Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dr. Stephen Edmondson Leaving VTS to Become a Rector

Prof. Edmondson
I am shocked and saddened to have just learned that my good colleague in church history, Rev. Prof. Stephen Edmondson, is giving up his tenure here.

Here is the announcement just emailed by Dean Horne:

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

It is with very mixed emotions that I write to let you know that the Reverend Dr. Stephen Edmondson has accepted a call to be the next rector of St. Thomas Church in McLean, Virginia, effective July 16. Stephen came to VTS in 1999 after completing his Ph.D. in theology at Yale. During his eight year tenure here, he has taught courses in Church History and Theology. Stephen has been a splendid teacher and mentor for our students and a wonderful colleague and friend to members of the faculty.

I thought that you might like to hear directly from Stephen about the process of discernment in which he has been engaged, so I am forwarding the following portion of his letter to the faculty, explaining his decision to accept this call:

“I have struggled since my arrival here to balance my vocation as a priest whose heart longed for work in a parish with my vocation as a scholar. For the past eight years, my time has largely been devoted to latter pursuit, along with my teaching and my service to this institution. This has all been a blessing. I now wish to pursue a ministry of preaching, pastoral care, prayer, and teaching (in a very different context). I have prayed about this move for the past several years, striving to hear God’s call. In my conversations with the people of St. Thomas’, I believe that this call has become clear.

I have a passion for preaching. No ministry that I carry out in the world brings me closer to my soul than my time in the pulpit. I find my deepest grounding when I am permitted to share in the lives, the joys and the struggles, of my brothers and sisters. I have been drawn in the last few years to think and to write about the spiritual life. The search committee at St. Thomas told me that I was the only candidate to talk with them consistently about the power of prayer to change lives. Ironically, perhaps, my work in the introductory Church History class has drawn from me a desire to be more involved in the active life of the ministry of the Church. I enjoy lecturing on Francis more than Thomas, though no one will confuse my ministry with that of either saint. I feel a deep commitment to exploring and clarifying the place of intellectual and theological ministry in the life of the Church outside of academic institutions. All of this has led me to make this move and to make it with excitement.”

Stephen has agreed to teach Church History 1 and II, as previously scheduled for the fall semester of the 2007-2008 academic year. Since Stephen and his wife Cyndi are expecting the birth of their second child in late August, they have asked to continue living in their current VTS housing through the fall semester. I have consulted with Ian Markham and Amy Dyer, both of whom agree to this arrangement, as has the parish leadership of St. Thomas Church. That will also enable the Seminary community to thank Stephen next fall for his many commitments to our common life, and to bid farewell to the Edmondson family as they move from VTS at the end of this calendar year.

The departure of Stephen Edmondson from our faculty will be a loss for our Seminary in many ways, but VTS is not losing him altogether. Stephen hopes to continue his association with the seminary by serving as a field education supervisor and by teaching as an adjunct professor, as the need arises here and as his time permits. I know that he will be an excellent model of the learned priest who integrates his ongoing reading and study with the daily practice of parish ministry! Please join me in thanking Stephen Edmondson for his wonderful service to VTS and in wishing him much happiness in his new work as a parish priest. Martha Horne


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Cook, thank you for sharing this. Dr. Edmondson's lectures opened my eyes to facets of church history I had never known or mulled over. He will be greatly missed.

Thu Jun 14, 11:11:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Church needs scholars far more than the academy does, so good for him! The glut of academics and the paucity of learned clergy beg to be corrected by just this sort of move and I hope that many, many more academics move in the same direction.

I hope you will pass along to him my hopes for his blessedness for this decision.

Thu Jun 14, 03:51:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Peter Carey said...

Dr. Edmondson is an excellent teacher, and his course in Church History during my first year of seminary opened my eyes, mind, and soul to not only Church History, but also the history of Theology. He prepared impressive lectures, and punctuated them by deep scholarship as well as wonderful examples, humor, and insight. He is a great priest-scholar and it does not surprise me that he feels called to do parish work at this time, and I really appreciated his statement that revealed his prayerful discernment regarding this decision. As someone who is beginning my ministry this fall in the Diocese of Virginia, I am excited to be able to call Dr. Edmondson a colleague. As someone who will be beginning my ministry as a school chaplain but who wants to do further academic work as well as work in a parish before too long, I am glad to see that he will be bringing his depth of scholarship, theology, and practice into that setting.

I will always be so appreciative of Dr. Edmondson for his teaching of Church History and for the way that he introduced me to the theological tradition of our church. Blessings and peace to you, Dr. E!!!

Thu Jun 14, 11:25:00 PM GMT-5  

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