Friday, August 29, 2008

TEC's New York staff have to move in with the relatives, and General Seminary is cutting staff

Well, Episcopal Life Monthly's September edition just thumped in the mail box.

On p. 3, we find out that "One of five proposed regional offices of the Episcopal Church Center in New York is now open in Omaha, Neb. The office, located on the campus of Trinity Cathedral and provided rent free by the Diocese of Nebraska, will be home to staff members... The first staff members to arrive in Omaha were Bishop Christopher Epting, program officer for ecumenical and inter-religious relations, and Dr. Tom Ferguson, the office's associate program officer...

...The two arrived in early July and met with diocesan staff, ecumenical partners at the headquarters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Nebraska Synod, and the Omaha Tri-Faith Initiative, a partnership of Temple Israel, The American Institute of Islamic Studies, and the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska. The three entities are exploring a plan to locate houses of worship on an interfaith campus... Wow! Free rent and plenty of non-Christians to whom you can capitulate! How you gonna keep the rest of the staff in Manhattan? (BTW Epting is the guy who went to Dar es Salaam and told the Anglican leaders that TEC believes in Jesus and all that kinda thing... no problems at all!)

Meanwhile, back in NYC, General Theological Seminary (my seminary, sniff sob sniff) is facing budget woes for which "Our endowment of $20 million is too small to fund everything we need to do...", says Dean Ward Ewing. General's response includes a plan to downsize its staff and part-time faculty by at least seven positions... the school will eliminate its full-time sub-dean position, a job now held by the Rev. Titus Presler.

Can't the seminary move in with relatives in cheaper states, too? General's largest financial asset is its land and buildings in Manhattan, Ewing noted, "but it was also our greatest liability in that we faced a rapidly deteriorating plant with over $100 million in deferred maintenance."

OK, I left out the part where it rationalizes, "Hey, all seminaries are tanking these days! This is just a normal - uh -you know." But all will be well - "An extensive market research study" has "demonstrated that there is very sizable demand in the metropolitan New York area for programs on religion, faith and spirituality, especially for part-time students." An initial implementation of its findings has increased the size of the fall's incoming class.

Got it. There are enough upscale dabblers in "spirituality" to bring in more income to keep the seminary doors open awhile longer - not to train clergy to build up Christ's church - but to, well, keep the seminary doors open awhile longer.

But, hey, once that Tri-Faith thing in Omaha gets going, maybe the General Staff can find rent-free digs and sell the real estate to - let's see - fund lawsuits against Christians or support abortion? Or pay staff to keep the Tri-Faith thingy going for part-time...

Oh, never mind.

1 comment:

Alice C. Linsley said...

So sad you have to laugh to keep from crying.