Where Faith and Scholarship Meet to Reimagine the Work of Justice

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From the Dean’s Desk:

Greetings Friends,

On Ash Wednesday I presided at EDS at Union’s service which marked a formal entry of our community into a new season of regular prayer, reflection, and repentance. In many respects, however, the beginning of Lent is simply a continuation – or a deepening – of the prayer, reflection, and taking stock that has marked the Spring 2019 semester.

As I hope you will see in this newsletter, EDS at Union students have been participating in a wide range of programming and activities in the first months of this new semester. On January 30th, we were honored to welcome Anna Clark, author of this semester’s Community Read The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy, to discuss the role of the Church in environmental justice issues. Through this lecture, as well as in a podcast episode and later a panel discussion that took place at the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes meeting in Boston, EDS at Union called the Church to reflect on how and when we show up, when we are tellingly absent, and how we as faith leaders can support and strengthen community groups as they seek to address environmental injustices.

As Dean, my hope in all of this is that we form Episcopal lay and clergy leaders who can go beyond the Episcopal Church and partner effectively with interfaith and ecumenical groups in their neighborhoods to serve the Gospel. This is one of the reasons why the affiliation of EDS at Union gives me such hope. Our students are deepening their Anglican faith in classrooms that look like the diversity of our world, with students from many different denominations and several walks of faith. I believe all of this will go a long way toward helping EDS at Union students be strong faith leaders in helping to build a just earth.

Blessings to you and yours in this season of Lent.


The Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, PhD

LGBTQ Response to United Methodist Church Decision

EDS at Union was proud to participate in the #QueerFaith photo essay highlighting the vibrant LGBTQ community that is flourishing at Union Theological Seminary. “After the United Methodist Church’s decision, the pain in our community was palpable; we knew we had to respond.” Click here to see the photos and profiles.

Absalom Jones Day Celebration

Alumnus and board of trustee member the Rev. Charles (Chuck) Wynder ’12 led the EDS at Union community in a festive Absalom Jones Day celebration on February 13. Joining Dean Douglas and pianist Gary Mitchell, the Rev. Wynder spoke on the importance of Absalom Jones as the first black priest of the Episcopal Church and the significance of the Absalom Jones scholarship fund in fostering new generations of black clergy leaders for the future of the Episcopal Church. Click here to watch a short video of the gathered group singing.

Gun Resolution

At the end of February, Dean Douglas met with the Bishops of Episcopalians Against Gun Violence at their organizing meeting in Washington, D.C. and presented EDS at Union’s resolution and statement of principles on gun violence. Dean Douglas concludes it by stating “we invite the wider Church, including other theological institutions and seminaries, to join us in this national effort.”



Anglican Studies Retreat with the
Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas

On February 25-26, the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas ’88 opened the Spring 2019 semester with a spiritual retreat for Anglican Studies students. Centered on the theme of “Spiritual Resilience and Leadership in a Time of Climate Crisis”, the retreat welcomed students back from winter break and laid the groundwork for a semester-long exploration of environmental justice issues.


Flint, Faith, and Justice: Anna Clark Visits EDS at Union

On January 30, EDS at Union welcomed Anna Clark, author of The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy. Selected as the Spring 2019 “Community Read”, Ms. Clark’s book was the focus of a lecture and special reception in which she and Anglican Studies students discussed her work. Click here to watch Ms. Clark’s public address. 


Dr. Sandra Montes,

Dr. Sandra Montes joined the EDS at Union community as artist-in-residence during the week of February 11-15. In addition to developing and leading chapel services all week, Dr. Montes gave a presentation in Dr. Altagracia Perez-Bullard’s Spanish for Ministry course on congregational development in a Latinx context. She concluded the week with a workshop on developing bilingual liturgy. Hear a sample of Dr. Montes’ singing here


Bishop William Franklin and General Ordination Exam workshop

The Rt. Rev. William Franklin led an evening workshop for Anglican Studies students on February 27 on preparing for the General Ordination Exams. Bishop Franklin will soon be retiring as Bishop of Western New York and will become Assisting Bishop in the Diocese of Long Island. He holds a Ph.D. in church history and will work with Long Island’s Mercer School of Theology, as well as teach a fall 2019 course in liturgical history for EDS at Union.



Courageous and Just: Kelly Brown Douglas and Austin Channing Brown

Trinity Church Wall Street has launched a new video series in collaboration with Dean Douglas called “Courageous and Just.” The first episode features an interview with Austin Channing Brown, author of I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, who shares insights from her book and her life about what it means to embrace blackness, reimagine self-identity outside of the framework of white supremacy, and how she is now preparing her one-year-old son to both “love and resist.” Click here to watch the conversation. 


Summer Trip Planned to EJI’s Legacy Museum and Memorial for Peace and Justice

On Ash Wednesday, Miguel Escobar joined the Rev. Matt Heyd and the Rev. Anne-Marie Witchger of the Church of the Heavenly Rest for an exploratory trip to the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and Memorial for Peace and Justice. As a continuation of EDS at Union’s Fall 2018 read of Bryan Stevenson’s book Just Mercy, a trip for current students is being planned for late June 2019 to the museum and memorial. Click here to read a short note from Miguel about his experience at the museum and memorial.

