The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers
Director of Mission & Reconciliation and Adjunct Professor of Church & Society
In August 2014, I moved onto the Close and joined The General Theological Seminary community. It was, in many ways, a dream realized. I was serving as Coordinator of Career Services at Harvard Divinity School back in 2000 when I finally grasped the heart of my ministry: nourishing and companioning with people as they discover their place in God’s great big dream for creation. Through the ordination process, through a second degree at Episcopal Divinity School, through launching The Crossing church at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Boston, through working as Canon for Missional Vitality in the Diocese of Long Island – the path has twisted and turned, but I’ve never strayed far from seminarians and formation for mission and ministry. This is my passion.
When I think of the formation Episcopal leaders need for ministry in a world and church changing as fast as ours, I picture The General Theological Seminary. I picture people studying, praying, ministering, experimenting, learning, failing and trying again in one of the most dynamic cities on the planet, in close partnership with some of the most diverse and varied dioceses in the Anglican Communion.
I picture a seminary where students experience intense, life-changing study, field work and reflection in their first two years and then – thanks to The Wisdom Year – shift gears to grow in pastoral authority and wisdom in a range of ministry settings. I picture a school that honors Episcopal traditions, but understands that tradition is also a verb: we’re always in the act of traditioning, and our work here is to prepare a new generation to add their pages to the book.
Frankly, I’m not much for perfection. I picture a seminary where the idyllic cocoon has broken wide open and we can just be real: with each other, with ourselves, with God. And I picture a seminary where we bring all that we have – hurts, longings, hearts, minds, bodies, callings, gifts – and place it on the altar for God to refine and remake. And yeah, where we fall a little more in love with Jesus and with our brothers and sisters on the Way every day.
I picture a seminary where people tear up when they hear Leonard Cohen singing:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
I picture a seminary where people are praying hard and practicing resurrection, because that’s what Jesus asked us to do. Thank God for the road that brought me to this circle and to this passion.