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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.”

 

Sermon for CDSP Baccalaureate Service

20 May 2016 Acts 17: 24 -31

John 1:1-5, 9-14

I once heard John’s Gospel described as ‘a paean to the unlimited beauty, eternal creativity, and breathtaking presence of Christ in this world’.

I believe that indeed it is and therefore what a truly magnificent sending out scripture this surely is for those of you about to fully and finally take your leave of this wonderful institution, this place of your shaping and forming, this place which will variously have angered and frustrated you, challenged and enriched you, encouraged and enlightened you, taught and enabled you, fed you and blessed you . . .

I cannot begin to express just how incredibly humbled I am to be with you all in this moment of transition from student to servant, in this moment of richly deserved celebration, in this sacramental moment of thanksgiving for all in God’s creation that has been and is yet to be in all of our lives. Thank you for inviting me to share in this very precious occasion. It is very, very special to be back home again.

Two weeks ago I was in Fiji at a high level gathering of church leaders, political leaders and academics drawn from across the Pacific region. We were charged with developing an inter-faith communiqué for presentation at the upcoming G20 Summit meeting to be held in China later this year. The idea being that faith communities have a unique and important perspective and dare I suggest, an irrefutable responsibility to contribute into that globally influential essentially secular gathering of the leaders of the worlds leading nations. Or perhaps I should say, to that globally influential essentially secular gathering of the worlds leading economic players.

High on the Fiji agenda was the challenge of getting the G20 to take seriously the crucial Pacific wide issues of climate change, economic development, social justice and education – four of the distinctive aspirational goals, which now comprise the United Nations SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals) or what is now the expanded version of the tragically under-realised MDG’s (Millennium Development Goals).

These newly minted SDG’s, as I am sure you all well know, are ultimately the noble goals seen as essential to achieving world peace with justice and the prospect of flourishing for all humanity. These are the goals, which were assented to late last year by 193 of the countries represented in the UN General Assembly. Present also at that Assembly were many of the world’s most prominent and well known faith leaders and certainly I commend to you the speech made by Pope Francis at that time. Following on from Pope Francis extraordinary public witness it has been heartening to see how many people of all faiths across the world are seeing movement toward the fulfillment of the SDG’s as a missional matter, as a matter of God’s justice.

‘Thus says the Lord, do what is right, for soon my salvation shall come, and my deliverance shall be revealed . . .’

The problem however in the case of the Fiji gathering is of course the monumental disconnect between the outwardly honorable nature of the SDG’s and the outwardly and inwardly dubious, utterly self serving nature of the G20!

One is to do with the care of God’s creation by responding tenderly and with abundant generosity of spirit to human need; the other is to do with abetting the disfigurement, the crass exploitation of God’s creation. One is incarnational and thus redemptive, the other is disembodied and thus life denying.

To my graduating class, your ministries are now set to be within the global village whether here in Berkeley, California or in Auckland, Aotearoa, New Zealand. Here in each one of the public squares into which you are now authorized to step, fully equipped, fully aware, fully certificated for the myriad challenges likely to be set before you, you will find the same juxtaposition of critical factors which inevitably impede the rightful progress from blessed creation to blessed redemption.

Key among these impediments is what George Bernard Shaw described as the greatest of evils and the worst of crimes imaginable and that is poverty . . . and by poverty I am adopting Amartya Sen’s definition of poverty as being the inability to lead a decent and dignified life or indeed what Robert McNamara so poignantly described as a condition of deprivation that falls below any rational definition of human decency. A decent and dignified life, a life of human decency, a life, which knows fulfilment of deep spiritual hunger, surely these things are the birth right if not the human right of all human beings?

And yet today’s tragic reality is that none of us need look far before we bear witness to the antithesis to dignity and decency – daily we are confronted with countless human lives battered, happiness stifled, creativity destroyed, freedoms eradicated, human dignity crushed, spirituality derided.

This then as most of you have already experienced, is your new occupational vineyard, the public square, the sphere within which you and I each, daily, have our call to serve the Christ we seek to emulate, the Christ we promise to follow.

How then are we to most effectively leverage ministries of light and life when so much is pressing in from the dark side, poverty, unjust wars, nuclear threats, rising oceans, human trafficking, corruption, racism, the stark raving lunacy of Donald Trump and so on and on it goes.

