The Rev. John Westerhoff once asked in a book title: Will our faith have children? I could continue that question by asking: Will our churches have priests? This year, enrollment is down in two of the top Episcopal seminaries, Sewanee and Virginia Theological Seminary. This might not be good news for the 2.4 million Episcopalians in 7,679 congregations. Here are some statistics from Episcopal News Service:
At the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, 79 students are enrolled full time this academic year and five are part-time. Entering students account for 28 full-time and four part-time students.
There are 37 females at Sewanee and 44 males, with an entering class of 21 males and 11 females. The entering class ranges in age from 25 to 66 years.
Sixty-six Sewanee students are residents and 15 are commuters.
Sewanee did not supply information on how the 2007-2008 entering class compares to previous years.
Virginia Theological Seminary
At VTS, located in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., the student body consists of 151.8 full-time equivalents. There are 123 full-time students and 24 who are part-time.
In the entering class, 44 are full-time and five are part-time. The entering class size is down from the 57 who entered in 2006 and the 55 who joined VTS in 2005.
Clearly, it would be a good idea for us to pray that God will continue to raise up priests to serve at the altar.
The Rev. Linda McCloud
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek