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A sermon preached by Professor Emeritus Donn Morgan at an evensong memorial for Bishop Frederick H. Borsch on May 17 in All Saints' Chapel:

We gather tonight to remember and give thanks for the life and ministry of Frederick Houk Borsch.  Fred touched many of us here tonight directly, but the difference he made for the church, the academy, and this school goes far beyond that.  Of one thing I am certain, Fred would want more than remembrance and thanksgiving here tonight—he would also want, in the context of this worship service—a proclamation of the gospel, something that challenged and motivated us to live out our faith fully and well.  In many ways Fred would join with the apostle Paul tonight, saying: “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

“Because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  Sounds wonderful, but not always easy to say, to believe, to act on.  One of my first and most vivid memories of Fred Borsch can be related to challenges of faith like this.    Among the many new practices that Fred brought to CDSP was regular “Quiet Days,” times for a stop in the routine, away from campus—a chance for reflection and prayer together,  a common meal, a solitary walk in the woods ... It was our first Quiet Day.   Fred was, appropriately, our leader.  There we were, out at the beautiful Franciscan retreat center, San Damiano, and Fred was speaking in the chapel.  He spoke of his own struggles with God, and how he found himself at some point alone in a chapel screaming: GOD DAMN IT, GOD, LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO!  In the midst of a serene and peaceful quiet time—that woke me up. Those words, not often heard from Fred, were a testimony to a real and abiding—if sometimes challenging and frustrating—relationship between Fred and God.  Whatever else we remember about Fred, that relationship with God, that connection with God, and the resultant commitment to serve the world in God’s name—these were at the center of Fred’s life and ministry.

Memories of Fred’s life in the academy and here at CDSP illuminate a way we may interpret our lessons tonight from Daniel and Corinthians. These texts touch a central part of the Christian faith: the mystery and promise of resurrection, life after death.  Fred’s early New Testament studies focused on the “son of man” (or, as translated tonight, “the one in human form”), that enigmatic figure responsible for many of the later visions and proclamations of Daniel—including the prediction of a deliverance of the people of God—some of whom now sleep in the dust of the earth.  In the middle of very hard and oppressive times comes the promise of life anew.  For the son of man and for Fred God is and will always be right in the middle of it all this difficult stuff.  So also for us.

In Corinthians we have the conclusion of a pretty extensive discussion of the resurrection of the dead.  Questions like: “Is there such a thing?” “What kind of body is raised?” “Is it perishable?” “Is it imperishable?” are raised. That discussion, a very serious one in New Testament times, is no less serious today. Many years ago Fred was writing an article on resurrection. He invited the faculty to read a draft and to come together to discuss what resurrection really means. I won’t rehearse the conversations and positions taken that night, except to say that Fred was pushing us all to talk about this most important and most difficult part of our faith—as scholars and as faithful Christians.  Tonight’s passage, with its strong affirmation of change and transformation, expressed for most of us, including Fred, a clear, compelling, and abiding reality—again with God and Jesus Christ right in the middle of it all.  So also for us.

Aside from his work as a scholar and teacher,  Fred was the dean and president of CDSP.  To this work he brought a deep commitment to education in general and theological education in particular. As an Anglophile educated for a time in England, Fred began an exchange program with an English theological college (in which CDSP’s present dean of the chapel participated, among many many others), encouraged faculty to live amidst students (like university “dons” of yesteryear), initiated the practice of student retreats (initially with the dean alone) and quiet days.  Fred was clearly a “student” dean in the sense that this was the constituency at CDSP he most identified with.  Not only in the classroom, but also on the basketball court, on the golf course, at a baseball game, at the bridge table—in all of these places Fred was found with students and friends, playing as hard as he worked!  Besides classroom and recreational venues, Fred had two other favorite places at CDSP:  this chapel and his study (located approximately where the present kitchen at Easton is).   In my time at CDSP I can remember no one—dean, faculty member, or student—for whom chapel worship was more important and more central.   Worship, as leader but perhaps especially as a congregant, provided Fred with time both individual and communal, with time both quiet and loudly celebrative, with time that sustained and refueled. 

