Virginia Theological Seminary: Celebrating the Richness of the Orthodox Tradition Which Makes Us Open to All

To form men and women for lay or ordained leadership and service in the ministry of the church while continuing theological education for clergy and laity. To serve the Anglican Communion and the wider Church and provide an ecumenical, international, and cross-cultural context for theological education with outstanding theological resources for students, scholars, the church and the larger public. Lastly, to be a racially and ethnically diverse community in living out our mission.

From a Room in 1823 to an 80 acre Campus Today- Seeking to discern God’s Will for Our Age

The core of the whole ‘VTS or Virginia Theological Seminary experience’ is living on campus and fully engaging with the diverse community of students and faculty. Living and learning in such an environment allows for a particularly rich and deep formational experience, and encourages the application of acquired knowledge outside the classroom. This educational model supports those who reside off-campus as well. Whether or not you live at the Seminary, you are sure to develop lifelong friendships here and become an active and valued member of their lively community. In addition, since VTS has been situated on the same property for nearly 200 years, they have developed deep connections with their community and through long-standing dialogue with local schools and service agencies; these institutions consider VTS’ students and their families to be partners in their work. VTS has also gained considerable fame through their faculties who are exceptional scholars in their disciplines and represent the best in theological education. Twenty-five full-time faculties and additional adjunct instructors fully engage in students’ education and formation for ministry, living on campus and establishing strong relationships with students through fellowship at meals in the Refectory, worship services in Chapel, and hosting students for worship and discussion in their homes on a weekly basis.

Virginia Theological Seminary is committed to providing exceptional residential seminary education, and charges tuition that is comparatively lower than many Episcopal seminaries nationwide and well below the median tuition. Each year, VTS awards over $2.25 million dollars as institutional aid through a variety of scholarships, grants, and other programs that assist nearly 80 percent of their student population.

Class, Service and Sharing: The Exciting Rhythm of Life at VTS

The educational experience at VTS begins with a core curriculum of scripture, theology, and church history, and expands to include electives and experiences that unite theory with practice. This integrative approach makes the curriculum come alive as students use their classroom learning in the field.

The VTS community is diverse in age, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, language, socioeconomic background, family structure, and many other ways. This diversity is a great blessing to VTS, and is nurtured by how they live together. Apart from defining a communal life through mutual respect and regard for one and all, Academic Freedom and Expression of Ideas are also important values at VTS, especially in times of disagreement.

Embracing a full range of worship opportunities, the VTS community gathers for Morning Prayer and celebrates Holy Eucharist daily. Evening worship in a variety of styles is also offered. Student teams led by faculty members are responsible for planning and carrying out different kinds of worship.

VTS affirms the centrality of the Scriptures, the historic creeds, and their Prayer Book while learning and living together. With its location in Alexandria, Virginia, near the nation’s capital, VTS offers on-campus housing, cutting-edge classroom facilities, a Refectory and Live and Worship on a Beautiful Campus café, beautiful grounds, and the opportunity to take courses offered by a consortium of over a dozen other theological schools in the D.C. metro area. Those who participate in Field Education placement enjoy the freedom to choose a congregation from among a robust group of participating churches whose settings, sizes, and liturgical styles mirror the diversity of the Episcopal tradition.

An Ardent Advocate of Inter-faith Dialogues

Appointed as the Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary in 2007, the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. can easily be seen as the most exciting and enthusiastic dean the world has ever seen. A quick glance through some of the videos in the youtube channel, VirginiaSeminary, can convince anyone of the sheer charm of Dean Markham.

Dean Markham completed his Ph.D. at University of Exeter in the United Kingdom where he focused on Christian Ethics. He previously earned an M.Litt. in Philosophy and Ethics from the University of Cambridge and a B.D. in Theology from the University of London. He has also authored and edited numerous books. He is a recipient of the Robertson Fellow, 2006. He was a Teape Lecturer in India in 2004. He was a Claggett Fellow attached to Washington National Cathedral in 2000; and Frank Woods Fellow at Trinity College, Melbourne in 1997.

Competent Faculty Members and a Proud legacy of Distinguished Alumni

Dean Markham has been well abetted by the dedicated faculty members who have gained prominence in their respective fields. Due to space constraints, we would like to mention a few of them only.

The Rev. Melody Knowles, Ph.D. is the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Old Testament. She has received her Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. Melody has taught courses on the religion of Israel, the Psalms, Hebrew and the Bible in films. She has also participated in various archaeological excavations at various sites in Israel. Her published works include Centrality Practiced: Jerusalem in the Religious Practice of Yehud and the Diaspora in the Persian Period (SBL Press, 2006), and Contesting Texts: Jews and Christians in Conversation About the Bible (editor and co-author along with John Pawlikowski, Esther Menn and Timothy Sandoval; Fortress Press, 2007). Melody was ordained in the Episcopal Church, USA, and has been active in congregations in Chicago and Poughkeepsie, NY.

