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  The Dean's Commentary  
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Dean Markham Writes About the Sin of Racism
Friday, January 12, 2018
Thursday, January 11, 2018
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Monday, January 8, 2018
Friday, January 5, 2018
Fri, 05 Jan 2018 05:00:00 UT

It might be bitterly cold. It might be the season of the GOEs. It might be hard to get to work. But actually, today is a very exciting time on the campus. At 6am this morning a team of specialist installers arrived on the campus. Working in the darkness in the Chapel, three remarkable stained glass windows are being installed.

It was Robert Stern who suggested the stained glass specialist for our Chapel. The BBC had made two documentaries on this designer. He was the man who took stained glass out of churches and put it everywhere - in office buildings, shopping malls, and conference centers. He solicits commissions from around the world. His exhibitions attract considerable media interest. We were delighted when he accepted our commission. Brian Clarke was to be the designer for our windows.

Thanks to three generous donors, the windows have been designed. They are spectacular. The dove - almost moving at high speed - hovers over the baptismal font on the west wing; the oak leaves - representing the Father, the genesis of all that is - sits dignified in the north transept; and the parable of the sower from Canterbury Cathedral as it is refracted by the light onto the ground of the Cathedral represents the power of the Incarnation mediated to us through Canterbury to the Episcopal Church in the United States. 

Hopefully later today you will be able to go into the Chapel and see the windows. Try and pick a sunny moment; and as you do so marvel at the great art and the gift it brings to worshippers for generations to come.

The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
Dean and President

Thursday, January 4, 2018
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 05:00:00 UT

This morning the campus is white; the wind makes it very cold. Other schools are closing; the federal government is on a two hour delay. So naturally, everyone wonders what the Seminary will do. So let me set out some principles which will shape our decision making.

In terms of educational program, the vast majority of the students and faculty live on the campus. Provided the campus is safe for walking, we are hoping that even in a major storm the cancellation of classes will be unnecessary. If the professor and students can get to the class, then the class should go ahead. Now for our staff who commute to the campus, we always invite staff to consider the conditions they face and to take safety into account. If you live out in rural Virginia, then the commute might be impossible; if you live at Cameron Station in Alexandria, then the commute is perfectly possible. So once again, we will tend to have the school open for basic services and invite any individual staff person to contact his or her supervisor if there is a particular problem.

These decisions are always controversial. Constantly closing is very disruptive; but being open can be challenging to some staff. I invite us all into a space of thoughtful consideration. The announcement from Jim Mathes today invited users of the Butterfly House to consider the reduced staffing levels and perhaps have family time instead of childcare. This is the right attitude. Let us do what we can as we live through these periodic storms.

The Very Rev. ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
Dean and President

Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 05:00:00 UT

General Ordination Examinations (GOE's) dominate the lives (and fears) of our senior M.Div. students this week. And well they should, to an extent. The GOE's are administered by the General Board of Examining Chaplains (GBEC) which aims to standardize the process of examination for ordination. Candidates are tested in the areas of the Holy Scriptures, History of the Christian Church, Christian Theology, Christian Ethics and Moral Theology, Christian Worship, and the Practice of Ministry.

It is understandable that the GOE's tend to be a source of anxiety, however our students are well-prepared. Faculty members teach in ways that help students to reach across disciplines, integrating both knowledge and resources. They are practicing ministry in diverse contexts throughout their time as students. And throughout the fall semester Seniors met on Friday afternoons for GOE review sessions on various topics. 

Please pray for our students this week. Seniors, be gentle with one another. Remember that the GOE's are a tool, but not the only tool, used to examine those seeking ordination. And you are well-prepared. 

The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
Dean and President