During his years at CDSP Fred seemed infected with a joie de vivre, with a love of study, of the Bible, of the seminary, and of the church that was contagious to most who came to know him.  Though a serious man, he was also a jokester, willing to participate in pranks, to laugh at himself—to testify to the fact he did not have all the answers, all the power, all the influence—but that the God whom he loved and served did.  Increasingly over the years after leaving CDSP Fred seemed, at least to me, to become more and more an institutional person, albeit with a prophetic tinge, since he was always an advocate for change and transformation in whatever institution he served. Surely this institutional character is reflected in the offices he held—but more important perhaps in his growing belief that institutions like universities and dioceses and seminaries, as well as a multitude of others (from publishing houses to city halls!)—were, or could be, the vehicles for living faithfully and well with Christians and non-Christians in this God-given world.

Fred Borsch: servant of the church and academy, educator and priest, advocate and bishop, faithful and modest Christian, teacher and proclaimer of the gospel. Tonight we remember this very young and relatively inexperienced scholar who came to work with a very distinguished and senior faculty pretty well set in its ways. Despite its leadership in liturgical reform and its liberal leanings, Fred’s job, among others, was to challenge CDSP’s faculty to change still more. Through his charm, his guile, his God-given brains and gracefulness—and, he would be sure to say, a lot of pushing by the Holy Spirit—he helped shape a faculty and a seminary that would be ready for the huge transitions happening in the church in the 1970’s. Thanks in part to that shaping, CDSP has been and continues to be a national leader in theological education initiatives.

Tonight the life and ministry of Fred Borsch call us to remember and to do three things as we seek to “be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord.”  

  • First, be engaged—with God, with each other, with the church and other institutions as vehicles for change.  Pray hard, study hard, love hard—as team players.  We can’t do any of this by ourselves, without the ONE who is the be all and end all of our lives and ministries. 
  • Second, Take time off for play, for reflection, for perspective, for rejuvenation, for graceful revelation.  Find a healthy balance and integration of rest and relaxation with the intense work of engagement. 
  • Finally, and this is surely the bottom line for us tonight, as it was for Fred Borsch:  Give thanks to God.  For the gift of life—with its mysteries, with its tragedies and challenges, with its opportunities to love and serve.   For the gift of each other—as companions along the way.  For those wise ones, like Fred Borsch, who shine like the brightness of the sky and who help us to know that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.

Amen.

Watch a video of the service online.

The Rt. Rev. Frederick H. Borsch, retired bishop of Los Angeles, who served as dean and president of CDSP from 1972-80, died on April 11 at his home in Philadelphia. He was 81 and had begun treatment for a blood cancer last fall.
 
On May 17 at 5:30 pm, during the spring board of trustees meeting, CDSP will hold a service of evensong to celebrate Bishop Borsch's life. The Rt. Rev. Barry Beisner '78, who studied at CDSP under Borsch's leadership, will officiate, and Professor Emeritus Donn Morgan, who served on the faculty during Borsch's tenure, will preach.
 
"I met Fred Borsch early in his career when he was dean of CDSP," said Dean Richardson. "What stands out from then and the years that followed was his humble but firm and prophetic leadership, whether in the classroom, the chaplaincy at Princeton, or as bishop of Los Angeles. He lived a beautiful balance of the pastoral and prophetic ministries called out of him. Fred was also a scholar for the church, leaving us a great gift in the form of sermons and essays on the New Testament parables and other writings. CDSP remains indebted to his visionary leadership."
 
The New York Times chronicled Borsch's lifelong commitment to justice and equality. "When riots erupted in Los Angeles, fed by the acquittal of four police officers accused of beating a black taxi driver, Rodney King...Bishop Borsch wrote, 'In biblical terms, if the society fails to care for the poor, for the widows, the orphans and the strangers in their midst, that society will come to tragedy.'" 

Watch a recording of the service here.

Scott MacDougall, a scholar whose research centers on ecclesiology and eschatology, has been named assistant professor of theology at Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

MacDougall, who holds a master of arts in theology from General Theological Seminary and a PhD from Fordham University, has been a visiting assistant professor at CDSP since 2015. He has also taught at Fordham.

