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Episcopal Church in Minnesota, Bexley Seabury Forge Partnership

ECMN, seminary plans include collaboration on formation and management training

November 19, 2014—The Episcopal Church in Minnesota (ECMN) and the Bexley Seabury Theological Seminary Federation today announced a partnership that will bring the resources and expertise of the seminary to bear on Christian formation and leadership development ministries in numerous ECMN communities.

Through the partnership, Bexley Seabury will collaborate with ECMN’s formation and leadership development initiatives among the Ojibwe and Dakota communities, and provide several scholarships to ECMN participants in the well-respected Bexley Seabury Leadership Institute, a three-day summer program offered in conjunction with the Center for Nonprofit Management, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

The seminary will also collaborate with ECMN on an "incubator initiative" that will gather young adults and other stakeholders to visit emergent congregations in the Episcopal Church and bring back the best wisdom from those faith communities, to Minnesota.

“ECMN is committed to assisting every faith community to acquire the resources they need to engage God's mission in their context," said the Rt. Rev. Brian N. Prior, Bishop of Minnesota. “This emerging partnership with Bexley Seabury has the potential of offering significant faith formation opportunities.”

The Rev. Roger Ferlo, president of Bexley Seabury, said ECMN and the seminary federation are well matched. “Episcopalians in Minnesota have understood since the days of Bishop Henry Whipple in the mid-19th century that it is essential to root theological education in the context and culture of local communities of faith,” he said. “Bexley Seabury shares this historic willingness to work collaboratively, to try new approaches, and to find ways to ensure that the best in Christian formation and training are available to people and communities that are sometimes overlooked.

“My hope is that this joint commitment to excellence in contextual formation will become a model for the church at a time when such models are keenly needed.”

ECMN and Bexley Seabury share some history relevant to their new partnership. Seabury Divinity School, one of the forerunners of Bexley Seabury, was founded by Whipple in Faribault, Minnesota in 1858. Enmegahbowh, the first Native American ordained to the Episcopal priesthood, was closely associated with Seabury from the start. The new partnership between ECMN and Bexley Seabury will be made possible by income from an endowment, known as Bishop Seabury Mission Fund, begun in 1933 when Seabury Divinity School and Western Theological Seminary merged.

The Rev. Susan Daughtry, ECMN Missioner for Formation, said she hopes that “the development of a strong relationship between ECMN and Bexley Seabury will allow the experiments and learning that blossom from the partnership to be a gift to the wider church.”

She added, “As the Episcopal Church leans back toward local formation and innovative networks, this partnership can be an icon of good news -- that seminaries can work in partnership with the specific needs of local communities, and that the wisdom of those local communities can shape and inspire our seminaries."

The Episcopal Church in Minnesota is a network of faith communities called to spiritual transformation by engaging in God's Mission.

As an Episcopal center for learning and discipleship at the crossroads of the nation, the Bexley Hall Seabury Western Seminary Federation forms lay and clergy leaders to proclaim God’s mission in the world, creating new networks of Christian formation, entrepreneurial leadership and bold inquiry in the service of the Gospel. Learn more at bexleyseabury.edu.

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2015 Bexley Seabury Leadership Institute

The fifth annual Bexley Seabury Leadership Institute at the Kellogg School is a three-day program tailored to meet the distinctive needs of lay and clergy leaders across the church. Join us June 15-17, 2015 for lectures, interactive exercises and dialogue with faculty at the Center for Nonprofit Management, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

At the Leadership Institute, you'll:

  • build your skills for effective church leadership
  • gain a deeper understanding of complex cultural change
  • learn strategies to make your congregation more vital

When:  Monday, June 15-Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Where:  Wieboldt Hall, 340 East Superior St., Northwestern University’s Chicago Campus

Cost:  $1450 (This reduced cost made possible by support from Bexley Seabury endowments.)

