The General Theological Seminary (GTS) and Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), The Episcopal Church’s longest operating seminary and its strongest theological seminary, formally entered into an affiliation agreement going into full effect this summer.
Leveraging the cultural and historic strengths of both schools, GTS and VTS now begin together — providing future seminarians a rich Anglican theological education, spiritual direction, and robust professional training through an innovative, shared governance structure and a range of joint programs and services.
As the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop, affirmed, “This new relationship between these two great seminaries of the Church represents a truly creative possibility for faithfully, effectively, and strategically forming leaders for the movement of Jesus Christ through the Church, and for the sake of our 21st Century world.”
Under this historic agreement, both institutions will retain their strategic initiatives, accreditations, endowments, and campuses, now joined together through an innovative overlapping governance structure, common executive leadership team, and a range of shared services and programs. Through the affiliation agreement, VTS will invite one-third of the membership of the GTS board to join its board, with full voice and vote. This newly expanded VTS board will then be invited by the GTS board to serve as the controlling member of the GTS board of trustees. The result will be an expanded board which shares oversight of the two institutions.
Senior leadership will also be held in common across the two institutions. The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. will serve as dean and president of VTS and president of GTS, and the Very Rev. Michael W. DeLashmutt, Ph.D. will become GTS’ Dean of Chapel and Senior Vice-President.
“The future needs to be one where there is more cooperation rather than competition – where the priority is the Gospel and where we work on strengthening The Episcopal Church for the future,” said Markham. “This affiliation allows for more innovation and more opportunities. The ethos of The General Theological Seminary, with its deep commitment to catholicity and liturgy, will continue to be a central part of the future.”
“Our lofty goal is to create a kaleidoscopic vision of a seminary that proves to be a comprehensive, global, and inclusive institutional resource for the Church.” DeLashmutt explained. “The legacy of both schools means we can accomplish more in tandem than individually.”
Serious discussions about collaboration have been continuing for some time within each governing body, with both Strategic Plans emphasizing a cooperative central structure.
“In finalizing this agreement,” Bishop Robert C. Wright of GTS said, “The Board of GTS took a bold and brave decision. Their priority remains the advancing Gospel and the Church by strengthening its leaders. We step together into a new future.”
Dr. David Charlton of Virginia Theological Seminary agrees. “Our Board has been in conversation over many years. We are excited that these conversations are now bearing fruit. The Episcopal witness in New York is now guaranteed into the future.”
While the structure of these institutions has changed, both remain focused on their charters within The Episcopal Church: to see the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and His saints equipped to advance the Kingdom in a changing world.