Well it is at this point that I want to return again to what I earlier mentioned as ‘the breathtaking presence of Christ in the world’ . . . for here in John’s Gospel is the solemn promise that what is going on when Jesus shows up on earth is somehow mysteriously part of what is and was always true about God. Thus before we meet Jesus in Galilee or in Bethlehem, we meet him ‘in the beginning . . . with God’. John is showing us that Jesus Christ is the embodied plan of God that existed from before his birth.

We also learn the basic plot of the gospel: creation no longer knows its Creator and is in darkness. But the Light has arrived in the world. The Light will make the Father known to the world, as the divine Word of God. All of this is matching and expanding what was revealed in the Old Testament, though now God has been ever more gracious.

John is reassuring us that nothing at all therefore can make a difference to the eternal truth about God. God’s welcome, God’s joy, God’s light – all of this is eternal, not fixed in time or space but eternally occurring, eternally seeking, eternally knowing and therefore there is theoretically no way that the darkness can ever, could ever, completely overwhelm or overthrow God’s people.

The challenge therefore before each one of us really is quite simple. We are to be courageous; we need not fear the dark. We are to endeavor in all we say and all we do to exemplify what we really mean when we confess to believing in Him in whom we live and move and have our being.

We are called inexorably to prophetic action and in this respect I want to say that I have every confidence in the graduating class that you will continue to be unafraid in your public witness, that you will continue to be unbowed in your pursuit of justice for the downcast and the marginalized, that you will continue to act always with compassion and kindness, that you will temper your outrage with critical analysis and strategic action, and crucially that you will continue to practice the art of patience with others and with yourself – after all you now have a whole lifetime of selfless, sacrificial ministry ahead of you . . . yes there is urgency but so too is there time, God’s time for you and for me to be continually blessed by knowing, by ever more deeply knowing, that because we believe, we too have become the children of God, entrusted, empowered, enlightened.

Let us then move on from this day with greater certainty, greater clarity and greater confidence in attending to the multiple tasks that lie ahead. Be always as I so lovingly remember you all to be - so incredibly grace filled and so wickedly good humoured.

In closing, may I just share a very short but I think a superb poem by Mary Oliver. Some of you may already know it. It is called The Song of the Builders,

On a summer morning

I sat down

On a hillside

To think about God

A worthy pastime

Near me, I saw

A single cricket;

It was moving the grains of the hillside

This way and that.

How great was its energy

How humble it’s effort.

Let us hope

It will always be like this

Each of us going on

In our inexplicable ways

Building God’s universe.

Amen.

© Dr Jenny Te Paa Daniel

Proudest Alumni of CDSP! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revised curriculum emphasizes mission, discipleship, evangelism

(If you’ve been directed to this page by CDSP’s 2017 Easter Appeal and would like to support our work, you can donate here.)

Two years ago, when the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers began to think about CDSP’s new Master of Divinity curriculum, William Temple was on her mind.

Temple, archbishop of Canterbury from 1942–1944, reportedly said, “The church is the only institution that exists primarily for the bene t of those who are not its members.”

“Today we recognize even more clearly that we must articulate and embody the good news of God in Christ not only within the church but especially in our pluralistic world,” says Meyers, CDSP’s academic dean and Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics. “Our revised curriculum is organized to form students who learn to do that by studying the core Christian concepts of mission, discipleship and evangelism, and practicing the core leadership skills of contextual awareness, critical reflection and public conversation.”

CDSP’s faculty began designing the new curriculum in 2014 with the initial assistance of the Lilly Endowment’s Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. From the outset, says the Very Rev. Mark Richardson, CDSP’s dean and president, the goal was to build on CDSP’s historic strengths.

“As founding members of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), CDSP has always provided rigorous academic and spiritual formation to leaders who understand the distinctive gifts that the Episcopal Church offers to a diverse world,” Richardson says. “The West has always been rich with religious and cultural pluralism, and so in some ways, we have had a head start in preparing people for Anglican ministry in a post-Christian culture. Our new curriculum builds on that historic strength by focusing on the ancient features of mission, disciple- ship and evangelism interpreted for Chris- tian life today.”