How to apply:  Complete an online application 

From June 15-17, limited accommodations are available at the Nicholas Center, located in the Diocese of Chicago’s St. James Commons, a few blocks away from Wieboldt Hall. Learn more at nicholascenter.org and reserve a space with Peggy Pearson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Questions?  Please call 800-275-8235 or email the Rev. Canon Suzann Holding at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Course Topics  

Leading Change

Creativity and Innovation

Leading with Vision, Values and Purpose

Leadership and Organizational Communications

Team Building

Conflict Resolution and Negotiation

What Leaders Say

The Bexley Seabury Kellogg Leadership Institute was a profoundly stimulating offering. The faculty were engaging leaders who brought years of experience to bear, and it was clear that they were also passionate about sharing their knowledge with church leaders because they have personal commitments to serve Christ and his Church. The chance to meet new colleagues enriched the experience further. I’m hoping to be able to attend again, since the program changes each year.

--The Rev. David Hedges, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Sycamore, Ill.

As religious institutions face rapid change and leaders strain to find perceptive and creative mentoring, Bexley Seabury’s Leadership Institute at the Kellogg School offers “water for parched throats,” to borrow from the psalmist. What new word is there about the give-and-take of effective collegial leadership? Where better to hear it than from experienced business professors and leaders who care about best practices for religious institutions and agencies? This seminar will make you want to drink more deeply.

--The Rev. Dr. Carol A. Tate, Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Academic Credit

Qualified participants for MDiv or DMin academic credit can extend the Leadership Institute with additional sessions on June 18 and 19. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Professor Wondra Elected to World Council of Churches Commission

Bexley Seabury research professor of theology and ethics
to serve until 2022

CHICAGO, September 25, 2014—The Rev. Dr. Ellen K. Wondra, research professor of theology and ethics at the Bexley Seabury Theological Seminary Federation, has been elected to the World Council of Churches Commission on Faith and Order for a term that will last until 2022.

The Standing Commission on Faith and Order, described by the World Council of Churches as “a community of ecumenical leaders and theologians who for more than a century have laboured for the visible unity of Christ’s Church through concentrated theological dialogue,” comprises nearly 50 theologians and consultants and meets for one week every two years. Wondra’s first meeting will be in June 2015.

“Ellen’s passion for ecumenical dialogue has enlivened her career and the seminary she serves,” said the Rev. Dr. Roger. A. Ferlo, president of Bexley Seabury. “Her service on the Standing Commission on Faith and Order will be a boon to Bexley Seabury, the Episcopal Church, and our ecumenical partners across the globe.”

Wondra served on the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations of the Episcopal Church from 2001-2006 and on the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the U.S.A.  (ARCUSA) from 1992 - 2010. She was the co-coordinator of that group’s project on authority from 1996-2008.

The Rt. Rev. C. Christopher Epting, a 1972 alumnus of Seabury and current Federation board member, served with Wondra on ARCUSA. He is the retired bishop of Iowa and is currently assisting bishop in Chicago.

“Dr. Wondra is one of the leading ecumenists in The Episcopal Church,” said Epting. “I cannot imagine what I would have done, during my years as the Presiding Bishop's Deputy for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Relations, without her wise counsel and rich experience. I am thrilled that she will now represent us on the WCC's venerable Commission on Faith and Order.”

Wondra, who holds an MDiv from Church Divinity School of the Pacific and a PhD in Christian theology from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, became professor at Bexley Hall Episcopal Seminary in 1989 and professor of theology and ethics at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in 2004. From 2008-2014, she served as Seabury’s academic dean, and from 2006 through December 2013, she served as editor of the Anglican Theological Review.

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Columbus Convocation on September 24

Bexley Seabury alumni, supporters, and friends are invited to gather in Columbus on Wednesday, September 24 for Columbus Convocation 2014. The event will include:

10 am:  Eucharist with the Bexley Seabury and Trinity Lutheran communities in Gloria Dei Chapel at Trinity Lutheran Seminary

3 pm:  Open discussion on the future of ordained ministry in a changing church with President Roger Ferlo in Schenk Chapel at Trinity Lutheran Seminary

5 pm: Reception at The Alumni House at Capital University

No RSVP is necessary. Questions can be directed to Shirla Langknecht at 614-231-2095 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Bexley Seabury's annual Columbus Convocation is held in conjunction with Trinity Days at Trinity Lutheran Seminary. This year, on Thursday, September 25, Dr. Amos Yong, professor of theology and mission at Fuller Theological Seminary, will speak on "Pentecostalism, Theology, and Missiology in the 21st Century." Learn more on the Trinity Lutheran Seminary website.

