Easter Appeal

Greetings from Church Divinity School of the Pacific! As you know, CDSP has entered a season of transition. The leadership team agreed it would be best for me to write to you in my capacity as newly elected rector of Trinity Church Wall Street, chair of CDSP’s board of trustees, and a proud 1994 graduate of our beloved seminary.

And so it is with tremendous gratitude that I ask you to join me in making a gift to CDSP in honor of the Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, PhD, who recently announced his retirement as president and dean at the end of this academic year. 

Mark has been my friend and colleague since long before he made the fateful phone call that led to our two institutions’ eventual strategic partnership. Because of his dedication to the seminary’s mission and his astute leadership for nearly twelve years, we have much to celebrate about this innovative and resilient West Coast hub of theological education. Indeed, there is far more than I could hope to name in a letter like this, so I will limit myself to a couple of important sources of gratitude.

At his installation in October 2010, Mark said the following:

I am convinced that, more than ever, the seminary cannot prepare students to lead churches well unless it prepares them to see the implications of their faith in all dimensions of social life.

What does it mean to believe God is the source of all creation but to continue to exploit and squander the natural world? How will our faith guide our response to new forms of cultural fragmentation based on class, race, and ethnicity? How will we seek the full inclusion of same-sex relationships not just as a matter of rights, but theologically as a sign of God’s full creative richness and beauty?

So that theology does not become a museum piece, we need to interface well with other domains of inquiry and practice.

From our vantage point today, it’s clear that Mark’s questions were prescient. And these priorities—responding faithfully to social change, and engaging in critical dialogue between theology and other disciplines—have borne fruit in CDSP’s mission and programming. They have equipped our alums to serve in turbulent times.

Because of your generous support of CDSP during Mark’s tenure as president and dean, we have been able to

  • transform the MDiv curriculum to be far more directed toward preparing leaders for God’s mission in the world;
  • launch and refine cutting-edge initiatives in faith-based approaches to community organizing and political advocacy;
  • lead the way in low-residence leadership formation to support more just and flexible access to theological education;
  • engage in both intellectual and material ways to address the worst effects of climate change, including by adding solar panels and making campus more energy efficient; and
  • develop partnerships with leaders and communities large and small, including space-sharing and innovative educational programming with UC Berkeley.

Your enduring support means the impact of this vision will continue to shape not only our own students but the institutions around us. In turn, the work of CDSP students, faculty, staff, alums, and friends reverberates throughout the Bay Area, in dioceses historically underserved by the structures of theological education, and across our denomination and global communion.

I truly believe that the Episcopal Church needs the witness and wisdom of CDSP. 

Our community’s response to Jesus’s call to follow is distinctive and far reaching. And it is embodied and shared with the world not just by Mark, not just by the institution he has led, but by people like you. We cannot live out this mission without you.

Please make your gift to the Easter Appeal today in support of CDSP’s continuing work, and in thanksgiving for the vision and leadership of our sibling in Christ, Mark Richardson.

I ask you as well to join me in prayer for Mark in his retirement, and for CDSP in our next steps together. We trust that the Spirit has still greater things on the horizon for this community.

Sincerely yours,

The Rev. Phillip A. Jackson ‘94, XIX Rector

Trinity Church Wall Street

P.S. Learn more about how to designate your gift at