XXXXXX, I would exercise extreme caution in drawing conclusions about complex matters from the rhetoric of a dean's fund-raising letter -- regardless of the seminary whose dean is writing it. I am troubled by your asking, in this context, whether TEC still accredits TESM. I hope that TESM still wants TEC accreditation. We would be poorer as a denomination if TESM were not one of our alternatives. I hope that TEC's accrediting agencies focus on the merit of the scholarship, not on conformity of theology or polity. In all of the criticism I have ever heard of TESM, I have never heard anyone suggest that its professors are inept or that its academic standards are awash. Quite the contrary: I have heard that TESM's standards are high and that several TESM professors are first-rate. As is often true when an institution or a people feel embattled, TESM students bring a fervor to the enterprise of theological education that is sometimes missing when students think less is at stake. Surely at some point every TEC seminary worth anything has felt, "We can no longer identify with the Episcopal Church." Have you not had such moments? I have, and I love this church enormously. Besides VTS, should not the dean of any of our seminaries fear running out of funds? I hope that I can be as faithful to my progressive convictions as Dean Zahl is to his. I hope that he and I both can be spared a church made strictly in our own image. The proper response to Dean Zahl's fund-raising letter is for each of us to write a check and send it to the seminary each mosts respects. Let us compete in doing good and in loving one another. Louie Newark deputy
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