(Pittsburgh Seminary Press Release) Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh have entered into a new partnership intended to change the way clergy and lay leaders are prepared for ministry in the Episcopal Church.
The two organizations are introducing the Anglican/Episcopal Studies Track, a concentration that breaks down the traditional segregating of future priests, deacons, and lay ministers in favor of training them within the same context and course of studies.
The design allows for all those engaged in ministry to enjoy the same substantive academic and spiritual preparation, fully aware of and appreciating each other’s respective role and contribution to mission of the Church.
This training will be enhanced by the ecumenical setting offered at Pittsburgh Seminary. The program will begin with the Fall 2019 semester.
“The partnership that generated the new Anglican/Episcopal track displays the seminary’s commitment to engage meaningfully with denominational partners,” said the Rev. Dr. David Esterline, seminary president. “The presence of Anglican/Episcopal students has always enriched the learning environment at PTS. By pairing focused attention to Anglican/Episcopal worship, spiritual formation, and tradition with the seminary’s professional degree programs, this new track formalizes a course of study for those seeking to serve within the Anglican/Episcopal tradition.”
The program is open to students pursuing a Master of Divinity or Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies, who desire a deeper knowledge in specific fields such as church history, doctrine, liturgy, and practical theology. Students seeking ordination will be trained in anti-racism and church discipline procedures, take part in spiritual formation, and be placed in a year-long fieldstudy program, typically with an Episcopal church. Episcopal students will participate in the diocese’s Love+Teach+Heal Leadership Academy, which brings clergy and lay leaders together for deeper theological conversations.
“The Anglican/Episcopal Track offers a unique program of the highest quality,” said the Rt. Rev. Dorsey W. M. McConnell, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and PTS Board member. “The seminary is known internationally for academic excellence. In this setting, ministers can be shaped in the ethos of Anglican tradition and practice while enjoying all the advantages of a rich ecumenical environment. This is holy work, and I am very excited for the Diocese of Pittsburgh to be at the forefront of an initiative that, I hope, will grow to benefit many parts of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.”
Even prior to its formal unveiling, the new track has gained the approval of the Episcopal Dioceses of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) and Central Pennsylvania (Harrisburg) as a course of study for their members. Participation by other dioceses is anticipated.
This track is the latest partnership in Pittsburgh Seminary’s retooled master’s curriculum, which provides theologically reflective and contextually engaged ministry in the way of Jesus. The new, semester-based curriculum, plus January and summer terms, offers students greater access and flexibility to explore electives, deepen their writing skills, and learn more about their own faith tradition and those of others. Denominational breadth, in student body and faculty, is one of the key elements in formation for ministry as it provides the opportunity for students and faculty to learn from and with those whose theology, polity, and worship style might be quite different from their own—and so develop trust and appreciation across the traditional boundaries. Providing the opportunity to walk with faithful followers of Jesus from different ecclesial families is a central commitment of Pittsburgh Seminary. In addition to the new Episcopal/Anglican Track, the seminary also has formal relationships with The United Methodist Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.