[Episcopal News Service] The General Theological Seminary and Virginia Theological Seminary, The Episcopal Church’s longest operating seminary, announced Aug. 16 they will formally enter into an affiliation agreement going into full effect this summer, according to a press release.
“This new relationship between these two great seminaries of the church represents a truly creative possibility for faithfully, effectively, and strategically forming leaders for the movement of Jesus Christ through the church, and for the sake of our 21st century world,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in affirming the affiliation.
Leveraging the cultural and historic strengths of both schools, GTS and VTS now will begin together to provide “future seminarians a rich Anglican theological education, spiritual direction, and robust professional training through an innovative, shared governance structure and a range of joint programs and services,” the release said.
In June, the seminaries announced they were considering an affiliation, citing financial struggles at GTS, whose campus is in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. The affiliation partly hinged on General Convention’s granting authority to the GTS board of trustees to modify the seminary’s constitution, which convention granted when it met in Baltimore, Maryland, in July.
Both institutions will retain their strategic initiatives, accreditations, endowments and campuses but share “an innovative overlapping governance structure, common executive leadership team, and a range of shared services and programs.” Per the agreement, VTS will invite one-third of the membership of the GTS board to join its board, with full voice and vote. This newly expanded VTS board will then be invited by the GTS board to serve as the controlling member of the GTS board of trustees. The result will be an expanded board that shares oversight of the two institutions, according to the release.
The two institutions will hold senior leadership in common. The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, who was appointed dean and president of VTS in 2007, will continue in that role and as president of GTS. The Very Rev. Michael W. DeLashmutt, who has served as acting dean and president of GTS since May of 2021, will become GTS’ dean of chapel and senior vice-president.
“The future needs to be one where there is more cooperation rather than competition – where the priority is the Gospel and where we work on strengthening The Episcopal Church for the future,” Markham said. “This affiliation allows for more innovation and more opportunities. The ethos of The General Theological Seminary, with its deep commitment to catholicity and liturgy, will continue to be a central part of the future.”
“Our lofty goal is to create a kaleidoscopic vision of a seminary that proves to be a comprehensive, global, and inclusive institutional resource for the Church,” DeLashmutt explained. “The legacy of both schools means we can accomplish more in tandem than individually.”
Read the full press release here.