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  The Dean's Commentary  
Friday, November 17, 2017
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Monday, November 13, 2017
Friday, November 10, 2017
Thursday, November 9, 2017
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Wed, 08 Nov 2017 05:00:00 UT

We strive to be a place of effective formation; however, some of our friends at Yale or Duke suspect we are less good at preparing people for doctoral work in the academy. After all, the argument goes, VTS has fewer distinguished visitors who are at the cutting edge of academic research.

Actually this has never been true. In 1931, Paul Tillich while still very much in the infancy of his major projects lectured at VTS; and we have an impressive run of attracting some of the most creative minds in our discipline to the Seminary. And this tradition continues with our very own version of the Giffords. Thanks to the generosity of Ms. Margaret Costan, we have an endowed lecture series that runs over late afternoons – tonight, Thursday, and Friday. The theme is “Early Christian Spirituality for Today”; they start at 4pm and finish at 5pm, with a reception to follow.

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Beeley, currently at Yale but heading to Duke Divinity School, has an international reputation; he is at the cutting edge of research in patristics. Anyone thinking of doctoral work should seize the opportunity to listen to these lectures.

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

Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Tue, 07 Nov 2017 05:00:00 UT

As Ms. Tamara Shepherd moves to the library, we have Ms. Rachel Holm standing ready to our be our interim Registrar. I am grateful for Ms. Karen Rollins who has generously agreed to provide a consultancy service around the role of a Registrar through this transition. I've known Karen since I was at Hartford Seminary , where she served as Registrar while I was the Dean. She has decades of experience in this area; and she is commuting down, staying on the campus, to provide us with help and advice. I am very grateful that Karen is willing to do this for us. 

One habit I hope everyone will learn while at Seminary is the simple habit of saying hello to everyone. The temptation in the Refectory is to sit with those we know, but the invitation of the Refectory is to search for the person who is a stranger, the guest, and the person sitting alone. We have many consultants, who come and stay for short seasons. Taking the opportunity to learn who they are is the privilege and joy of the Refectory.

It is a skill worth learning. "Working a room" is an essential skill for effective ministry. Learning the art of small talk, asking the opening question, making a connection - be it sport, art, travel, or culture - these are the indispensable skills of effective ministry.

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

Monday, November 6, 2017
Mon, 06 Nov 2017 05:00:00 UT

Quiet Day is one of my favorite days of the calendar. It is a day when we descend into prayer. It is a day when we take seriously the reality of God's existence and the joy of our relationship with God. It is one of the most important days of formation for any aspiring leader of a congregation.

The temptations are many. We want to get an assignment finished; we want to read this book for class; we might allow ourselves to get sucked into social media. I do invite you all to resist those temptations. The task is to deepen your relationship with God. So walk the Labyrinth, sit alone in the Chapel, read Ginny Wilder's All my Words Have Holes in Them, spend some time journaling; in short, invite yourself to have a sustained devotional time with God.

And do track how you cope when you take it seriously. Listen carefully to your feelings. And finally do remember there are people available for the Rite of Reconciliation and for conversation. This is the work of eternity that we do this day.

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