Dear CDSP Community,
Every year at Pentecost, I am surprised anew at the trust God places in the followers of Jesus then and now. Through our experiences serving in the West and designing robust, flexible formation programs, we believe God has entrusted CDSP with a distinctive role to play in the mission this season celebrates.
As ever, we cannot do it without you.
The adage about this feast being the “birthday” of the Church is helpful in that it emphasizes for us the finitude and inexperience of a movement in its earliest days. Paradoxically, though, it is the stories of the “infant” Church that are perhaps most inspiring to the modern-day Jesus Movement.
We who have inherited partial stewardship of God’s mission in our day marvel at this community’s tight-knit sharing of burdens and resources, their courageous witness in the face of persecution, their creativity and empathy in sharing the Word with the world.
The stories that follow in Acts are full of a spirit of adventurous partnership—not just of God sharing a mission with the Church as a whole, but of individuals and communities partnering with each other.
I think of Paul’s missionary partners: Silas and Timothy, but no less Lydia and Priscilla. I think of the learning partnerships made possible not just by the Holy Spirit but by the Ethiopian eunuch whose bold curiosity so inspired Phillip, or by Cornelius’s devotion and generosity in welcoming Peter. I think of the churches in far-flung cities sharing money and spiritual support with each other according to need and ability.
Our partnership with the wider CDSP community is particularly on my mind in these times of intense social disruption. Because of your support, we at Church Divinity School of the Pacific have been able to embrace partnership opportunities the Spirit has put before us in this season:
- We partnered with students, faculty, and our colleagues in the Graduate Theological Union to adapt our teaching and learning practices to the limitations of pandemic.
- We partnered with UC-Berkeley to temporarily license Easton Hall for the university’s use as an isolation facility.
- We have continued forming leaders where they are needed now in our low-residence programs and our online CALL courses for partner dioceses.
In particular, it has been a privilege and joy to see the fruit of our partnership with Trinity Church Wall Street continue to bear fruit for both our communities’ missions.
In partnership with them and with you, CDSP has been able to call two new professors to our faculty, with a third search underway. We have hired a full-time communications manager. Our staff have contributed to successful convenings organized as part of Trinity’s leadership initiatives.
Most importantly of all, together we have implemented a major new affordability program that will provide full-tuition scholarships to students preparing for ordination with a Bishop’s approval.
Now more than ever, the Church needs creative, faithful leaders to help our communities find sustainable paths to flourishing in their neighborhoods and regions. I am writing to you today to invite you even more deeply into this partnership forming leaders for mission, evangelism, and discipleship.
With your support for this Pentecost Appeal, our funding for students and faculty can go from strength to strength.
Please make a gift today to our named scholarship funds, endowed faculty chairs, or the Annual Fund if your present circumstances allow. Your partnership will be a blessing to our community, and your impact will be felt throughout The Episcopal Church and around this nation and world.
The Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, Ph.D.
President and Dean, Church Divinity School of the Pacific