Word has been coming to me through both public and private channels that things are in a very bad way at General Theological Seminary. As most readers know, I have a special place in my heart for General as M did her Anglican Year there; ever since then, I’ve hoped to some day return there to teach in some capacity. How long the seminary will be in operation, though, seems to be a live issue.
Between events at Seabury-Western, the unfolding events at General, and similar situations at other places, we can no longer pretend that the twentieth-century models for clergy education will remain stable and static through the twenty-first. Free-standing denominational seminaries are becoming endangered species.
The very real—and realistic—discussion that needs to happen throughout our church needs to center around clergy formation. This is related to, but is a different beast from, clergy education. There are certain academic competencies that clergy must have beyond a typical four year degree. However, I don’t believe that the core competencies that clergy require can be met solely through academic instruction. Formation rooted in our distinctive spiritual practices are essential for the production of clergy who are both effective and Episcopal.