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The Lawrence Kristin Mikkelsen Preaching Scholarship at CDSP, established by St. John’s Episcopal Church, Aptos, California, is awarded to a CDSP student who has demonstrated outstanding promise as a preacher and a commitment to social justice and human dignity. The 2016 recipient of the scholarship is Aaron Klinefelter '18, who preached this sermon at St. John's on October 23: 

Holy Spirit, come. Calm our tempest and trouble our waters. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Amen.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who came to visit a new church. She was wearing a bold red hat with the words “Make America Great Again” emblazoned across the front. She came up for Eucharist and weeping she took the bread and wine giving thanks and praise for God’s deep and abiding love and forgiveness.

Standing in the back of the nave, sipping on their fair trade coffee in environmentally sustainable recycled, compostable paper cups, several church leaders gathered to whisper gossip about this unexpected visitor. “What was she doing here?” “How could she be supporting him?!” “It’s just deplorable!”

Once upon a time, there was a young man who came to a new church. He was wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt. During the Prayers of the People he tearfully called out a lament for the young, unarmed black men who have been shot this last year.

During coffee hour, several seasoned vestry members were discussing his “political statement” and whether or not the church should be supporting this kind of behavior. “We welcome everybody, shouldn’t we just be saying, All Lives Matter?” “He should keep his politics private and not try to indoctrinate others, church is about feeling God’s love.”

One of these scenarios, or both, might make you uncomfortable. The nice thing about being a guest preacher is you get to say outlandish things and then leave. But in all honesty, these little vignettes make me uncomfortable too.

The 2016 Alumni Convocation on October 13 will include a forum from 3-4:30 pm with the Rev. Canon Rosa Lee Harden ‘99, one of the founders of SOCAP, which Harden describes as “a network of heart-centered investors, entrepreneurs, and social impact leaders who believe in an inclusive and socially responsible economy to address the world’s toughest challenges.”

SOCAP holds an annual conference in San Francisco that draws about 2500 attendees for presentations, conversations, and entrepreneurial pitches. The community that gathers each year for the event, says Harden, “is dedicated to accelerating a new market at the intersection of money and meaning.”

At CDSP, Harden, who is also canon for money and meaning at All Souls Cathedral in Asheville, North Carolina, will be joined by both her husband and SOCACP co-founder, Kevin Jones, and their colleague, Tim Soerens. The trio will lead a conversation about how Christian leaders and congregations can help build thriving neighborhoods and become financial anchors for communities in need by paying attention to what they do with all of their assets, including money. “If you come to this symposium,” says Harden, “be prepared to consider what it might look like if you, and your congregation, used all of your assets to love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

After the forum, Alumni Convocation attendees are invited to a reception before Convocation Eucharist at 5:45 pm. Former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori ’94, ’01 will preach at the service, and CDSP President and Dean W. Mark Richardson will preside. Harden, the Rev. Rodney Davis ’09, and the Rev. Canon Caryl Marsh ’77 will receive honorary degrees. Davis is a retired associate justice on the California Court of Appeal and Marsh is a former member of CDSP’s board and the retired rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City.

Register now for Alumni Convocation 2016. Questions can be directed to the Rev. Laurel Johnston ’06, director of alumni affairs and major gifts officer, at 510-204-0740 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Dean Richardson preached this sermon at the funeral of Bob Rybicki, CDSP's director of operations and personnel management, on September 10, 2016 at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.

We come together today in memory of the Rev. Bob Rybicki, priest of the church. We are here as Bob’s friends to support especially his husband Lee Ng. And we gather here in this place, in the context of the faith of the church, as a people of hope in God’s future, trusting that God is transforming and drawing all things into God’s own presence more fully and deeply.

Our scriptures readings today are about hope in God’s future. And about hope, the writers of Sacred scripture, including St. Paul in today’s reading, provide us only with picture language, words that depict and point but never define the mode in which God’s promise is fulfilled, as if to say that what we trust in is not our highest imagination about what is possible but God’s transformation of all things. 

So I begin this morning with the picture language of Paul. Bob was an urban creature through and through, whether in the streets of Chicago or the streets of the Bay area, but let your thoughts turn for a moment to Paul’s agrarian image of ‘sowing’. Essentially Paul is saying, one’s life now is like a seed, given away, placed in the soil.  Sown in our weakness and finitude, sown in the complex soil of a city and its struggles and all the struggles of history. The words of Paul are an echo of Jesus’ own words to his friends:  except a grain fall to the earth it abides by itself alone, and it does not bear much fruit. When it dies it bears much fruit.

