by the Very Rev. Dr. Justyn Terry
Emeritus Professor of Systematic Theology
One of the great joys of life at Trinity School for Ministry is that we gather students from different parts of the Anglican Communion and from other denominations. We are finding that our identity as an evangelical seminary in the Anglican tradition is attractive not only to Episcopalians and Anglicans but also to Lutherans, Presbyterians, and many others. Some have asked how this works out for the on campus and online communities?
One of the things I find helpful is to remind people of our second value:
We welcome students and faculty who long for a church that is evangelical in faith, catholic in order, alive in the Holy Spirit, and committed to mission. We have a vital commitment to students from the Episcopal Church and from other Anglican jurisdictions both in North America and abroad. We also welcome students from other Christian traditions.
This is one of the shared commitments of the trustees, faculty, students, and the wider community of the School. We deliberately welcome these different students because of the gospel focus that permeates our classes with our commitments to seeing the whole Bible as the word of God and to world mission. We are an educational institution, not a political body.
One of the reasons that this is important is that we want to try to live into the ecumenical vision Jesus gives us in John 17:21 where he prays that his followers, “may all be one.” Part of our commitment as disciples of Jesus is to reach out to other disciples who are following Christ in other Christian traditions.
Another reason that this welcoming approach is important is that many of the students who come to Trinity are in a state of denominational flux and are not sure what their affiliation will be when they graduate. Each year we have a number of students who get ordained as an Anglican or Episcopalian who did not arrive at seminary with that expectation. We are committed to providing them a safe space for that discernment process.
The formal relationship with the North American Lutheran Church helps to make clear some of these ecumenical commitments. Other such relationships are also developing at the moment. We always make it clear that our identity is as an evangelical seminary in the Anglican tradition, and find that is well received. Growing numbers of students want to be formed for Christian leadership in this environment. Our task is to help each one of them to “rightly handle the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15) in preparation for a life of gospel ministry as lay or ordained leaders in the Church.
Probably the best way to discover how such things work is to visit the campus and see for yourself the rich community life that we enjoy. It is a remarkable thing that God is doing, and we give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the head of the Church.