“During the last two academic years, all of us at CDSP have benefitted from Scott’s clear theological voice, his enthusiasm for seminary life, and his passion for theological dialogue and reflection. I am delighted that he has agreed to accept this position and continue shaping leaders for the church’s future,” said the Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, who was MacDougall’s advisor at General Theological Seminary.

MacDougall is the author of “More Than Communion:  Imagining an Eschatological Ecclesiology,” published in 2015 by Bloomsbury –T&T Clark, and has written for Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches and academic publications including the Anglican Theological Review, where he serves on the editorial committee. He has also appeared several times on the Homebrewed Christianity podcast.

“It’s a real honor to join CDSP’s faculty at this point in the institution’s life,” said MacDougall. “CDSP is seminary on the rise. Training clergy and laity for service in Christ’s church in a new age is no easy task. But that’s what CDSP is doing and I am excited to continue contributing to that work.” 

MacDougall is also an experienced grants manager who has worked for the Rockefeller Foundation and consulted for the Open Society Foundations, is married to Michael Angelo, founder and creative director of the prestigious Michael Angelo’s Wonderland Beauty Parlor in New York.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will give the address at CDSP’s 123rd Commencement on May 19 at 10:30 am at the Chapel of the Great Commission at Pacific School of Religion. The event is open to the public and will be broadcast live online at www.cdsp.edu.

He will also preside at the baccalaureate Eucharist at 5:45 pm on May 18 at CDSP’s All Saints Chapel.

Curry, the first black presiding bishop in the church’s history, is a graduate of Hobart College and the Yale University Divinity School. Since his election in 2015, he has worked to focus the church’s energies on evangelism and racial reconciliation in the context of “the Jesus movement.”

“Our leaders need to know how to help a community of people—a church—to both listen to the ways of faith and share faith,” Curry said in an interview for the upcoming issues of Crossings, CDSP’s magazine. “They need to know how to organize a community to be a community that is genuinely and authentically evangelical in the best sense of that word, in the biblical sense, a community of good news.”

In his Crossings interview, Curry said community organizing training had taught him, “how to provide leadership in a variety of settings, but particularly in a church.”

The Very Rev. Mark Richardson, CDSP’s dean and president, said Curry’s visit comes at a propitious time. “The presence of Presiding Bishop Curry among us at this most important time of year of commencement is a great honor. We will be uplifted by his passion and wisdom as we also share with him the steps CDSP is taking to form leaders for the church’s future.

“Our revised curriculum focuses on mission, discipleship and evangelism, and we now require a course in community organizing that equips students with skills in building relationships within congregations, and for leading congregations into the neighborhood.

“It is particularly fortunate that during the Presiding Bishop’s visit, he will demonstrate the power of the church’s leadership in the civic sphere by participating in the Diocese of California’s conference Eco-Justice: Safeguarding Climate, Food and Water.”

At the commencement, CDSP will award the Master of Divinity degree to seven candidates, including the first graduate from its low-residency program, and will also grant degrees or certificates to 13 students who have completed one of the following courses of study: the Doctor of Ministry, the Certificate of Anglican Studies, the Certificate of Theological Studies, the Certificate of Advanced Ministry Studies, and the Master of Arts degree in cooperation with the Graduate Theological Union.

The seminary will also grant honorary degrees to Curry, the Rt. Rev. Martin Barahona, retired bishop of El Salvador, who has been a staunch advocate for human rights in his country and survived a 2010 assassination attempt, and the Rev. Dr. Jae-Jeong Lee, superintendent of education in Gyeonggi province, South Korea, a lifelong advocate for higher education, human rights, democracy and the reunification of the Korean peninsula.

The Rev. Andrew Hybl CAS ’12 will become CDSP’s dean of students in May when the Rev. L. Ann Hallisey DMin ’05 retires from that position, the Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, president and dean, announced today. 

Hybl has served as director of admissions and recruitment at CDSP since 2014. In his new role, he will serve as pastor to CDSP’s students, foster student community on campus and among low residence students, and oversee initiatives to connect CDSP students with students across the Graduate Theological Union. He will also oversee admissions and recruitment strategy.