It is as if, spiritually, our lives are to be in a continuous posture of being given away, sown into the soil of life surrounding us.  I want later to think of this in terms of God’s future in which we place our trust, but first in terms of what God is doing through our lives now, the present effects of our lives thrown into the soil of our own time and place. Bob planted his life into many places as if to give himself away in the service of life itself:  into his marriage with Lee, his friendships (he loved his friends—Barbara Kimport, you come to mind when I think of the reciprocity of this friendship), and into a professional life dedicated to God’s mission in the world. The planting of himself that I knew began barely two years ago in the fall of 2014. And what I witnessed over two years many of you have known for much longer.

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Video of the day's events

Join us at CDSP for a day of theological reflection, discussion and worship as we explore the church’s response to the crisis of climate change. Speakers will include former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is the current St. Margaret’s Visiting Professor of Women in Ministry; Bishop Marc Andrus of California, CDSP President and Dean W. Mark Richardson, and Professor Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, professor of theological and social ethics at CDSP and Pacific Lutheran Seminary of California Lutheran University.

Jefferts Schori will deliver the keynote address, titled “Creation and the Effective Word:  Holy Storytelling, Creation, and God’s Mission,” and Moe-Lobeda will give an address titled “Truthtelling, Inequity, and Christian Action.”

The day will culminate with a liturgy to bless CDSP’s new installation of solar panels led by Bishops Jefferts Schori and Andrus. The panels, installed on Easton, Parsons, and Shires Halls earlier in 2016, make up the largest solar installation of any theological seminary in the United States.

“This Fragile Earth” is designed for both laypeople and clergy who are active in environmental ministry and want to explore new opportunities for reflection and Christian action on behalf of our planet.

Registration is $35, which includes lunch. Register online now.

Schedule for This Fragile Earth:

10 am:  Welcome from Dean Richardson

10:10 am:  Opening Devotion with Bishop Andrus and Bishop Jefferts Schori

10:30 am:  Keynote Address from Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori:  “Creation and the Effective Word:  Holy Storytelling, Creation, and God's Mission”

11 am:  Q&A  

11:30 am:  Address from Professor Cynthia Moe-Lobeda:  “Truthtelling, Inequity, and Christian Action”

Noon:  Q&A   

12:30 pm:  Lunch

1 pm: Panel: Action and Advocacy with Bishop Marc Andrus; Lewis Maldondo, lay Christian activist, All Souls Berkeley; and Mark Carlson, director of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy for California. Dean Richardson moderating.

2 pm:  Final responses

2:30-3:30 pm:  Blessing of the Solar Panels, led by Bishops Jefferts Schori and Andrus

Phil Hooper, an experienced non-profit fundraiser and postulant from the Diocese of Nevada, has been named a Bishop’s Scholar at CDSP.

When Hooper, who was raised in northern California, heads to Berkeley later this month to begin his master of divinity studies, the trip will be another stage in what he calls a “long personal and spiritual journey to figure out what place I might have in my faith community.”

His call to ordained ministry began in high school when he moved to Michigan to finish high school and friends invited him to church. “I was raised in a family of spiritual seekers, but not in a church community,” Hooper says. “But when I was invited to a Lutheran [ELCA] church, I became aware in a conscious way of God’s presence in the world. Church became not just this place that people go to on Sunday morning, but Christian community that I wanted to understand and embrace.”

In college at the University of Mary Washington, however, Hooper came out as a gay man, and at the time, he felt as if he had to choose between his sexuality and his faith.

“I did walk away for awhile,” he says. “Not because I didn’t love God or the church, but I had to figure out a way to be authentic and hold those two parts of myself in communion with each other. Once I came to Las Vegas and found the Episcopal Church, it all clicked.” His current parish, Grace in the Desert, where he has been a member since 2014, is sponsoring him for ordination.

“Phil Hooper has been a real blessing to his Nevada congregation as leader of everything from the Holy Doubt millennials class to the stewardship campaign,” says the Rt. Rev. Dan Edwards, bishop of Nevada. “He brings intelligence and a gentle spirit to ministry. CDSP will be just the place to add the necessary academic foundation for what I know will be a missional vocation for years to come.”

For the last nine years, Hooper has worked for non-profit organizations in Las Vegas, including the state chapter of the ACLU and Nevada Ballet Theatre. Along the way, he earned a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit management.

“I’ve learned how to inspire people to support a cause,” he says. “I’ve found in this professional experience, like most things in life, it’s about building relationships. Now these skills I’ve been acquiring in the last nine years are pointing me toward a different path from what I expected, but maybe toward what God had been asking me all along.”

