VTS meets grant challenge by raising funds for racial and ethnic diversity initiative

April 1, 2005

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Very Rev. Martha J. Horne, Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary, has announced that the Seminary has met the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation leadership challenge received in late December to raise $118,000 by March 31, 2005, for its Racial and Ethnic Diversity Initiative.

“Under the leadership of Bishop Lee, the Board of Trustees, the Faculty, and Alumni Executive Committee of the Seminary have all set renewed attention to issues of racial and ethnic diversity at VTS as a top institutional priority”, quoted Dean Horne, “I am heartened that 100% of the board, faculty, and alumni executive committee; many diocesan bishops around the country who are VTS graduates; and numerous other graduates and friends have helped raise the $118,000 in such a short time. This commitment has assured funding from the Carpenter Foundation, which will enable us to step up work on these initiatives at the Seminary in the months ahead.”

Dean Horne emphasized that “the Racial and Ethnic Diversity Initiative is important not only for the Seminary, but for the future leadership of our Church.”

These initiatives will enable the Seminary to continue its ongoing efforts to help recruit and support students of color who will prepare for positions of leadership in the Church and the world; to provide additional educational opportunities for those within and outside the Seminary community; and to heighten our community’s awareness of, and responsiveness to, the complex issues of racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity.

“The Seminary will strive to raise additional funds for the Racial and Ethnic Diversity Initiative in the months ahead.” Ed Hall, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, stressed that, “It is very important to assure continued funding for this critical work that will enhance the knowledge and skills of our students, so essential for leadership in our increasingly diverse world.”

Much of this work is well underway at the Seminary under the able leadership of the Rev. Margaret McNaughton-Ayers, Associate Dean of Admissions and Community Life, and the Rev. Joseph Constant, Assistant for Admissions and Community Life, who joined the Seminary in January to assist with these initiatives.

Part of the initial effort of the Racial and Ethnic Diversity Committee (REDC) has been to meet and listen to different leaders and groups in the Church in an effort to build relationships and partnerships. In mid-March, the Rev. Joseph Constant traveled to the Episcopal Church Center in New York to visit with the Rev. Canon Angela Ifill (VTS ‘95), Missioner for the Office of Black Ministries. During their meeting, they discussed the challenges facing seminarians of color as well as how Seminary curricula could be developed so that they would reflect the diversity of cultures and religious experiences that have formed the Church.

Additional meetings included a conference at St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, NC (a historically black college) entitled “Discerning the Call of Ministry”; a meeting with the Rev. Jesus Reyes, Vicar, Iglesia Santa Maria, to discuss Latino/Hispanic Ministries; participation in the “Diocese of Washington’s Young Vocation” conference; an in-depth meeting on Black Ministries with the Rev. Canon Preston Hannibal, Canon for Academic Ministries in the Diocese of Washington, and the Rev. Robyn Franklin-Vaughn, Anglican/Episcopal/Lutheran Chaplain and Vicar of the Mission at Howard University.

In an effort to expand the communication network and to strengthen the recruitment of students of color, VTS will host a Hispanic/Latino Seminarians meeting on April 14-17, and will participate in the 7th Triennial Black Clergy Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on October 23-26.

For more information about the Seminary’s Racial and Ethnic Diversity Initiative, please contact the Rev. Joseph Constant at jconstant@vts.edu.

Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church and was founded in 1823. The school prepares men and women, representing more than 50 different dioceses and 9 different countries, for service in the Church, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas.