FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BUTLER BASS, SACHS ARE SEABURY’S FIRST CHABRAJA FELLOWS
Scholars join Seabury to help reshape theological education for the changing church
EVANSTON, ILLINOIS, March 11, 2011—Diana Butler Bass and the Rev. Dr. William Sachs are the first recipients of Seabury Western Seminary’s Chabraja Fellowships, Robert Bottoms, Seabury’s interim dean and president announced today.
The fellowships are sponsored by a grant from The Nicholas and Eleanor Chabraja Foundation. Eleanor Chabraja has been a member of Seabury’s Board of Trustees since 2007. The fellowships will be awarded to innovative church leaders who will help Seabury to reshape theological education in response to the changing needs of the 21st century church.
Bass will lead what she described as a “floating thinking tank” on the changing nature of religion and theological education that will meet four to six times in cities across the country. She will also provide leadership for a major conference on the future of the church. Sachs will teach a course on church history and participate in Seabury’s partnership with the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Both will consult with Bottoms and other leaders at Seabury.
“We are deeply grateful to Eleanor Chabraja for her commitment to the work we’ve undertaken here at Seabury,” Bottoms said. “Her generosity has made it possible for us to work with two of the most compelling thinkers in the contemporary church, and I am delighted to welcome Diana and Bill into the Seabury community.”
Bass, a church historian, writer and much sought-after speaker, is the author of numerous books including The Practicing Congregation, A People’s History of Christianity and Christianity for the Rest of Us. She blogs regularly for Beliefnet and The Huffington Post. From 2002 to 2006, she was the project director of a national Lilly Endowment funded study of mainline Protestant vitality. She holds a Ph.D. from Duke University.
As a Chabraja Fellow, she will lead a series of conversations in various cities involving 15-25 invited participants, including bishops, clergy and laity, who will explore religious and demographic trends, and attempt to understand their significance for theological education and for the church.
“We need to open our imaginations, not thinking about what theological education used to look like, but what a community of the future might look like, and what form it would take,” said Bass, who has taught at numerous colleges and seminaries.
“I want us to look at the world around us and think in as wide open a fashion as we can about what theology has to do with it,” she said, “and I am grateful that Seabury has given us that opportunity.”
Sachs, the founding director of the Center for Interfaith Reconciliation, which is based in Richmond, Virginia, and promotes Christian-Muslim understanding, was previously a vice president of Episcopal Church Foundation. He is the author of four books, most recently Homosexuality and the Crisis of Anglicanism, and is one of the editors of the forthcoming Oxford History of Anglicanism. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
Sachs will teach the course Episcopal Church History, Polity and Canon Law from January 23-27, 2012. He will also attend the June 13-17 leadership program offered at Seabury in conjunction with the Kellogg School and work with Bottoms to develop leadership programs for Seabury.
“Seabury is to be commended for a boldness, a sense of possibility, of positive energy," he said. “It’s beyond taking risks. They are looking at creative, constructive ways to rewrite the script of theological education. It's exciting to be a part of that."
Sachs is particularly interested in the question of vocation and how people carry their faith into their daily lives. "If I'm working in an office, do I just bury the fact that I'm an Episcopalian?" he asked. "How do you carry your faith into daily life? How do you live as a person of a particular faith in a world of plural faiths?"
Seabury is what's next in a seminary: Our theological education—from single classes to certificates and doctoral degrees—embodies generous Christianity and is open to the intellectually and spiritually curious. For church leaders, for seminarians and for seekers, Seabury’s innovative programs are rooted in the Episcopal tradition and presented with academic rigor. Find out what’s next at www.seabury.edu.