Not surprisingly, Hooper had choices about where to attend seminary. “People were offering all kinds of advice,” he says. “Before I visited CDSP, there were one or two other schools I was leaning toward. But from the moment I arrived on campus, I felt at home. There was academic rigor, and a commitment to community and prayer and all of the tools you need to pursue this path. But there was also a sense of humor and sense of humility. I just knew that’s where I was meant to do my studies.”

It makes sense to Hooper that rediscovering his faith in Las Vegas would lead him to seminary at CDSP. “I identify with the church in the west, where we have an understanding of our counter-cultural identity,” he says. In 2015, the religion research firm Barna reported that nearly 60% of Las Vegas residents qualify as post-Christian. “I’ve lived a lot of my life trying to understand my identity as someone at the periphery, and I live in an environment where people are devoted to God and the church, but understand our place in the broader context. I felt that same understanding more strongly at CDSP than anywhere else I visited.”

The Rev. Andrew Hybl, CDSP’s director of admissions says Hooper will fit well in the seminary’s community. “At CDSP, we’re continually seeking candidates with a natural ability to create community and challenge one another to live out their values,” says Hybl, CAS ’12, director of admissions. “Upon first meeting Phil in the fall of 2015 it was clear that he embodies these characteristics. We are fortunate to welcome him to our residential community and look forward to being a part of his further development.”

As he prepares to head to campus in a few weeks, Hooper particularly looks forward to CDSP’s new curriculum with its increased emphasis on spiritual formation and the opportunity, which began with the new summer reading list to study the bible from the perspectives of other cultures and contexts. Reading “Santa Biblia:  The Bible Through Hispanic Eyes,” for example, pushed him to think about how his own experiences have shaped his faith and his understanding of scripture. “That’s when growth as a Christian really occurs,” he says.

“I’m ready to jump in and be challenged in all ways.”

Dean Mark Richardson has announced that Caroline McCall MTS ‘15, will join CDSP as director of field education and lecturer in congregational studies in mid-November.

"We have created this new half-time position to integrate field placement more fully into our new curriculum, which requires that our students spend two full years in such placements," Richardson wrote to the CDSP community. "We also want to meet low residence students’ need for expertise and support during field placements in their local communities. Having a half-time faculty person dedicated to the work will ensure we can do so. Caroline will be fully included in the life of the faculty, and will participate in faculty meetings, advising, and worship. We are eager to have her on campus."

 

Since 2000, McCall has been an independent consultant providing leadership coaching and development, organizational planning, and board development to Episcopal dioceses and congregations and other not-for-profit groups. She is a member of the Diocese of Olympia’s College for Congregational Development and an active leader in the Diocese of California and at All Souls’ Parish in Berkeley.

"In my work as a consultant, coach, and trainer in the Episcopal Church, I have heard numerous clergy remark that they would have benefitted from more seminary course work in organization and congregational development," McCall said. "I am very excited to share my expertise and experience in these areas with CDSP students and with the congregations and organizations they serve."

McCall will join CDSP quarter-time in mid-November to spend time arranging field education opportunities for the 2017-2018 academic year and working with low-residence students who will be preparing for field education when they are on campus in January 2017. She will take up her duties half-time on July 1, 2017.

Richardson also announced that Dr. Rod Dugliss, dean of the School for Deacons, will finish his work with CDSP's field education students at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year. "We are grateful for his four years of work at CDSP, during which more than 60 students benefitted from his counsel and care during their field education" Richardson said. "We will find time next year to celebrate Rod’s work at CDSP and to thank him for the gifts he has shared with so many of us, students and faculty alike."

Two young women whose careers as innovative leaders in the Episcopal Church are already well underway will receive CDSP's 2016 Excellence in Ministry scholarships.

Mia Benjamin, 24, an Episcopal Service Corps (ESC) fellow in the Diocese of Massachusetts and Kathleen Moore 35, communications minister in the Diocese of Vermont, were selected for the scholarships which include full tuition and a $1,000 stipend.

Benjamin, a native of Fairfield, Connecticut and an alumna of Middlebury College, has conducted research on Christian-Muslim relations in Jordan on a Fulbright grant and developed several ministries at Grace Church in Medford, Massachusetts during her two-year tenure in the Life Together program, which is part of Episcopal Service Corps (ESC).

Moore, a native of New York City and an alumna of Kenyon College, was a television scheduler and social media manager before joining the Diocese of Vermont, where she settled because of her commitment to rural ministry. She also works with Canticle Communications, whose clients include CDSP.

“CDSP continually seeks out applicants who possess the character, leadership, and creativity that are required to lead the church in new directions,” said the Rev. Andrew Hybl, director of recruitment and admissions. “Both Mia and Kathleen embody these characteristics and more. We are excited to welcome them to CDSP this fall and witnessing their further development as leaders.”

