Twenty-two new students arrived at Chelsea Square this week, anticipating a new beginning. Orientation heralds the opportunity to welcome new students from around the country and world. In her opening remarks, Donna Ashley, Vice President of Advancement at General Seminary noted, “We have students joining us from as close at West Eighteenth Street and as far away as Kenya.” Ashley went on to share that one of the incoming students was actually born while his family was living on the Close as his father was a student at the seminary. Thus, Dean Dunkle’s “Welcome Home” invocation felt all the more apropos.
“General Seminary is expanding,” said Dean Dunkle, referring to the demographics of the incoming class. Two incoming students are professional musicians; several students arrived well beyond the reaches of the Northeast, including Kansas, Atlanta, and Southwest Florida. Other provinces of the Anglican Communion are represented, including the Church of England and the Diocese of Bondo. But expansion refers not only to the geographic reaches of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion; it also refers to ecclesiastical tradition. In fact, the seminary is welcoming three students from other denominations. “As General expands, we simply must look beyond ourselves,” Dean Dunkle remarked, referring to the active inclusion and recruitment of students from other denominations, “and why shouldn’t we? It sounds to me like something Jesus would do.”
Friday afternoon, they will meet with several members of the faculty for lunch on the patio. Other highlights from the weekend will include Dim Sum with the Dean at the Golden Unicorn, a Chinatown staple, and an outing to One World Observatory. On the one-hundredth floor of the tower, 1,776 feet in the air, Emily Wachner will identify many of our partner churches serving as Wisdom Year sites throughout the region.
Most importantly, the incoming students began their journey of education and formation with worship in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd last night. This is where it all begins and ends here at Chelsea Square. Some will study for one year, while others will study for three. Some will take ordination vows, while others live more fully into their baptismal vows. All will be formed and educated at General Seminary for the good of Christ and the church. The next chapter in the history of the seminary is unfolding, and General is expanding.