Episcopal Seminary Funeral March Underway?


Episcopal Seminary Funeral March Underway?

In a surprise move, the Board of Trustees for one of the 10 schools educating Episcopal Church seminarians has voted to cease granting degrees at the conclusion of the 2016-2017 school year. It is unclear how Episcopal Divinity School of Cambridge, Massachusetts might continue on, with the board stating that it “will explore options for EDS’s future” in the coming year.

“A school that has taken on racism, sexism, heterosexism, and multiple interlocking oppressions is now called to rethink its delivery of theological education in a new and changing world,” declared former Washington National Cathedral Dean and EDS Board Chairman Gary Hall in an official announcement. “Ending unsustainable spending is a matter of social justice.”

Hall has significant history with multiple theologically progressive, financially struggling institutions: he also presided over the final years of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary of Evanston, Illinois before it merged with Bexley Hall Seminary of Ohio to form Bexley-Seabury. In 2015, Hall announced that he was stepping down as head of the National Cathedral early, in order for another official to be named that could complete a 10-year fundraising campaign to stabilize the financially struggling church.

The Episcopalian Church in the US has been imploding for decades. Most visible has been their steady membership decline. This article shows that there is a financial implosion in progress as well (understandably - declining membership will result,sooner or later, in declining donations).

Maybe former Presiding Bishop Janet Schori should have spent those millions of $$ expended to take away properties from seceding congregations somewhere more worthwhile. If the Episcopalian Church in the US survives in some form I don’t think Janet Schori will be remembered as one of the church’s better leaders.


The article title reminds me of the old scarcastic nickname for seminaries in the Jesus People era, “Cemeteries”. It was a reference to spiritual deadness, but as has been seen in the severe decline of several mainline (= theologically liberal) Protestant denominations, spiritual deadness leads to declining membership and financial deadness.


Being a member of the Episcopal church I must agree. I have talked about this to my wife a lot over the past few years. We are still active, but barely so in our church. Going to church is an exercise in sit there listen to what is said, put money in the plate and go home. Whereas I want discussion and applicability to today and what is happening across our nation and the world. The min I or anyone brings up anything newer than about a 1000 year old headline its negated by w"we don’t discuss that".

I go, I sit, I listen and I learn nothing, not wiser than when I came in the door.


I’ve only been to a few, but when I’ve gone it seems to me that they don’t prioritize childcare and events for children. The only churches I see growing, are aggressively built around reaching out to parents and giving them things to do with their children.


I was an Episcopalian from age 7 until I was just over 30 when I finally got fed up with the headlong rush to the left by the church hierarchy. The final straw for me was the investiture of an openly-lesbian “bishop” in New England. I despaired for the church when they “revised” the 1928 Book of Common Prayer to make it “gender neutral,” whatever that means. They even reworded the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds, and removed Battle Hymn of the Republic from the hymnals because it was “too militant!” There had been a time in my late teens when I’d seriously thought about becoming an Episcopal priest and one of my church’s members even offered to pay my way through college if I decided to go that route. By the time I was 25, I was thankful that I’d dodged that bullet.


My ex-son-in-law has transferred his membership to an offshoot, the United Episcopal Church. I think they still use the 1928 Common Book of Prayer. I do know he has a copy of it. I was talking to him on the phone once, and I was telling him how the call to the communion table went in the Free Methodist church - at least, when I was young. He had his mother’s Common Book of Prayer handy, and as I started reciting it as well as I could remember, he starting reading from the book, and it was identical.


The slide into unfaithfulness by the Episcopalian Church and so many other mainline Protestant denominations has been sad to me. Human organization - regardless of denomination - means little to me, except as it functions to enable the work Jesus called the church (all of His followers) to do. But in these organizations are many congregations and people who have invested decades and centuries and generations of lives in serving our Lord through these denominations. And now hundreds of thousands or millions of believers have seen or are seeing those organizations rejected their Lord, and purging their organizations of true followers of Jesus.

Individuals and congregations are fleeing these denominations, decisively, but reluctantly. And painfully.