A season under heaven: reflections on Trinity Lutheran and Bexley Seabury Seminaries

Author’s note: This post was co-written by Benjamin Garren. You can find his blog at revsnark.blogspot.com.


 

We doubt that this news will make front page of the New York Times, but for us this is important. For many years Trinity Lutheran Seminary and Bexley-Seabury shared space, resources, professors, students, and much more. Today that relationship is coming to an end.

A lot different words have been used to describe the relationship between Trinity and Bexley-Seabury.“Partnership,” “The current agreement with Trinity,” and “collaboration.” On the news that Trinity and Bexely hall were to be no more all these words seemed inadequate

Partnership…

current agreement…

Even collaboration only barely approaches the actual degree to which Trinity and Bexely-
Seabury worked together.

Our seminary formation was amazing. That is not to say it was all champagne and caviar but that through the complex struggle for Christian community in the midst of academic studies it was a solid experience. A year out we could truly not have asked for more from the two communities that were essential to our formation, Bexley-Seabury and Trinity Lutheran Seminary. Our seminary formation, however, is over and even in the midst of it we recognized that both communities that were forming us were striving to meet the pressing needs of ministry formation in a rapidly changing milieu.

During that time we learned something beautiful as students and as denominations. That we can cohabit learning space and liturgical time together and not bring about mass hysteria or destruction. At points solely because glares cannot kill. We know now, for certain, that thriving symbiotic partnerships between the two denominations can come about on a large scale. Call to Common Mission is now more than a document of supposed dogma but an incarnated sacramental. That, like all seasons of worship, it is time change the paraments is simply the telling truth of the Christian ethos.

The goal was never to create Lutherpalians, a better hybrid name that Episcerans which sounds like some form of ritual fasting with fish. At every point we were called to understand who we were as Lutherans and Episcopalians better. At many points this was learning not to compromise but to disagree better, with a full understanding. This learning of each other’s language was an essential part of this. The true test was always could you speak an Episcopal Truth in Lutheran or vice versa. It was an amazing and worthwhile mechanism for discovering denominational identity and learning about other ones. These are the type of conversations that are only going to become more and more common, however, as we build relationships over multiple denominational lines.

What we will miss, with the ending of this relationship, is that growing process. Growth into an identity, whether it be Lutheran or Episcopalian, that could be confidently held without demeaning or harming the other identity. It is a rare thing in our world. A rare thing that someone can be confident in who they are without attacking or harming the other. As rare as it is, it could be found at Trinity Lutheran Seminary and Bexely-seabury

The amazing thing is that even as the relationship comes to formal end the relationships it created will not. We have seeded both the Lutheran and Episcopal clergy with hundreds of deep meaningful friendships between individuals who can speak both languages. This is why nothing is actually over about the relationship between Bexley-Seabury and Trinity Lutheran Seminary. The orchard that has been planted is going to continue to mature and not reach fruit bearing years for decades. In thirty years, when the entire face of Christianity and both denominations has changed in America, friendships started now will be the foundation of where we go next.

These next steps are the continued goal of both seminaries. A graduation has happened, an epic adventure occurred and it was marvelous and worth rereading. New adventures are, however, always on the horizon and new paths of formation must be set up to train us for what lies ahead. So we will give thanks for the manifestation of grace we have known and give thanks for the new manifestations of grace that are to come, for everything has a season and our lives must consistently enter into the turning until we are turned round right.

3 comments

    1. Yeah, lament and truthfully I’m angry about it. However that is the advantage of having a co-author. The better stuff can surface.,

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