A Bexley Seabury Chicago Convocation will be held in 2015 on a date to be determined.

 

New Academic Leadership: May 2014 Board of Directors Meeting

The Bexley Seabury Federation’s board of directors met on May 15 and 16 in Chicago.

At the meeting, the board approved a new academic leadership. Beginning July 1, the Rev. Dr. Tom Ferguson, will be the Federation’s vice president for academic affairs and dean of Bexley Hall. Ferguson has been dean of Bexley since 2011. The Rev. Dr. Ellen Wondra, who has been academic dean at Seabury since 2009, will become research professor of theology and ethics.

In his new position, Ferguson will be responsible for academic affairs and faculty at the Federation’s programs in both Columbus and Chicago. Wondra will return to research and teaching, most immediately with a weekend intensive course in global Anglicanism during the spring semester in 2015. 

“I am grateful to Ellen and Tom for their joint service during the federation’s formation, and I am delighted that Ellen can now complete several writing projects and return to full-time teaching.” said Federation President Roger Ferlo. “I look forward to working closely with Tom in his new position as we continue to expand our seminary ‘beyond walls.’”

The board thanked ten outgoing members:  Mrs. Eleanor Chabraja, the Rev. Canon Carlson Gerdau, Mr. James H. Hawk, Ms. Katharine R. Koeze, the Rev. Wendy Lane, the Rev. Eugene Y. Lowe, Jr., Mr. Roger Lumpp, the Rt. Rev. Kenneth Price, the Rev. Jeffrey Queen and the Rev. Dr. Gwynne Wright, welcomed six new members, and elected its officers for 2014-2015. The Rt. Rev. Mike Klusmeyer will continue as president, while the Rev. John Denson (Seabury DMin 2009) will be vice chair, replacing the Rev. Alan Gates who was elected bishop of Massachusetts on April 5. The Rev. Charlotte Reed (Seabury ‘97) will serve as secretary and Michael Galvin will be treasurer.

The directors voted to establish the position of trustee emeriti in order to gain the counsel of longtime leaders of both Seabury-Western and Bexley Hall. Vice President for Advancement and Church Relations Conrad Selnick will oversee the recruitment of the new group, which will be named in the fall of 2014.

The board’s next meeting will be a strategic planning retreat in October in Indianapolis.

Oh Joins Bexley Seabury as Director of Field Education and Formation

Oh KJMAY 12, 2014, Columbus—Bexley Seabury Federation President Roger Ferlo announced today that the Rev. KyungJa (KJ) Oh, a Seabury MDiv alumna ('00) and current DMin student, will become the Bexley Seabury Seminary Federation's director of field education and formation. Oh is currently rector of The Episcopal Church of the Advent in Walnut Hills, Ohio in the Diocese of Southern Ohio.

“KJ bring brings a depth of wisdom and hands-on practical experience that will immeasurably strengthen our MDiv program,” said Ferlo.

Oh will join the staff on July 1 and be based at Bexley Hall in Columbus, located on the campus of Trinity Lutheran Seminary.

“I'm delighted to have KJ joining us at Bexley Seabury” said the Rev. Thomas Ferguson, dean of Bexley. “She brings a wealth of personal and professional experience in a number of different settings, from chaplaincy to parish ministry,” said Ferguson. “She will help us bring together crucial components of theological education and formation for the future church.”

As director of field education and formation, Oh will oversee a comprehensive field education program, direct the seminary’s spiritual formation program, provide worship resources for students, and serve as an academic advisor and pastoral leader.

"I am delighted to be joining the Bexley Seabury faculty to participate in forming future leaders of the Church,” Oh said. “I look forward to helping our students transition from the methodology and theology of the classroom to practical application in the mission field.

