By the Rev. Kyle Oliver, EdD
“How do we train and prepare and form leaders for the Church in a world … where the Church is not the only game in town?”
That question was one of many the Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, explored with students, faculty, and staff during a visit to CDSP on February 7.
“The Church has a dual focus to create Christian community as church but let that be a witness and a springboard to help people nurture it in the society,” he said in an interview. “And when that happens in society, there is, as the old enslaved Africans used to say, ‘plenty good room, plenty good room, plenty good room for all God’s children.’”
The visit was made possible by Bishop Curry’s early arrival for a meeting of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church February 9–12 in San Francisco. He preached at a special CDSP Community Eucharist that capped off a day of conversations: with residential students, with hybrid students, and with faculty and senior staff.
“The God behind you is greater than any problem ahead of you,” he said in his sermon, quoting the late Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris (DD ’02) in commemoration of her ordination as the first woman to serve as bishop in the Anglican Communion.
Although not the focus for the visit, Bishop Curry’s time at CDSP followed shortly after the seminary’s January 31 announcement of a shift to a fully hybrid education model beginning in 2025. The new program includes oonline semesters, Berkeley intensives and NYC learning, and a two-year funded curacy program.
“When I began to understand what you all are talking about, I realized that this may be reflective of the trajectory of the entire Episcopal Church,” he said. “I don’t mean the exact same thing happening. I think we as The Episcopal Church will be reinvented—not just by cultural forces without or demographics within—I’m talking about something bigger than that. We are being reinvented by the Spirit of God.”
Bishop Curry named the curacy program as an especially significant aspect of the new approach.
“What I see here is some creative work that opens even more the possibilities of theological education actually making a difference in the life of the Church in the world.”