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GOE Changes Draw More Fire

By Zachary Guiliano

Critics of Resolution A090 (on seminarians’ areas of study and examination) were back in force early Wednesday when the Committee on Formation and Education for Ministry held an open hearing.

The early hearing began slowly; no speakers were present to speak to the first six resolutions under consideration. Once A090 came up, nine speakers gave testimony, with heavy representation from Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) but no speakers from other seminaries.

Only two speakers supported the proposed resolution: The Rev. Laurie Lewis, deputy from the Diocese of Missouri, noted that the resolution “gives us more freedom in the process,” while the current canon might encourage educators to “teach to the test.”

The Rev. Michael Bamberger, deputy from the Diocese of Los Angeles, was involved in forming Resolution A090. He indicated openness to amending the proposal, which was made by the General Board of Examining Chaplains.

Those against the resolution unanimously cited their concerns about a lost specificity.

Paul Castelli, Diocese of Michigan deputy, candidate for Holy Orders, and a rising senior at Bexley Seabury, gave by far the most impassioned testimony.

“No doubt there are needs to revise our education requirements,” he said. “However, I am cautious about the total removal of Section 5 [on studies in contemporary society]. I see the explanations, but I think it’s hard to say these are outdated issues when nine black Christians were killed in their church by a white supremacist.”

Castelli’s remark prompted nods and murmured agreement throughout the room. After a question from the committee, Castelli suggested adding further language to the canon to require training on sexism and LGBTQ issues.

Jim Richardson, alternate deputy from the Diocese of Virginia and vice chairman of CDSP’s board, offered two comments.

“Removing the items in Area 5, and removing evangelism and stewardship, sends a really bad signal at this time,” he said. “The [restructuring] report recommends greater cooperation between seminaries. We also need cooperation between the [examining chaplains] and the seminaries,” but there has been no consultation on this proposal.

The resolution was referred to subcommittee for further discussion, with several people listening in. The subcommittee wanted to honor the intentions of the examining chaplains in proposing the change, yet also address the concerns of those at the hearing.

The subcommittee plans to check with the examining chaplains about a friendly amendment to merge two areas: studies in contemporary society and practice of ministry in contemporary society.

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