The GTU is a consortium of eight theological schools and eleven centers and affiliates that includes Lutheran, American Baptist, Roman Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish institutions. CDSP’s membership in the GTU allows students to cross-register for a much wider variety of electives than are typically available to seminary students. The opportunity to seek theological breadth, however, is matched by a requirement to study deeply in the Anglican tradition. CDSP’s residential and low-residence Master of Divinity students take most or all of the courses covering the six canonically required areas of study for ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church at CDSP. Those areas are Holy Scriptures, history of the Christian church, Christian theology, Christian ethics and moral theology, Christian worship, and the practice of ministry.

They’re learning in a thoroughly Anglican environment,” Meyers says. “However, it’s not unusual to have GTU students from different faith traditions in those classes. So from the very beginning of their academic preparation for ministry, they’re learning to articulate Anglican perspectives and explain Anglican traditions to people who come from other contexts, just as they’ll need to do in the congregations and ministries they serve after graduation.”

The Rev. Dr. Susanna Singer, associate professor of ministry development, helped develop the new curriculum and is enthused by its focus.“For me as a teacher, centering on mission, discipleship and evangelism is really exciting, because I can see how I can make my course design more effective. It helps me sort the wood from the trees. There are lots of things I can teach, but this helps me narrow it down and helps me assess my courses’ effectiveness.”

The new MDiv curriculum will be instituted during the June intensive session that includes low-residence students. The curriculum includes a new cornerstone class for students in the low-residence program. Residential MDiv students will take the same class during their first semester on campus.

This summer, Singer and Jennifer Snow, assistant professor of practical theology, will teach the cornerstone class, in which Singer says students will “learn how to think like an Episcopal ministry leader.” The reading and writing intensive class is designed to introduce students to spiritual practices and traditions from across the Anglican Communion and help them to articulate where their own ministry fits into the Anglican landscape. Along the way, students will undergo something of a boot camp experience in academic writing, systems theory, critical theory and core com- munity organizing concepts. “We’re putting it all in the context of developing yourself as a leader,” Singer says. “There’s tons of writing, spiritual practice, hymnody and prayer.”

Singer has also piloted CDSP’s com- munity organizing course, which has been taught as an elective in partnership with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) since 2013 and is now required for all MDiv students. Faculty will rotate teaching the course in collaboration with Joaquin Sanchez, lead organizer at the Bay Area Industrial Areas Foundation. Snow taught the course last winter. 

“Part of the community organizing course is to go see an action,” Snow says. “An action is a very well-planned event by a group of people who are already com- mitted. When I taught the class last January, the action was full of people who were eager to be there. It was full of people who had relationships and wanted to go deeper. I compared that to so many of our congregations, where people don’t sit together and don’t have a clear sense of why they are there.

“Community organizing training isn’t just for outreach or community work. It
is to build those kinds of relationships— that kind of relational power—that can be part of the entire institutional structure,” Snow says. “It’s about building power with instead of power over.”

The new curriculum’s focus on mission and contextual awareness is particularly well-suited to Snow, who studies 19th and early 20th century missionaries in Asia
and Africa. In spring 2017, she will teach
a class on missionaries and the Anglican Communion.


“I want people to understand how our contemporary global Christian context has been shaped by missions and the work of missionaries,” she says. “When we don’t understand it, we can be blind to the ways that our history has shaped the debates we’re having now in the Anglican Communion.”

In particular, Snow hopes to help students understand the complicated role of colonial missionaries, who are sometimes regarded more as agents of empire than servants of Christ. They shaped Anglican churches in many parts of the Global South where today Episcopalians strive to nurture partnerships across vast theological and cultural differences and inequities.

“There’s a tendency to blame missionaries for our dominant society’s complicity in colonialism and imperialism. I want students to begin to grasp that while missionaries have often been implicated in structures of oppression, they frequently struggled against them as well. Students are having similar experiences today as they discern how to teach, talk and share about Christianity in a society that is very aware of the colonial and imperialist past,” she says.

Richardson thinks that the new curriculum, with its focus on ministry in a world of pluralism, will help CDSP continue recruiting energetic students who will build the church of the 21st century.

“Christians today have to invent practices of ministry that meet the world on its own terms with a distinct voice,” says Richardson. “But invention can only succeed over time if it is borne out of deep and faithful grounding in the tradition. Our new curriculum will help students become the inventors of the church of tomorrow.”