Advent Appeal

Mark Richardson
The Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, PhD
President & Dean

Dear CDSP Community,

Never in my memory have we arrived at Advent already so steeped in the tenor of anticipation.

For months we have watched and waited. We have waited on the results of coronavirus tests and national elections, all the while fighting tedium, anxiety, and worse. We have longed to see and embrace our loved ones.

We have wept at the further tearing of our social fabric. We have roared at justice delayed and denied to people on the margins and to an environment on the brink.

Still, Advent is a season in which longing and hope live in productive tension. As 2020 draws to a close, I find myself buoyed by the witness of a community finding ways to flourish. 

Our students, faculty, staff, alums, and friends remind me daily that the just and loving reign of Christ is coming. God’s promise to renew the face of the earth enlivens us in our struggles and makes possible our growing discipleship. 

Church Divinity School of the Pacific is taking significant steps into an uncertain future—and we rely on the wisdom and support of friends like you. Here are just a few of the ways your generosity is fostering hope at the seminary as we approach the end of a difficult year: 

We are examining ourselves and preparing our students to lead communities engaged in the work of dismantling racist structures in the Church and the world. 

Our faculty have been exploring new practices of welcome and inclusion for a more diverse student body, supported by a Becoming Beloved Community grant from The Episcopal Church and by expert colleagues from peer institutions. Our students are participating in new formation experiences centering racial justice analysis and action, supported in part by Dr. Catherine Meeks of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing. 

We are developing competencies for sharing Good News in a world overtaken by crisis. 

We will hold our annual community organizing course this January with the Industrial Areas Foundation, leveraging online tools and spaces not just for the skill-building and theological reflection components but for the customary public action as well.

Fall 2020 Crossings Cover

We are also partnering with UC-Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy to offer a new course called Poverty and Communities of Faith in the Politics of 2021. The course will be taught by our visiting fellow, the Rev. David Beckmann, president emeritus of Bread for the World and a 2010 recipient of the World Food Prize. 

We are discerning new strategic priorities to better steward our many strengths and better serve the Church being born. 

Our new faculty in leadership and in contextual education are increasing the seminary’s focus on practical skills and impactful collaborations. I have recently joined the Rev. Phillip A. Jackson ’94, priest-in-charge and vicar of Trinity Church Wall Street, for listening and brainstorming sessions with bishops from around the Episcopal Church.

While I cannot yet share the most exciting of the ideas we are developing in light of these conversations, I can commend to you the interviews with many of these same bishops excerpted in the new leadership-themed issue of our Crossings magazine. To hear the complete interviews, tune into our new Crossings Conversations podcast

We are partnering with our supporters to recruit and fund students in ways we never dreamed possible. 

Building on the foundation of our new full-tuition scholarships, housing, and food stipends for many students in the ordination process, we now ask you to help us invest even more in our community—and the future of the Church—by giving to our funds for more robust stipends and specialized scholarships, including scholarships for lay leaders, and for endowed faculty chairs.  

» Your gift in support of one of our specialized scholarships will help us recruit the most promising students by offering funds to further reduce the diverse costs associated with pursuing theological education.  

» Your gift in support of an endowed faculty chair in the discipline of your choice will help us recruit and retain inspiring faculty, improving our educational offerings and further bolstering recruitment. 

Your faithful support makes it possible for CDSP to continue to grow our community and impact. Our partnership with Trinity has created wonderful new opportunities for our students, but we continue to rely substantially on the generosity and vision of the seminary’s friends and alums. 

Even amid the challenges of 2020, we at CDSP are waiting expectantly. With Christian communities around the world, we face the present suffering and turmoil in light of the Good News of God in Christ. With your support and by the power of the Spirit, we are filled with hope and a desire to share it in new and impactful ways. Please join us in this mission by supporting our Advent Appeal. 

With hope and expectation for our collective future, 

The Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, Ph.D. 
President and Dean, Church Divinity School of the Pacific

CDSP is registered nonprofit, eligible for tax-deductible donations as allowed by law (tax ID number 94-1156508).