New Master of Divinity concentration in Episcopal Studies

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The School of Divinity has developed a curriculum for Episcopal students that is receiving recognition from Episcopal Bishops in the Southeast. With the establishment of a 12-hour concentration in Episcopal Studies, the program meets the standard requirements for Episcopal students in an ordination track and should eliminate the requirement for further study after graduation.

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Until now, School of Divinity graduates seeking to be ordained within the Episcopal Church have been required to take an additional year of study at another institution.

The Episcopal Studies concentration is directed by The Rt. Rev. Dr. Porter Taylor, retired Bishop of of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina and Visiting Professor of Episcopal Studies.

“We live in changing times. The School of Divinity’s Episcopal Studies concentration will aid in training leaders who respond creatively, faithfully, and responsibly as they carry out their ministries as priests.” The Rt. Rev. Dr. Porter Taylor
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Porter Taylor leads School of Divinity Community Worship on October 19, 2017 in Davis Chapel

Three priorities, known through the Jesus Movement, are at the heart of the Episcopal Church – evangelism, reconciliation, and creation care. Grounded in a call from the Gospel of Matthew, the Episcopal Church invites communities of people to initiate loving, liberating, and life-giving relationships to strengthen relationships between God, people, and the Earth. The Episcopal Studies concentration contributes to the School of Divinity’s commitment to combining academic rigor and a commitment to social justice.

“The School of Divinity has for many years enjoyed having students, teachers, and mentors from within the Episcopal tradition,” says School of Divinity Interim Dean Jill Crainshaw. “This new concentration in Episcopal Studies is a program we have long anticipated. I am excited for the many ways the concentration will enhance our school’s mission of preparing students to be agents of justice, compassion, and reconciliation in diverse contexts – and, now, in Episcopalian contexts.”

Concentration Admission

Any student enrolled in the School’s Master of Divinity program can seek a concentration in Episcopal Studies. Prospective students interested in pursuing this concentration are invited to apply for admission.

Given that ordination requirements vary between Dioceses, Taylor recommends that ordinands consult with their Bishop. He will work to personalize a course of study that is grounded in these concentration requirements:

  • Sacramental Theology and Liturgics, an examination of the theology embedded in various Episcopal liturgies and recent liturgies authorized by the General Convention, such as the Marriage Rite for Same Sex Couples;
  • The Book of Common Prayer, an introduction to its history, evolution, and possible future developments with praxis on conducting various rites;
  • History and Polity of the Episcopal Church, an exploration of key periods and significant figures of the Episcopal Church in the United States, including the role of women leaders before women’s ordination, the contribution of African American leaders, and significant moments in the 21st century with the ordination of the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion;
  • Anglican Theology and Its Historical Roots,  an examination of the core tenets of Anglican theology as they have developed, including social theology and development; and an
  • Internship completed in an Episcopal setting.
“A double win-win, the concentration deepens the anchor of the Episcopal Church in a very ecumenical and ethnically diverse theological school. Episcopal students will be provided a great opportunity to study in one of the outstanding University-related divinity schools in our nation that combines the unique interface of quality academics with social justice leadership, an urgent need for 21st-century ordained leadership” The Rev. Dr. Doug Bailey, retired faculty of the School of Divinity and Episcopal priest (retired)

Master of Divinity student Lauren Graber came to the School of Divinity to situate her Episcopalianism in dialogue with other Christian traditions. “As a person who is not a cradle Episcopalian, studying alongside my peers from many traditions at the School of Divinity clarifies and strengthens my choice to join the Anglican Communion,” she said. “I am able to stand in appreciation, awe, and love for the variety of ways people of God speak and live in faith with God.”

Paul Collins, a Master of Divinity student from South Africa, believes the School’s commitment to social justice strengthens his understanding of Episcopalianism. “This learning environment has enabled me to understand what it means to be a part of the Anglican and Episcopal branch of The Jesus Movement through being in community with other people of goodwill who also are committed to the work of justice, reconciliation and compassion in the world.”

photos by Carly Geis Photography
photos by Carly Geis Photography

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