“The church of today and tomorrow requires creativity and curiosity; perhaps that really has been the case all along. Our ministry requires flexible creativity and incessant curiosity in order to appreciate where we are, who we are and how the Holy Spirit provides meaning to daily life.”

Oh has been a priest in the Diocese of Chicago and chaplain for the Oncology Department at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Illinois. She has studied theology at Cambridge University in England and French literature at the Sorbonne, and holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Illinois Wesleyan University. She lives with her partner, Melissa McNeill, and has two children and two grandchildren.

Learning from London: Mission and Evangelism in the 21st Century

Learning from London: Mission and Evangelism in the 21st Century

We have all heard the news and analysis: the Episcopal Church in the US has shrunk by 24% over the last decade, and prospects for much of the church look dim. Many reasons for this decline are offered: growing secularity, the rise of the “nones”, changing attitudes towards religion and religious observance, the encounter with other religions. But inevitable decline is not the only story to be told for Anglicanism in the developed world.

Since 1990, the Diocese of London in the Church of England has grown by 50%. Over the same decade that the Episcopal Church lost 24%, London grew by 17%. Since 2000, London's giving has increased by 50%. This has come about through a combination of dynamic local parish programs, strategic planning for planting and renewing churches, and an inspiring vision set forth by the diocese. All of this has taken place in the midst of one of the most diverse, vibrant, cosmopolitan, multi-faith and secularized urban centers in the world.

How has this come about? And what may be learned from London’s methods for our own context? Join Dr. Jason Fout for an in-depth introduction to the many facets of the mission and evangelism taking place in the Diocese of London in January of 2015. We will spend our time learning best practices from seasoned practitioners. Plan to come away energized to tell a different story about the possibilities present to the church in America!

This course will be suitable for MDiv or DMin students, as well as anyone charged with leadership in the church.

Dates

Learning from London 2015 is sold out! To put your name on the waiting list or get information about the 2016 course, please talk with Professor Fout.

17-23 January 2015
travel dates: 16 January (or earlier), 24 January (or later)

Saturday, January 17: class begins in London
Accommodation at the Royal Foundation of St. Katharine (subject to change), London.
Afternoon meeting at the Royal Foundation of St. Katharine for introduction and overview of the week

Sunday, January 18: Morning - worship; afternoon meetings with diocesan representatives

Monday, January 19: Church planting and renewal in London: four recent examples

Tuesday, January 20: Messy Church and other Fresh Expressions of Church

Wednesday, January 21: Holy Trinity Brompton and the Alpha Course

Thursday, January 22: Catholic mission and growth in London

Friday, January 23: London’s commitment to social transformation and response to crises; final wrap-up conversations and festive farewell dinner.

For those taking the course for credit, class will begin online on December 15. Final assignments will be due February 13. Auditors may participate in all online work and final assignments as needed for their learning goals.

Registration and Cost

To register or receive further information, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Course price: With registration by October 1, price is $1850. For registrations between October 2 and November 11, price is $2050. Price includes including ground transportation, lodging, breakfast and dinner; exclusive of airfare. $1000 deposit due with registration; remainder due by December 1, 2014. Rates are based on shared rooms; single-room occupancy can be accommodated for a supplement of $240 for the week.

Students taking the course for MDiv or DMin credit:  Additional $1620 tuition for three hours of credit.

Register early! Space is strictly limited.

All participants:

  • All participants will be responsible for their own air transportation:  final flight details are to be emailed to Dr. Fout no later than December 1, 2014.

Read more: Learning from London: Mission and Evangelism in the 21st Century

Suzann Holding Joins Bexley Seabury April 1

Holding with kidsA couple of years ago, in the middle of a meeting, the Rev. Canon Suzann Holding had a vision that put her on a journey from the idyllic weather of San Diego back to a city that has been known this winter as Chi-beria, where she will become the Bexley Seabury Seminary Federation’s director of lifelong learning and the doctor of ministry program on April 1.