Hallisey, who has been CDSP’s dean of students since 2011, is an executive coach, a spiritual director and retreat leader, and a licensed marriage and family therapist. She plans to focus on her coaching practice and organizational consulting work. Hallisey lives in Davis with her husband, the Rt. Rev. Barry Beisner, who is the bishop of Northern California.

“I’m extraordinarily grateful to Ann for her dedicated years of service to CDSP and for the care she has shown our students, especially in their transitions from seminary to ministry around the wider church,” Richardson said.

“We will miss her faithful presence, but we are delighted that Andrew Hybl, whom Ann has mentored for nearly a decade, will step into her role. He has been an excellent director of admissions, and his lively ministry has already made CDSP a better place. I look forward to seeing his sense of fun and passion for faithful leadership at work in this new role.”

Before joining CDSP, Hybl was curate and associate at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Conway, Arkansas. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, Pacific School of Religion, and CDSP, and is a Navy veteran who served in the Iraq War. He lives in Oakland, California with his wife, Julie, and their children, Oliver and Alice.

When Hybl takes on his new role, Jamie Nelson MTS ’15, who has been CDSP’s admissions and hospitality coordinator since 2015, will become manager of admissions. He will oversee the administrative and organizational aspects of the admissions process, working closely with Hybl.

Nelson, a native of Washington and graduate of the University of Idaho and CDSP, is CDSP’s first out transgender employee. Prior to enrolling at CDSP, he was a newspaper reporter for the Wahkiakum County Eagle in his hometown.

“Jamie’s thoughtful diligence and attention to each applicant’s strengths are a great boon for our admissions effort,” Richardson said. “I am very glad to have this opportunity for him to assume more responsibility for our recruitment and build even stronger relationships with our prospective students.”

What does sexuality have to do with faith? Plenty, says Leslie A. Choplin who is the keynote speaker at the fifth annual CDSP Youth Ministry Symposium on March 18. And the church needs to talk about it.

“Young adults and teenagers today are demanding more and better sexuality education,” says Choplin, co-author of "These Are Our Bodies: Talking Faith and Sexuality at Church and at Home," part of a new curriculum from Church Publishing. “The Christian church has remained quiet and fearful for too long on such an important topic. …We cannot separate our sexuality from who we are; we cannot separate our body and soul.”

Choplin has spent more than a decade as a director of Christian education, sexual misconduct prevention trainer, facilitator, and speaker in Episcopal congregations across the United States. She is currently the program assistant in the Ph.D. program at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work.

“Issues of sexuality are used by political and some religious cultures to divide people,” Choplin says. “I believe we are called to open the conversation about sexuality, our values, morals, and ethics to help unify people and ensure there is space at the table for everyone. This does not mean that we must all agree, simply that we make space and keep ourselves open.”

Sexuality is a gift from God, Choplin says, and should be treated as such.

“God said that all of God's creation is very good. Eroticism, creativity, and desire are part of the beauty of the world,” she says. “The desire to be in the sun, to feel its sensual energy, and hear the peaceful crashing of ocean waves, the warm touch of a friend, the snuggles of a baby. Each of us draws power and energy from God's creation. The world is fragile and needs us to love and care for it, honoring its sacredness.

“In many ways I think this mirrors how we should explore sexuality and faith,” Choplin says. “Our bodies are sacred and should be treated with honor. People still struggle to understand consent and power in sexual relationships. People struggle with power over each other for control of land and resources. My hope is that the more we are able to learn to live in harmony with each other, the more we will learn to live in harmony with the earth, and vice versa.”

In 2014, Choplin was one of several people approached by Church Publishing Incorporated to help develop a sexuality curriculum. The Episcopal Church’s publishing house was fielding requests from across the church, especially for a middle school curriculum on sexuality. Choplin and her co-author, Jenny Beaumont, were part of a group convened by Church Publishing editors to brainstorm possibilities.

The new curriculum, being published in stages, provides church leaders and parents with accurate information and language that can help them create a safe space for talking about human sexuality in light of both Christian faith and progressive, inclusive values.

