The Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, PhD, president and dean of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP), announced Monday a major overhaul of the Episcopal seminary’s financial aid offerings.
“Even in the midst of hardship, our experience of the Risen Christ calls us to share signs of hope and new life,” Dean Richardson wrote in a message to the community.
“In this spirit, we announce the beginning of a new opportunity for CDSP students training to be leaders in ministry.”
The changes are aimed at helping students who are preparing for ordination with a bishop’s approval to avoid incurring additional educational debt during their studies. Beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, CDSP will provide full-tuition scholarships to all qualifying new and returning students, and residential students will receive a meal plan and free housing (dorm or apartment according to family need and availability).
“This additional investment in CDSP’s core mission is another way Trinity can support leadership formation for the future of the Church,” said the Rev. Phillip A. Jackson ‘94, priest-in-charge and vicar of Trinity Church Wall Street (TCWS). TCWS and CDSP entered a strategic alliance in 2019.
The change comes in a moment when many churches and dioceses are working hard to adapt their mission and ministry to unprecedented emergency circumstances. Religious and educational institutions are anticipating significant financial struggles in the days ahead.
“We know our students are preparing to lead faith communities in challenging times,” said the Rev. Andrew Hybl ’12, dean of students. “This additional aid will lessen the hardship and uncertainty that comes with choosing to pursue theological education anytime, but especially now.”
The full-tuition scholarship will also be available to new (June 2020) and returning students preparing for ordination in the seminary’s low-residence program.
“CDSP made a significant investment in online pedagogy and instruction beginning in 2011, and we now have one of the premiere, accredited low-residence programs in theological education,” said the Rev. Ruth Meyers, PhD, dean of academic affairs.
“We’re making it possible for exceptional students to prepare for ministry leadership without leaving their communities, and we expect the new financial assistance to make this innovative approach even more accessible and effective.”
This change in student financial aid is part of a larger initiative to increase the impact of CDSP’s work of forming leaders steeped in mission, discipleship, and evangelism to serve God’s ever-changing church.
“Even as we develop new strategic initiatives, we know we still need to improve funding for our named scholarships and for multiple faculty chairs,” said the Rev. John Dwyer, vice president & chief operating officer. “A gift to CDSP during this season of hope will help us go from strength to strength and improve the educational experience at CDSP for everyone engaged in ministry in our community.”
Returning and prospective students who have questions about these changes should contact the Rev. Spencer Hatcher ’16, director of recruitment and assistant dean of students, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-204-0738.
Those who wish to contribute to CDSP’s mission can do so at cdsp.edu/donate, designating gifts for named scholarships, general scholarships, faculty chairs, or the annual fund.
“Our prayer is that this spirit of expectation will enliven our community even in the midst of our current disruption and hardship,” said Dean Richardson. “Now more than ever, we are being reminded of the importance of well-prepared leadership in our church, deeply committed to serving God’s mission in and for the world.”