 Applications Now Open for EDS at Union’s Anglican Studies Program

Do you know someone who is discerning a ministerial vocation in the Episcopal Church? Please encourage them to contact Miguel Escobar, Director of Anglican Studies, at mescobar@uts.columbia to learn about whether EDS at Union is a good fit for their future goals. Also, the Fall 2019 application for a Master of Divinity in Anglican Studies is now available! Final application deadline is May 1, 2019.

EDS at Union Now Podcast

EDS at Union has begun recording conversations featuring voices from across the Episcopal Church. Now available wherever you get your podcasts, the most recent episodes feature conversations on the Flint water crisis and the Church’s engagement on environmental justice issues:

  • Bringing Communities Together Through Music – Dean Douglas interviews Dr. Sandra T. Montes, a worship and bi-lingual liturgical leader in the Episcopal church, to learn more about her experience using music to bring congregations and communities together.
  • Responding to the Flint Water Crisis – Dean Douglas speaks with the Rev. Dan Scheid, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Flint, Michigan. She and Rev. Scheid discuss the origins of the crisis, how the community worked together, and the Episcopal Church’s overall response.
  • Flint, Faith, and Justice with Anna Clark – This is a recording of Dean Douglas’ conversation with Anna Clark, author of The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy, after her lecture on January 30.

Stay Connected to EDS at Union on Social Media!

Stay up-to-date on the latest news and events taking place at EDS at Union. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. And be sure to follow Dean Kelly Brown Douglas on Twitter @DeanKBD.

Upcoming Events at EDS at Union

  • March 20 at 6:00 p.m. ET: EDS at Union students will join the Harlem Clericus for evening worship at Church of Our Saviour (a congregation of St. John the Divine). This is one of a series of monthly outings to local Episcopal congregations
  • March 25 at 8:30 a.m. ET: The Rev. Ryan Kuratko, chaplain to Columbia, Barnard and other campuses in northern Manhattan, will preside at morning Eucharist for the Feast of the Annunciation
  • March 27 at 6:00 p.m. ET: The Rev. Kimberlee Auletta and the Rev. Sarah Kooperkamp, co-priests in charge of the Church of the Holy Apostles, Brooklyn, will lead a workshop for students on finding support in initial years out of seminary and the co-leadership model they have developed.
  • April 3 at 6:00 p.m. ET in James Chapel: Union Theological Seminary’s Theology Field, EDS at Union, and the Democratic Socialists of America will be co-hosting a symposium on the Rev. Dr. Gary Dorrien’s forthcoming book Social Democracy in the Making: Political and Religious Roots of European Socialism. This is a public event. RSVP information available here.
  • April 4 at 12:00 p.m. ET: The Rev. Mary Catherine Young ’06, Episcopal chaplain to NYU, the New School, Cooper Union and other campuses in lower Manhattan, will preside and preach at EDS at Union’s noonday Eucharist.
  • April 10 at 6:00 p.m. ET: Episcopal Relief and Development will lead an evening workshop for EDS at Union students on Asset-Based Community Development and their strengthened focus on Climate Change.


Thank You for Your Support of EDS at Union!

Every student – whether currently enrolled or long since graduated – has benefited from the tradition of philanthropic giving to Episcopal Divinity School. Thanks to this generosity, EDS at Union will continue to build on the legacy of transformative theological education, academic excellence, and prophetic action. Click here to make a gift to support new generations of lay and clergy faith leaders. Checks can be mailed to Episcopal Divinity School at Union, 3041 Broadway at Reinhold Niebuhr Place, New York, NY 10027. Please also consider joining the Heritage Society by making a planned gift. You can indicate your intention to make a planned gift by emailing Miguel Escobar at mescobar@uts.columbia.edu.

Alumni/ae Updates

The Rev. Richard L. Blank ’64 is playing saxophone in a wonderful jazz quartet. In this video, he is seen playing “Spanish Motif” for Clifford Murphy’s 87th Birthday Celebration.

The Rev. Sandra (Sandy) Boyd ’78 will celebrate 40 years as a priest April 28 at Good Shepherd Church in Centennial, Colorado. The preacher will be Dr. Mary Sudman Donovan, co-founder of The Episcopal Women’s History Project and author of “A Different Call: Women’s Ministries in the Episcopal Church 1850-1920” (1986, Morehouse Barlow). Sandy is retired from parish transitional ministry and teaching but continues as supply priest and in the leadership of the Colorado Board of Examining Chaplains.  With a colleague, she published “Spiritual Discovery: A Method for Discernment in Small Groups and Congregations” (2015, Rowman and Littlefield).

The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas ’88 finished co-editing Rooted and Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis, to be published in November 2019 by Rowman & Littlefield. The anthology includes essays by 21 faith-rooted climate activists, and includes study questions and suggested spiritual practices. Margaret is helping to unroll “Sustain Island Home” in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, a new campaign by the Episcopal Church to educate members to make better choices around energy use. Sustain Island Home will be unrolled across the Episcopal Church by Earth Day. Talks, articles, and sermons are at RevivingCreation.org.

