The School of Theology, the University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn., has entered into a partnership with Westcott House, Cambridge, U.K. These two historic seminaries, both established in the 1800s, have created a student exchange program for seminarians to experience prayer, study, and community life abroad in their middler year. The program takes place during the advent semester in Sewanee and the fall term in Cambridge.
The Rev. Dr. Benjamin King, assistant professor of Church history, and the Rev. Dr. James Turrell, associate dean for academic affairs, both of The School of Theology, felt that an integral part of a seminary education is the ability to experience Anglicanism in its many traditions. Looking to the Church’s English heritage, and with the benefit of an existing academic relationship, Westcott House was a great place to start.
Westcott House is dedicated to “pastorally and liturgically growing in compassion, creativity, and imagination to live the Gospel in every place to which God calls us.” The School of Theology shares in this formational process developing “leaders who are learned, skilled, informed by the Word of God, and committed to the mission of the church, in the Anglican tradition of forming disciples through a common life of prayer, learning, and service.” The two schools share a sense of mission to prepare clergy for service in the parish and beyond. That formed the basis for a conversation that quickly became a course of action.
The first exchange began in the summer of 2012 to allow time for the students to settle in before matriculation of the Advent/Michaelmas term. The School of Theology welcomed Lewis Connolly of Westcott House to Tennessee Avenue in Sewanee. In exchange, Alice Hodgkins, T’14, has ventured across the pond to Jesus Lane in Cambridge.
“Both seminarians are taking the same course of study that they would in their respective seminaries,” says King. “But what makes this program so attractive is the ability to see another part of the world and its church life.” King is an alumnus of Westcott House and experienced a similar program while seeking his theology degree. Both schools of theology emphasize the importance of contextual education fulfilling required time in the parishes of their surrounding community and beyond.
Connolly has begun the immersion process of living in “the South” in his final year before being ordained to the diaconate. “I heard about Sewanee’s new exchange program and I was very keen on applying,” explained Connolly. “Sewanee's academic reputation, the supreme theological library, and this being the headquarters of Education for Ministry (which is in part the subject area of my M.A. dissertation) made coming here a very good choice.”