Episcopal seminary announces new affiliation

Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, which announced last year that it would no longer award degrees after this spring because of recurring budget deficits, has reached an agreement to affiliate with the nondenominational Union Theological Seminary in New York.

The arrangement will allow the Cambridge institution to continue training Episcopal clergy at Union’s campus beginning in fall 2018. The Episcopal school plans to buy a floor of a new building at Union and sell its Cambridge campus, according to the announcement.

Its faculty and staff will receive a “generous severance plan,” the announcement said. Students who did not complete their degrees this month are finishing at other seminaries. The term of the agreement is 11 years; both institutions have the option to extend it.


Future students at Episcopal Divinity School will fulfill denominational requirements for ordination and earn graduate degrees from Union, according to the announcement. The Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, a theologian and author, of “Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God,” has been appointed the new dean.

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“We had three goals when we began to plan this new phase in EDS’s life,” said the Rev. Gary Hall, chairman of the Episcopal Divinity School board. “We wanted to continue providing Episcopal theological education within an accredited, degree-granting program; deepen our historic commitment to gospel-centered justice; and provide financial strength and stability for EDS’s future. Today, I am delighted to say that we have achieved all three.”

Many other mainline Protestant seminaries have faced financial troubles in recent years. The announcement comes about a year after Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, the oldest seminary in the United States, announced an affiliation with Yale Divinity School following years of declining enrollment.

Lisa Wangsness can be reached at