The Rev. Dr. Paul J. Carling ’02 has been Chaplain at the Episcopal Church at Yale (ECY) since 2014, and as of January 1, ECY has become, for the first time in several decades, a full-time chaplaincy. The Spring 2017 issue of The Anglican Theological Review described the history and growth strategy of this ministry. This year, ECY celebrates its 150th anniversary, offering inspiring worship, a transforming community and a passion for justice.

The Rev. Fred Fenton ’61 married Linda Scanlin on January 15, 2019. They live in Leisure World, Seal Beach, CA and are members of St. Luke’s, Long Beach.

The Rev. Dr. Robert (Bob) Gregg ’63 is Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, where he published in 2015 (Oxford) Shared Stories, Rival Tellings: Early Encounters of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Recent talks at universities treated “The Death Of Jesus: Comparing Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Accounts.”

The Most Rev. Jonathan B. Hart ’83 consecrated this as Primate and Metropolitan Archbishop of the Anglican Province of West Africa. The Liberian Observer noted in the following article “Hart has had a distinguished career. Not only is he the Episcopal Bishop of Liberia. He is chair of the Board of Trustees of Cuttington University, served as head of the Inter-Religious Council and president of the Liberia Council of Churches. He is a graduate of both Cuttington University, where he took the Bachelor of Divinity degree and the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was awarded the Master of Divinity degree. He has been honored with a doctor of divinity degree (honors causa) from Cuttington.”

Ms. Cynthia (Cyndi) Jones ’13 recently published an opinion piece in the New York Times, “What It Really Means to Heal.” She notes “Little do these strangers know — I do have faith, and the wounds that they see actually bear witness to a miracle. If they only understood that my scars are reminders of prayers answered.” Click here to read her full article.

After attending a diocesan gathering of chaplains in Albuquerque in October 2018, The Rev. J. Michael Jupin ’67and his wife Barbara moved at the end of August 2018 to their new home in New Mexico. “Over the months following our visit we pondered and discussed moving from our twenty-eight-year residence in central Ohio to Albuquerque. At the end of August, we did it – our old age adventure.” The Rev. Jupin’s writing on this experience and the months since is available here.

Hilary Pennington ’10 was profiled in the January issue of Duke Divinity’s publication Faith & Leadership for her work as the executive vice president for program at the Ford Foundation. Speaking about her time at EDS, Hilary said “The Episcopal Divinity School attracted me because it did a lot of work on liberation theology and social justice movement change. I felt that the kinds of changes I felt our society needed to make lay more in that than in what I had been doing. It was a chance to read and learn theory and history that I had not had. And it has 100 percent influenced what I do now.” Click here to read the full article.

The Rev. Canon P. Ronald Spann ’70 has been serving as the non-stipendiary director of the Christ Church Grosse Pointe Spirituality Center since 2002, and in 2017 completed 15 years’ service with Episcopal CREDO, having helped launch Presbyterian CREDO during its first two years. He serves as a spiritual director mostly in metro Detroit but works online with far-flung directees. On Feb. 25-27, he was a plenary presenter in Los Angeles at a symposium for East African clergy serving in the Episcopal Church. He and his wife Jackie enjoy visiting daughter Shannon MacVean-Brown, a priest in Diocese of Indianapolis, and enjoy having our over-protective bachelor son live with us on Detroit’s Eastside.

The Rev. Dr. David A. Williams ’72 is the National Director of Ceremonies for the Order of St John of Jerusalem, and Chaplain of the St David’s Society of Charleston, SC. He also volunteers at the local “Fisher House” for the families of veterans in treatment at our local VA Hospital. He has recently written an article entitled “The Spirituality of the Gun” (available by request only), is an NRA certified Range Officer and an avid sport pistol shooter. He lives with his wife and cocker spaniel “Andy” in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

Dr. Gale A Yee, Nancy W. King Professor of Biblical Studies emerita, is currently the president of the Society of Biblical Literature, the oldest and largest learned society in the U.S. Dr. Yee will be giving her presidential address at its annual meeting in San Diego, CA in November.

In Memoriam

The Rt. Rev. Joachim Fricker ’84 died on October 28 in Burlington, Ontario. “The Church was his calling but his family was his greatest love.” Click here to read his obituary.

Patricia Carson Mordecai died on February 7 in Scarborough, ME. Pat had a life-long and commendable career with The Episcopal Church both nationally and locally, including at EDS. A link to Episcopal News Services’ obituary is available here.

The Rt. Rev. Jose A. Ramos ’62 died on January 18. On January 12, he celebrated and reflected on the 50th anniversary of his consecration as bishop in the Anglican Communion. His reflections – written in Spanish – were read at his funeral on the 18th and are available here.

Sarah Davis Smith ’81 died on December 6 in Oahu, Hawaii. A memorial service for her will be held in Rowley, MA in Spring 2019 where she will be buried next to her twin sister, Sandra. For further information, please message Peter McDonald on Facebook.


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