Maria headshotBenjamin was 10 years old and living 60 miles from New York City when planes struck the twin towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and the attack had an immediate effect on her. “I wanted to work on reconciling Islam and Christianity,” she said. Deeply influenced by the example of a local pastor, the Rev. Alida Ward of Greenfield Hill Congregational Church in Fairfield, she went to Middlebury assuming she’d enroll in a seminary soon afterwards.

A collegiate crisis of faith caused her to rethink that plan, but she never lost her interest in Islam or in interfaith work. With a Fulbright Research Grant, she spent a year “doing research on Muslim clerics who worked in the Jordanian government and their opinion and reactions to the women’s rights movement,” Benjamin said.

She also worked for the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center, an interfaith organization headed by the Rev. Nabil Haddad, a Greek Melkite Catholic priest intent on improving relationships between Christians and Muslims in his country.

“We were working on a project between Jordanian Muslim military chaplains and American Christian military chaplains, trying to work on an interfaith cross-cultural exchange,” Benjamin said. “A lot of American soldiers who come to the Middle East don’t know much of anything about Islam. So how can chaplains play an important role in how to have peaceful relationships with people of different faiths?”

All the while, she was hearing a call to ministry that she “didn’t quite know what to do with.” On her return to the United States, she applied to Life Together, which, like other ESC programs, blends life in a small, intentional community, with service work with local non-profits.

“I found God again almost right away through the Eucharist and experiencing the sacraments,” Benjamin said.

In her first year in the program she began a ministry at a local nursing home, and helped convene local interfaith clergy in the wake of the fatal mass shooting at an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and began a young adult evangelism program that became the focus of her second year. “I have been really focused on how we bring in young adults who either have no experience of church or who have been really hurt by church in the past,” she says.

“Mia has a quick intellect and a contagious passion in following Jesus,” said the Rev. Noah H. Evans, the rector at Grace. “She has many gifts to bring to ordained ministry, especially in a changing and more pluralistic world.

Benjamin and Moore both said CDSP’s distinctive identity as an Episcopal seminary in the ecumenical and interfaith context of the Graduate Theological Union was a key factor in their decisions to attend the seminary.

“As a relatively new Episcopalian, I am really looking forward to being part of a community that prays together,” Benjamin said. “CDSP provides an ecumenical and interfaith environment while still having community for each faith where each person could be shaped in their own identity. The communities are in dialog and I just thought that was so incredible.”

KmooreMoore has experienced firsthand the kinds of seismic cultural changes that are shaking the church in another industry: television. In her teens she became fascinated by the work of television schedulers, especially Preston Beckman, the architect of NBC’s famous “Must See TV” lineups. But no sooner had she landed a job working with Beckman at Fox, then the advent of the DVR and streaming video made it possible for everyone to be their own scheduler.

Technology closed some doors in the entertainment industry, but it opened others. A few years later, Moore was working for TheWB.com, a website that streamed programs from the defunct WB network. Only a limited number of episodes could be made available at the time, so Moore and her colleagues used nascent social media to solicit viewers’ stories about why they wanted to see a particular episode of a given show.

“It was kind of wonderful, because I could respond to what people were actually asking for,” she said. “I could say, ‘I love that story about you and that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that you love, and it will be available for you to see on Monday.’ It was an incredible experience to actually be able to talk to people about things that they loved. And even back then I was thinking, ‘Oh boy should the church be excited about this.’

“That was the moment, because of the industry I was in, when I could see that one-way communication just wasn’t going to be a thing anymore. Everything was going to have to be multi-directional.”

A cradle Episcopalian, Moore was attending All Saints Church in Beverly Hills when the call to explore ordained ministry, which she’d been aware of since college, became stronger. Working in social media meant she was no longer tied to Los Angeles, and, with an interest in rural ministry rooted in childhood summers spent in Arlington, Vermont, she moved back east to a job with The Orvis Company, that she eventually left behind as she moved more deeply into the church.

“Kathleen has a real understanding that there is a need for a traditional way of being the church because there are people in our congregations who need that, but there are others who are not drawn to that or feel themselves left out, and for those people, there are new ways that have to happen,” said the Rev. Scott Neal, who was Moore’s rector at St. James, Arlington when she began her discernment process.

“The people I talk to really don’t have any impression of what it is to be Christian or a follower of Jesus,” Moore said. “It isn’t necessarily negative, which is kind of new, but it isn’t necessarily positive. It is the coolest place to start because it is scary: ‘Let me literally introduce you, for the first time in your life, to Jesus Christ.’

“I wanted a seminary that would understand that context, and was preparing people for ministry in the world as it is now and as it is going to be. I got that message more loudly and clearly from CDSP than any other seminary I talked to.”