Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Prayers Requested for Virginia Theological Seminary

Alexandria, VA – At the direction of the Board of Trustees of the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), the Very Rev. Ian Markham, dean and president, announced layoffs last week in an attempt to reduce salaries...by $1 million.

So reads the latest VTS press release. The news of faculty and staff being laid off came this past Thursday. It looks like six souls are laid off or otherwise let go, with nine others taking some form of early or good retirement.

Barney Hawkins, our new director of development, wrote to our alumni yesterday as follows: On Thursday, March 12—the day of the layoffs—Dean Markham spoke at a forum about the restructuring and listened as many people shared a wide range of emotions. There are those in the community who strongly disagree with the actions taken by the Dean at the direction of the Board of Trustees, and there has been no attempt to silence their voices. After the forum, the Dean walked around campus, visited people in their offices and listened as our community reacted to this difficult time with its unsettling consequences.

Complete information on who is affected in the restructuring is not yet available. Dean Markham is giving those people leaving the seminary time to tell those closest to them before their names are made public. What is public at this time is that Marge McNaughton, my friend, faculty colleague, and dean of community life will be leaving. Robin Brokmeyer, the director of our daughter's preschool, is also laid off. So too is Mark Rivenburg, director of information technology and Joe Pindar in mail services.

This dark time at the seminary came upon us very suddenly, and it is still hard for must of us to take in and comprehend. We imagine ourselves in the place of those losing their income, their vocation, their community; we contemplate their prayer to God: שׁתני בבור תחתיות במחשׁכים במצלות׃ "You have plunged me to the bottom of the grave, in the darkness, in the depths..." (Psalm 88:6).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

know that many are praying for all of you and God's work that you do. may peace be with you, however it may come. (and the word verification is "ferma" which seems, somehow, more than appropriate)

chrissie crosby

Tue Mar 17, 09:18:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Peter Carey said...

My prayers are with the entire VTS community as well...very tough times, indeed!

Peter Carey+

Tue Mar 17, 09:45:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger AKMA said...

Prayers for all affected by this dreadful turn of events.

Tue Mar 17, 09:47:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Anne Marie said...

Of course prayers for our beloved VTS. For those who have lost their jobs and for those who had to make hard choices, and deliver such unwelcome news. It is bad everywhere--my husband was laid off this week, and so many of my parishioners are in the same boat. Yet even in the wilderness we know the love, protection and redeeming power of our Lord.

Tue Mar 17, 10:17:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Dr. Claude Mariottini said...


When a situation like this affects you, all of us are affected, even when we are only indirectly part of the same community.

Northern Seminary, the place where I teach, also went through the same process and many people, dear to all of us, were laid off. Things are bad everywhere.

So, I and the people here at Northern can sympathize with you and the people at VTS. May the Lord bless you and VTS.

Claude Mariottini

Tue Mar 17, 10:45:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have nothing profound to add except my prayers. I deeply love the seminary, how it shaped me and what it does for the Episcopal Church. I can not say how sad this is for us from afar too....
--Kedron Jarvis
Montgomery, AL

Wed Mar 18, 02:33:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Heartfelt thanks to you all. VTS will be depending on all its friends in coming days. I very much appreciate all your deep care! ---S.

Wed Mar 18, 08:39:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You all are very much in our thoughts and prayers during these trying times.

Earnest and Shirley

Wed Mar 18, 09:04:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger THE REV. JEANNE FINAN said...

I really thank you for your post, Stephen. It has been very difficult to hear about this and to even begin to imagine the pain that must be present at VTS. It has certainly rippled out into the alumni community. I really appreciated your quote from Psalm 88. It feels right to name the darkness and not pretend it does not exist. My prayers are with everyone and I hope that soon Dean Markham will release the names so that we can pray for all by name, recognizing each person as an individual who is suffering, who truly has been plunged unexpectedly to the bottom. May God's love surround and hold everyone.

Thu Mar 19, 01:35:00 PM GMT-5  

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