Kathleen Henderson Staudt, Ph.D. currently teaches literature, Ministry, Practical Theology and such in the MDiv program and in the DMin program in Christian Spirituality. Kathy completed her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Yale University. She continues to serve as Adjunct faculty in Religion and Literature in the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion at Wesley University. She is the author of several published books:  At the Turn of a Civilization: David Jones and Modern Poetics (University of Michigan, 1994); Annunciations: Poems out of Scripture (Mellen Poetry Press, 2003) and Waving Back: Poems of Mothering Life (Finishing Line Press, 2009). She has offered retreats and workshops at many churches and retreat centers, both locally and nationally, including the annual Evelyn Underhill Day of Quiet offered at the Washington National Cathedral each year in June, as well as conferences on poetry as spiritual practice.

Gail Ramshaw, Ph.D. is a scholar of liturgical language. She is a graduate of Valparaiso University (BA), Sarah Lawrence College (MA), the University of Wisconsin—Madison (PhD). Ramshaw’s publications on the meaning of liturgical language include A Three-Year Banquet: The Lectionary for the Assembly (Augsburg Fortress 2004); The Three-Day Feast: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter (Augsburg Fortress 2004); Treasures Old and New: Images in the Lectionary (Fortress 2002); Reviving Sacred Speech (OSL Publications 1999); God beyond Gender (Fortress 1995); and Liturgical Language: Keeping It Metaphoric, Making It Inclusive (Liturgical Press 1996).   Her prayers have been included in denominational worship resources published in the United States, Canada, Sweden and New Zealand, and she has lectured on liturgical language in the United States, Canada, the Scandinavian countries and the Far East.

The Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes is currently Associate Dean of Students and Director of Anglican Studies. He was ordained as a priest at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Belmont, Massachusetts. His passion for education and personal growth transferred to a passion for parish life when he became rector of The Episcopal Church of St. James the Less in Northfield, Illinois. Mathes was also elected to serve as the fourth bishop of San Diego and was consecrated in March of 2005. As bishop, Mathes was responsible for raising up future leaders of the Church, walking with them through their discernment process and seminary experience.

Amelia J. Dyer, Ph.D.  is the James Maxwell Professor of Christian Education and Pastoral Theology, and Director of the Ministry Resident Program. She has earned her Ph. D. from Florida State University. She is a certified GODLY PLAY teacher and serves as a Christian Education consultant to dioceses and parishes. She is a Parish Associate at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia. She is also a member of the National Association of Episcopal Christian Education Directors and the Religious Education Association.

The Rev. Judy Fentress-Williams, Ph.D.  is Professor of Old Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary. She has received her Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible from Yale University. Dr. Fentress-Williams’ published essays include, “The Bible in Dialogue” in “September 11: Religious Perspectives on the Causes and Consequences” “Location, Location, Location: Tamar in the Joseph Cycle” in Bakhtin and Genre, and “Exodus” in Biblia Africana. She recently published a commentary on the book of Ruth for the Abingdon Old Testament Commentary Series.

The Rev. Robert Heaney, Ph.D., D.Phil. serves as the director of the Center for Anglican Communion Studies and associate professor of Christian mission at VTS. Heaney completed a Ph.D. in philosophical theology at Dublin’s Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy. As a mission theologian, theologian of culture, and Anglican theologian, Heaney has experience of teaching and ministry on three continents and continues to travel widely in the Anglican Communion. He is the author of From Historical to Critical Post-Colonial Theology (Wipf & Stock, 2016) and lead editor of Faithful Neighbors: Christian-Muslim Vision and Practice (Morehouse, 2016). He is the author of several journal and book articles including contributions to The Oxford History of Anglicanism; the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to the Anglican Communion; and Great Awakenings: Evangelical Engagements with Postcolonialism.

Talking about their Alumni, VTS is proud to have in its record the name of Rt. Rev. Philip Lindel Tsen. He was a bishop of the Anglican Church in China and was the first Chinese Presiding Bishop of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui. The record also mentions the name of Channing Moore Williams, who was an Episcopal Church missionary and later, a bishop in China and Japan. Recently, Dr. Christena Cleveland delivered the Sprigg lectures as part of Alumni Convocation. She is Associate Professor of the Practice of Organizational Studies at Duke University’s Divinity School and the author of Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart. She was named by ChristianityToday as one of 33 millennials leading the next generation of Christian faith.

Providing the Greatest Possible Exposure to the Fabric of Life in the US

Graduates of VTS are always blessed with myriad levels of opportunities in both lay and ordained setups. We have listed some of the recent examples-

  • Curate, Christ Church Cathedral, Houston, Texas
  • Chaplain, National Cathedral School for Girls, Washington, D.C.
  • Associate Rector, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Chicago, Illinois
  • Teacher, Msalato Theological College, Tanzania
  • Assistant Rector, St. John’s Episcopal Church, McLean, Virginia
  • Priest Associate, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Bronx, New York
  • Associate for Christian Formation, St. Cross Episcopal Church, Hermosa Beach, California
  • Canon Missioner for Youth & Young Adult Ministries, Diocese of Southwestern Virginia
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