Dear Parishioners and Friends,
On Monday of this week, I had the pleasure of returning to my alma mater, the
General Theological Seminary
, for the annual Paddock Lectures. The lectures always feature theological luminaries, but this year was special. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams delivered the lectures, while Presiding Bishop Michael Curry gave the sermon at the evensong convocation. With these two headliners, tickets sold out fast, and I was initially resigned to watching online. However, at the last minute, a generous parishioner offered me a spare ticket.
Archbishop Williams gave a morning and afternoon lecture on his observations of the evolution of English-speaking theology over the course of the last 45 years since his first visit to GTS as a guest lecturer. In his steady baritone voice, he took us on a journey that was at times densely academic, but also filled with his easy yet intelligent British wit. There were a number of insightful take-aways which I will save for a sermon or two.
At the end of the evening, there was a reception in the magnificent refectory, Hoffman Hall, where everyone got a chance to speak with both of the guests of honor. The dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine took several photos of me conversing with Archbishop Williams, but sadly they all look as though I am about to strike him. Too many gesticulations, I suppose.
While it was great to spend a day in the city and see many old friends, the lectures reminded me of the important place seminaries occupy in the life of the Church. Not only do they form lay and ordained leaders for the Church, but they continue to refresh us for a lifetime. GTS is a place that is theologically rigorous and liturgically sound that has nourished this Church with a steady stream of faithful priests and bishops for over 200 years. To be sure, it has weathered its share of storms, and is striving to adapt like all religious organizations. In spite of the challenges they face, our seminaries remain vital to the wellbeing of the Church. I hope that if you haven’t already, you will take the opportunity to visit GTS and experience its deep spirituality and theological richness.