At a joint meeting on October 3-5, the boards of Bexley Hall and Seabury Western Theological Seminary approved the creation of a federation to unite the two seminaries into a single institution.
“This was a historic moment,” said the Rev. Roger Ferlo, who became president of both schools on July 1. “What Bexley and Seabury have done is unprecedented in the world of theological education and will serve as a model for many other schools. I applaud the daring and courage that both boards demonstrated during this long and fruitful process.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Bexley and Seabury will remain separate entities but be united by a parent corporation that will be led by a single board of trustees and president. This model allows the endowments and academic accreditation of each school to remain intact while providing for unified faculty, governance and budgeting.
“A new seminary has grown out of these two institutions,” Ferlo said. “The board meeting was suffused with a sense of unity and understanding that Bexley and Seabury are both stronger than before.” After the board vote that created the federation, those present joined in a moment of silence followed by spontaneous applause and a prayer from the Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, co-chair of the Bexley Hall board of trustees.
Prior to the board meeting, the faculty of Bexley and Seabury met for a two-day conference facilitated by the Very Rev. Martha Horne, dean and president emerita at Virginia Theological Seminary. “The faculty constitute the heart and soul of the educational enterprise,” Ferlo said. “In this first joint meeting, we reflected on the radical changes and traumas of institutional change that have forced us to rethink and refresh our vocations as theological educators and the vocation of these two historic institutions. Our time together was full and rich, and we are emboldened for what lies ahead.”
After a period of due diligence, the final legal approval of the federation will take place at a board meeting in February and will be retroactive to January 1, 2013. Ferlo will be installed as president of the federation of Bexley and Seabury at a service planned for Indianapolis in April 2013.