Thousands back call for reinstatement of 'GTS Eight'

By staff writers
October 15, 2014

A petition calling for the reinstatement of eight sacked faculty members at General Theological Seminary in New York is receiving huge support.

Over a thousand one hundred people have signed the petition at Change.org (http://www.change.org/p/board-of-trustees-of-general-theological-seminar...) in just 48 hours.

Supporters have urged as many signatories as possible before a meeting between the seminary board of trustees and the professors scheduled for Thursday 16 October. Former Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold will facilitate the meeting, it has been announced.

In addition, some 1,200 academics have now pledged not to work with GTS until the situation is resolved (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20931), over 1,000 people are involved with an online-support group and several hundred are involved with the reinstatement campaign through Twitter (@safeseminary and @Reinst8GTS8)

The dispute began when eight of the ten full-time faculty members teaching at General Theological Seminary, the flagship Episcopal Church institution, reported very serious problems with the seminary's administration through a number of channels some months ago.

Among their complaints were that the Dean and President shared a student’s academic records with people who were not authorised to see them, which would violate federal academic privacy law. They also complained about diminishing changes to the seminary's pattern of prayer and worship, high-handed behaviour, and ways of speaking that demeaned women and minority groups.

After being ignored "for months", they say, the eight faculty members wrote directly to the seminary's board of trustees about "a hostile work environment" overseen by the Very Rev Kurt Dunkle, and then undertook a legal work stoppage.

A further letter to the board set out their concerns in direct terms. The board of trustees responded by accepting the faculty's 'resignations' when in fact and law no resignations had been tendered, thereby summarily dismissing them. Replacement staff are being hired.

The dismissed faculty members are Dr Joshua Davis, the Rev Mitties McDonald DeChamplain, Dr Deirdre Good, Dr David Hurd, Dr Andrew Irving, the Rev Andrew Kadel, the Rev Dr Amy Bentley Lamborn, and the Rev Dr Patrick Malloy.

They outlined what the seminary later described as “alleged inappropriate and harassing statements by the Dean.”

The eight also said his management of the faculty and staff and his relationship with students has created a climate of “deep despondency, anxiety, hostility, fear, and retaliation” in the GTS community.

* GTS8 general petition direct, on Change.org: http://www.change.org/p/board-of-trustees-of-general-theological-seminar...

* Safe Seminary website: http://www.safeseminary.org/

* Fund to support the GTS8: http://www.youcaring.com/help-a-neighbor/support-the-gts8/243315

* Academics back dismissed faculty at troubled Episcopal seminary: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20931

* 'Reinstate the faculty unjustly dismissed from General Theological Seminary', by Simon Barrow, Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20932

* Facebook page to promote a general petition for reinstatement of the eight GTS faculty: https://www.facebook.com/events/331354327039048/

[Ekk/3]

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