“I saw an old stone ruin with crumbling bricks,” says Holding, “and I knew my heart wasn’t in repairing that wall. I wanted to go beyond the old, broken walls that too often keep the church in and hold us back.”

It’s not surprising that Holding, who received her MDiv from Seabury in 1999, was intrigued when she learned about the opportunity to return to her alma mater, which now describes itself as a “seminary beyond walls.”

“I commend Bexley Seabury for being courageous and thinking creatively about its mission,” she says. “Leaders in the church can’t keep doing business as usual. We have to break down the traditional paradigms and delivery systems for theological education in ways that make the Gospel message meaningful to people’s lives. The opportunity to do that at a new venture guided by Roger Ferlo is very exciting.”

Ferlo, Bexley Seabury’s president, is enthusiastic about Holding’s arrival. “Suzi is an expert in training leaders and an experienced parish priest,” he said. Ferlo led the search that chose Holding from a strong pool of applicants. “Our DMin and lifelong learning programs will benefit greatly from her deep practical experience in ministry, her experience in the business world, and her understanding of today’s church. And, as a native of Cincinnati and a long-time resident of Chicagoland, she has a heart for the Midwest regions where Bexley Seabury makes its homes. We’re very fortunate to have found her.”

Holding, who lives in Glen Ellyn, Ill., recently finished a four-year stint as canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of San Diego, where she led congregational and leadership development programs in addition to handling the position’s typical administrative responsibilities. Before that, she was rector of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Elmhurst and associate rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Wheaton, both in the Diocese of Chicago. Prior to seminary, she spent nearly two decades working in corporate sales, marketing and operations.

She is also practicing what she’s about to preach. This fall, Holding will complete her own DMin program at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, writing a thesis about creativity as a leadership tool.

“In our world today, there are a lot of messages about what it means to be Christian, and some of them are really not helpful,” she says. “We need the whole horizon of possibilities to support people in their spiritual journey and feed their spiritual curiosity. To be effective in reaching people who are hungry, we need to be creative.”

Holding hopes to use some of her own creative leadership to attract fellow Seabury alums to be a part of the new Bexley Seabury despite the pain of letting go of the Evanston campus.

“We all grieve the loss of places we have had to say goodbye to, like our childhood homes or church buildings where we baptized our children or married and buried our soulmates,” says Holding. “The memories that we form stay with us even when the physical places go away, and the substance of them will always be part of us. People of faith are a journeying people. If we claim that identity, then we recognize that Seabury was a place on the journey, but not a stagnant one. The faithful response is to acknowledge it as a painful loss and move on.”

For Holding, moving on has recently meant returning from four years in San Diego to the Glen Ellyn house that she shared with her husband, who died seven years ago, and their two children. Now she lives with with Lucy, a 45-pound shepherd and spaniel mix, and welcomes frequent visits from her daughter, Mallory, a former employee of the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations now finishing a master’s degree in international development policy at Georgetown University, and her son, Michael, an aspiring actor in Chicago.

“My journey has brought me home again, but it’s a different place,” she says, both of her life in Glen Ellyn and her new role at Bexley Seabury. “Things have changed and so have I. God is leading us all beyond the old walls.”

Bexley Seabury, ChurchNext Present Video Series Exploring Book of Common Prayer

January 21, 2014--Bexley Seabury and ChurchNext are teaming up to present an eight-part series on the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer that will be easily available to anyone with a computer, tablet or smartphone and an Internet connection.

Led by President Roger Ferlo of Bexley Seabury, the series will be available by the end of June at churchnext.tv.

“I am delighted to be involved in our first partnership with a seminary and our first offering of academic level content,” said the Rev. Chris Yaw, founder of ChurchNext, which promotes Christian formation through online classes with leading thinkers and practitioners. 

“This series is perfect for Christian education classes, but people can also participate on their own time and at their own pace because all of the presentations will be available for viewing online at any time,” he said. Each of the eight courses will take an average learner about 45 minutes to complete.

