The Philadelphia Divinity School and the Episcopal Theological School merged in the 1970s to become the Episcopal Divinity School. EDS had diverse faculty (Episcopal, Presbyterian, Jewish, Asian, African American, Caucasian, men, women, gays, lesbians, lay, ordained) and a diverse student body (Episcopal, Catholic, Lutheran, UCC, Unitarian Universalist, MCC, Seventh Day Adventist, Baptist, Anglicans from Kenya, Uganda, Jamaica, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, etc), and it was part of a world class consortium (The Boston Theological Institute) which included Boston College, Boston University, and Harvard.
EDS was a special place dedicated to anti-oppression work, to an inclusive gospel, to sharing the all-inclusive and unconditional love of God.
And, more than a school, it was a community. One never really was graduated from EDS. One was degreed, but never felt the need to “leave.” One to three times a year, every year since I earned my DMin there, I would go “home” to EDS.
EDS lives on in the ministry of the church I pastor and in parishes, Cathedrals, Chaplaincies, service organizations, the diaconate, classrooms, and hearts all over the world.
Last year, EDS was closed down (unnecessarily, in my view, and in ways that many of us resisted). EDS’ name and money still exist as EDS@Union (basically the Anglican house of studies at Union Theological Seminary in NYC, my other beloved theological alma mater). If the merger had been done more transparently and honestly (by EDS trustees), and if EDS could have retained a degree program (MATS or DMin maybe), I think it would have been something I could have celebrated (two great schools joining forces), and/or if they had kept one or two EDS faculty (they sacked them all) that would have been at least kind (and bridge building). Instead, the merger feels more like loss and has caused grief for many.
These thoughts are with me as St John’s Chapel on the campus of what was EDS in Cambridge, MA is deconsecrated today. God bless the EDS diaspora and the EDS energy that still flows through so many ministries.