Bexley Seabury Announces Move

for immediate release

NOVEMBER 11, 2015
bexley seabury announces move to chicago

On Monday, November 9, the Bexley Seabury Seminary Federation Board of Directors made public its decision to move Bexley Seabury’s Master of Divinity program from Columbus to Chicago, bringing an end to the unique, 17-year relationship the Episcopal seminary has shared with Trinity Lutheran Seminary.

Bexley Seabury’s President Roger Ferlo and Academic Dean Thomas Ferguson informed Trinity’s Board of Directors during its fall meeting over the weekend. The current agreement with Trinity runs through June 2016, and transition planning is under way in consultation with current M.Div. students, so they can complete their studies on schedule.

“In this day and age, almost all mainline seminaries are under a lot of stress due to enrollment and fiscal challenges, and they must be imaginative to continue to be agents of the gospel,” said Trinity’s President Rick Barger. “I pledge my total support to them for the courage it took to make the decision. I also celebrate the courage and vision of their board to see new life and new possibilities under a consolidated approach in Chicago. It does indeed hold promise for them and for the sake of theological formation.”

The BSSF Board of Directors moved to end Bexley Seabury’s relationship with Trinity upon the recommendation of its Beyond Walls Task Force, which was commissioned in May 2015 to help carry out the Bexley Seabury 2015-2017 Strategic Plan.

The relationship between Trinity and Bexley Seabury (formerly Bexley Hall Seminary) was forged in 1999, as the ELCA and The Episcopal Church were in the process of working out an agreement that would lead to full communion. The late Professor Walter R. Bouman, of Trinity, and the Very Rev. William H. Petersen, of Bexley Hall, were instrumental in the Lutheran-Episcopal dialogue process and shared a dream of the two seminaries sharing one campus. The partnership became a reality one year before the landmark agreement, “Called to Common Mission.”

“The Trinity–Bexley Seabury alliance demonstrated the deep wisdom of the ‘Called to Common Mission’ agreement. …Our partnership has shown how two faith traditions can each benefit when we live into the Gospel together,” said Ferlo.

“For everyone associated with the Columbus shared mission and its witness to the world, it is a big loss,” added Barger. “We have not only shared space, we have shared theological formation, academic calendars, worship life, campus life together, our academic catalog, admissions, registration, and a common library. Commencement has been an annual joint celebration. It is a sad time for all of us.”

Beginning with the fall 2016 term, Bexley Seabury Seminary will operate all programs—Anglican Studies, Master of Divinity, Doctor of Ministry, and Lifelong Learning—from one site, in Chicago.

“As we continue to move through this academic year, there will be plans to celebrate our 17-year relationship, recognize the end of this unique Called to Common Mission partnership, and offer mutual support and benediction to one another,” said Barger.

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