At the same time, all the seminaries of the Episcopal Church face real economic and missional challenges. The stand-alone residential model developed in the nineteenth century is becoming unsustainable for most of our institutions. Bishops, congregations, and seminarians have fewer resources to allot to the education of seminarians. And the cost of theological education has resulted in an unprecedented level of student debt.
Like many other Episcopal Church institutions, over the past two decades Seabury has both confronted and thought hard about how it can adapt to the challenges and opportunities of the present moment. We have come to the realization that we cannot continue to operate as we have in the past and that there is both loss and good news in that. We believe that the church does not need Seabury in its present form; there are a number of other schools who do what we have traditionally done as well as we do. But we also believe that the church very much needs a seminary animated by and organized around a new vision of theological education””one that is centered in a vision of Baptism and its implications for the whole church, one which is flexible and adaptive and collaborative in nature. We are committed to Seabury’s historic and ongoing ministry as a vital center of theological education, reflection, and congregational study. We are enthusiastic about the prospect of doing this in a new and, we hope, more economically feasible and pedagogically innovative way. At its heart, Seabury will always be a school in service of the mission of God as proclaimed and enacted in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ….
After consultation with the faculty, students, and staff, the Planning Committee met on Tuesday, February 19, 2008. The Planning Committee asked the board’s Executive Committee to clarify its understanding of the long-range educational mission of Seabury, and it proposed two resolutions which the Executive Committee passed in the following form on Wednesday, February 20, 2008:
The Executive Committee affirms that Seabury will no longer offer the M.Div. as a freestanding 3-year residential program. This does not preclude offering the M.Div. in other formats.
The Executive Committee accepts the 3 following recommendations of the Planning Committee:
1. That Seabury will immediately suspend recruitment and admissions to all degree and certificate programs in this time of discernment.
2. That Seabury will enable all current D.Min. students to complete their programs.
3. That Seabury will assist all current M.Div., MTS, MA, and certificate students to find alternative arrangements for the completion of their programs as may be required.