The Episcopal Studies program at Candler School of Theology is a fellowship dedicated to equipping students for ministry in The Episcopal Church and all the churches in the Anglican Communion. We are a community of learning, worship, and service within the wider Candler ecumenical community, and we include faculty, staff, and students of all degree programs, ordained and lay, those preparing for parish ministry and those seeking to pursue God's call to ministry outside the parish.
Our primary gathering is the weekly Solemn Evensong and Holy Eucharist, held in Cannon Chapel every Wednesday of the school year at 5:30 p.m.; the liturgy is followed by refreshments in the Formal Lounge and is open to the entire Emory community. Other events include guest lectures by important figures in The Episcopal Church such as Visiting Professor of Theology Archbishop Desmond Tutu, periodic meetings of all Anglican and Episcopal students at Candler for discussion and fellowship, and courses taught by world-class scholars and teachers on the Candler faculty who are also active communicants of The Episcopal Church.
MDiv students preparing for ordained parish ministry under the supervision of a bishop may enroll in the Episcopal Studies Certificate program; the certificate is 30 hours in length and includes academic work in liturgical studies, Anglican theology, church polity, and Anglican spiritual practices, as well as supervised parish ministry experience each semester. All academic courses in the program are open to any Candler student.
Candler's Episcopal Studies program has a long history, beginning in the early 1970s with the vision of Bennett J. Sims, Bishop of Atlanta, who hoped to develop a program for ministry formation that would be actively engaged with the world. An ecumenical seminary that was part of a great research university in an urban center was an ideal context, so in consultation with Bishop Sims and Candler Dean James Laney, the Rev. Dr. Charles "Ted" Hackett designed a trial program, combining the existing M.Div. curriculum with select courses that would cover the canonical requirements of The Episcopal Church. In addition, students would work in local parishes for a minimum of ten hours a week, participating in all facets of church life, supervised and mentored by an experienced Episcopal priest. The core of the program was to be the weekly "Supervised Ministry" seminar (now "Contextual Education"), involving intense theological reflection on issues and incidents from the students' parish placements, in an attempt to identify, name, and plumb the theological meanings of the ordinary, often frustrating events that make up pastoral life. The weekly seminar would conclude with the main liturgical component of the program, the Eucharist. Hackett was appointed the first director of "Episcopal Studies," a role he would serve for more than thirty years, with Emory's Episcopal chaplain, the Rev. Nancy Baxter, co-leading the weekly program for over twenty of those years.
Over the years, the program has grown in size and consistency. The weekly Solemn Evensong and Eucharist now attracts dozens of worshippers, and classes with roots in the program, such as "The History and Theology of the Eucharist," include students from many denominations. Candler's Anglican and Episcopal students are daily confronted with the realities of living, studying, and worshipping in an ecumenical setting - a seminary of over four-hundred students from every denomination and tradition in the Christian family - that forces them to define themselves as Anglicans.. They benefit from a world-class faculty and a premier theological library, plus the resources of the Emory campus as a whole. Like the parishioners they serve, they must commute in city traffic, tend to families and homes, and find their community and spiritual resources in the midst of urban life.
In 2008, the School of Theology undertook a self-study to determine ways to build on the programs's historic strengths, enhance its contribution to the training of Episcopal priests, and increase the number of students in the program. An Advisory Board was formed and charged with promoting the program locally and throughout The Episcopal Church, integrating the Episcopal Studies program more fully and intentionally with the wider Candler curriculum, and involving alumni/ae in the ongoing development of the program. Now more than ever, Candler provides a diversity of opportunities for Anglican spiritual formation, academic excellence, and ecumenical conversation. Candler's ongoing commitment to Episcopal Studies makes it a destination program for Anglican and Episcopal students who seek the best theological education and priestly formation possible.
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