful challenge to us all to make the world different for the future.”
In addition to an introduction and contributions by the Rev. Lloyd A. Lewis, Jr., Ph.D., the Seminary’s Molly Laird Downs Professor of New Testament, the book includes a historical narrative and interviews with several of the black graduates of VTS. “My interviews with the graduates of Virginia Theological Seminary,” said Constant, “bear witness to the fact that those who are concerned with racial justice must pay close attention to the future of theological education since there is ‘no turning back.’”
A 2003 graduate of VTS, Mr. Constant comes to VTS following service at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC. Born in Haiti, Mr. Constant is the founder of the Haiti-Micah Project, a nonprofit Christian organization committed to addressing the most basic needs of impoverished and uneducated street children in Haiti.
Asserted Constant, “It is my hope this book will open a dialogue at a Diocesan and local Church level and at seminaries as we examine the future of the Episcopal Church and the future of our black membership.”
Copies of No Turning Back are now available at the Cokesbury Bookstore on the VTS campus and can be purchased by calling 703-461-1768.
Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those being ordained who received residential theological education. Visit us online at www.vts.edu.