The program’s foundation book, written by Choplin and Beaumont is available now. It is especially recommended for facilitators, small group leaders, and parents. The middle school age program module—written by Beaumont and Abbi Long—also is available. It includes ten developmentally appropriate, faith-based sessions, a guide for leaders and books for both participants and parents.

Modules for use with children ages three to 11, high school students, young adults and adults are under development.

“Sometimes you’ll hear from people who say, ‘Oh, the school will cover that information, so I don’t need to worry about that.’ I disagree,” Choplin says. “Our parents are our primary sex educators, so equipping them to convey that information in a positive way is very important. ... We’re trying to provide accurate information that allows us to say there is more to this than ‘this is the mechanics’ and ‘this is the plumbing,’ because there’s so much more about our sexuality.”

And while Choplin’s keynote address at CDSP will focus on youth, she says young people aren’t the only ones who can benefit from discussions about sexuality.

“We’re not just talking about the health and well-being and spiritual life of teenagers,” Choplin says. “We need to be able to recognize that there is an intersection in our faith and our sexuality that is lifelong and needs to be addressed in some way.

“I think God wants us to enjoy sex and our sexuality in all its forms. I imagine that God is saddened by our continued struggles to embrace one another in kindness and love. Through programs like “These Are Our Bodies,” we can work toward embracing the light of Christ in each other.”

Less than 48 hours before Donald Trump took the oath of office, CDSP students enrolled in this year’s Organizing for Public Ministry course traveled across the San Francisco Bay to San Rafael to learn about the threats faced by immigrants in the current political climate.

The meeting, which drew more than 300 people, was called by the Marin Organizing Committee, part of the Bay Area Industrial Areas Foundation to which CDSP belongs. Both San Rafael Police Chief Diana Bishop and Dennis Rodoni, a Marin County Supervisor, attended and committed to work on immigrants’ issues.

One woman, reported the Marin Independent Journal, said she was told by a prospective landlord, “We have a new president; you and your people are going to be deported.” Other immigrants reported problems with overcrowding, lack of maintenance, unannounced rent increases, and evictions.

Portia Hopkins, a first-year student in the low-residence MDiv program, said she was moved by the stories of the immigrants at the meeting and impressed at the technique organizers used to share them.

“There was an enormous amount of power in the way they gathered people into circles and encouraged them to share their stories,” she said. Group leaders then gave a summary of each group’s conversation to the entire crowd. The elected leaders who attended were visibly moved by the stories, says Hopkins, as was she.

“There is such power in the voice of the individual,” she says. “These are people who don’t have any power, and don’t feel like people are listening to them. But they have stories.”

For Kathleen Moore ’19, hearing from immigrants about the discrimination they face lent urgency to the community organizing class, required for all MDiv students.

“In the current political climate, it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and defeated,” Moore says. “I was inspired by the way broad-based community organizing breaks up the hard work, and encourages us to focus on local, ‘winnable’ fights. It starts with real conversations and it’s all about building relationships. It was inspiring to see families in San Rafael tell their stories and have their concerns acknowledged by the police chief and county supervisor.

“Right now, using the IAF approach of simply getting to know our neighbors in our communities seems like a particularly effective and appropriate way for churches to make a difference and to combat that feeling of helplessness,” she says.

Academic Dean Ruth Meyers, who taught the course in tandem with IAF organizers, says the week-long intensive training develops skills, tools and theoretical capacity for community organizing, and helps students connect community organizing to Christian faith and practice. “What many students come to understand is that organizing is not just for work that happens in the wider community,” she says. “Congregational development is also a kind of community organizing, and through this course, CDSP students are building their ability to make the boundaries between the church and the world more porous.”

For the Rev. Rafael Pereira of the Diocese of Nevada, a student in that diocese’s local formation program, the event had biblical meaning. “The action at San Rafael was exactly living out the Gospel when Jesus fed the 5,000,” he says. “It was a rainy day, especially at the time we traveled to San Rafael, and I could compare my feelings with the disciples, when they questioned Jesus. I thought that just a few people were going to show up due to the weather. When we got there and saw the large crowd, we became one community working together for justice and the needs of our brothers and sisters, for the common good.

“Organizing people and organizing money will lead you to change the world.”