Ferlo said the series will help participants develop “an easy familiarity with the Prayer Book” and equip them to cultivate “a personal ‘rule of life’ centered in Prayer Book practices such as praying the Daily Office and observing the church calendar.” 

“People who take this course will emerge with a firm understanding of how important the sacrament of baptism is to the Episcopal tradition. We hope they will develop a deeper commitment to the ministry of all believers in advancing God’s mission of justice, mercy, and reconciliation in the world,” he said.

The course will be taught by Ferlo, the Rev. Dr. Thomas Ferguson, dean of Bexley Hall; and Bexley Seabury faculty including the Rev. Dr. John Dallythe Rev. Dr. Jason Fout, Professor Milner Seifert and the Rev. Dr. Ellen Wondra

The course will be available to congregations that subscribe to ChurchNext for free and to individuals for $10 per course, or for an unlimited, $15/month individual membership. “This is an extremely convenient, cost effective, and professional way to provide first-rate Christian formation materials to people around the world,” Yaw said.

 “This is an exciting venture for Bexley Seabury,” Ferlo said. “ChurchNext is an excellent partner for us as we continue to develop new ways to bring high level theological education to ever-broader audiences.”

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Bexley Seabury Sponsors Free Online Class with New York Times Bestselling Author Albert Cutie

Bexley Seabury Sponsors Free Online Class with New York Times Bestselling Author Albert Cutie

“Living a Spirit-Filled Life" Open Online Class and Discussion; June 8-15

DETROIT, May 26, 2014 – This Pentecost, join thousands of students around the world to learn how to live a Spirit-filled life. Students can begin registering today to take the course for free anytime between June 8 - 15. Click here to register and learn more.

Father Albert Cutie, New York Times bestselling author, talk show host, and Episcopal priest in Southeast Florida, will teach “The Big Class,” a program of ChurchNext Online Christian Learning. The course will expand on Fr. Cutie’s books and sermons that focus on how we bring God into our everyday lives. This course follows the tremendous success of Bishop Michael Curry's January class, “How to Be a Crazy Christian” for which 3,000 students from 30 countries registered.

Fr. Cutie will also moderate the course and answer online questions during the week of The Big Class. Participants can take the class anytime during the week of June 8-15 at churchnext.tv. The course takes about 45 minutes to complete and need not be taken in one sitting. No special software is required. Click here for organizational materials for congregations who wish to take the class together.  Click here for a preview clip of the course on YouTube.

Throughout Living a Spirit-Filled Life, students are encouraged to think about and to experience the Holy Spirit and its meaning for their lives. “We are living in one of the most anxious times in history,” writes Fr. Cutie. “Dramatic changes are everywhere – technology, communications, relationships – and the pace of this change has many of us reeling in anxiety.  This means many of us find it difficult to find God, even though we know God is there. A Spirit-filled life is the life in which we can let go and let God.” The Big Class will help Christians deepen their commitment to follow the Spirit and proclaim the love of God in their lives and communities.

The Big Class is a worldwide initiative in open online learning for all who want to go further in their walk with Christ and is free to everyone, everywhere, thanks to the support of Bexley Seabury, The Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, Logos Bible Software, and Forward Movement.

ChurchNext creates online Christian learning experiences to invigorate lives and congregations. Along with our partners we are devoted to helping people grow in their Christian faith, improve their lives, and better the world. Learn more at http://www.churchnext.tv.

Media Contact

Rebecca Wilson
Canticle Communications
rebecca@canticlecommunications.com
330-524-2067

 

Bexley Seabury In the News

In Trust: Coming to the Table

The New Year 2013 magazine of In Trust, an organization committed to strengthening boards and governance in North American theological schools, profiles the Seabury and Bexley federation. The story is titled "Coming to the Table: Building on a shared missionary heritage, two Episcopal seminaries carefully chart a way forward."

Read the article.


Dean Ferguson on Fasting in Christianity and Judaism

Tom Ferguson was recently featured on All Sides with Ann Fisher, a local NPR show in Columbus. Listen to a 13-minute segment to hear him talk about fasting in Christianity and Judaism.

Read more...