A younger student body, expanding lay-educational opportunities, a new chapel in the works – yes, there’s freshness and newness at Virginia Theological Seminary – which is what Dean Ian S. Markham suggests traditional churches consider.
Dean Markham says much of the energy he’s seeing in the Church is coming from traditional congregations that are investing in non-traditional venues: Theology on Tap, coffee house ministries, and forays into cyber-space. In this interview Dean Markham shares his enthusiasm for church of the future – and how VTS is preparing its leaders.
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Meeting people where they are – whether it be a Saturday night service or Taize – is what building the Church in this new millennium is all about, says Dean Markham, that includes supporting chaplaincies as well as new, entrepreneurial ways to fashion the ancient message for a contemporary context. Here are my notes from the interview:
How to Start: Two Readings
Today’s leaders need to 1) read and understand where the congregation is and, 2) read and understand the culture in which we live. It’s the melding of identity to context/purpose that serves as the bedrock to congregational growth and vitality.
Europe the Exception?
While popular pundits predict the demise of Christianity in Europe will soon send the U.S. Church packing, Dean Markham makes the case for the exceptionalism of the European church – noting that in many, many other places Christianity, and religion, are simply thriving.
Don’t Stop Learning
I guess we’d expect this from a seminary dean – but Markham shares good advice on how to keep sharp through the years – it’s by refusing to consider learning as work, but as an aspect of one’s hobby – that can be enjoyed.
About Dean Markham
Ian S. Markham was appointed as Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary in August 2007. He holds a Ph.D. at University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, an M.Litt. in Philosophy and Ethics from the University of Cambridge and a B.D. in Theology from the University of London. Dean Markham has served as Dean and Professor of Theology and Ethics at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, as Visiting Professor of Globalization, Ethics, and Islam at Leeds Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom. He also served on the faculty of Liverpool Hope University and University of Exeter.
Dean Markham is the author and editor of numerous books including: Against Atheism: Why Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris Are Fundamentally Wrong, Liturgical Life Principles: How Episcopal Worship Can Lead to Healthy and Authentic Living, and Christ and Culture: Communion After Lambeth. His awards include the Robertson Fellow 2006; Teape Lecturer in India 2004; Claggett Fellow attached to Washington National Cathedral in 2000; and Frank Woods Fellow at Trinity College, Melbourne in 1997. Dean Markham serves as Priest Associate at St. Paul’s Church in Alexandria. He is married to Lesley Markham and they have one son, Luke.
Sponsors I Mentioned
Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest Episcopal Seminary in the U.S., forming men and women for leadership in the church. In addition to the MDiv, Anglican Studies and DMin degrees are their Masters of Arts degrees with a fous on Theological Studies, Christian Formation, Religion & Culture, and Biblical Interpretation. Check them out at vts.edu.