Resolution Regarding DFMS/BSSF Memorandum of Understanding
Resolved that on lands that were tended by the Taíno peoples, taken from them and renamed San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, meeting on April 20-23, 2022, finds that there is a crisis in The Episcopal Church regarding the growth and development of Indigenous clergy and lay leadership and that creative and culturally responsive leadership development is necessary to develop a new generation of Indigenous leaders; and be it further
Resolved that the Executive Council believes that a proposed Joint Theological Education Program Partnership between the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, working through its Office of Indigenous Ministries, and Bexley Hall Seabury Western Theological Seminary will help develop such creative and culturally responsive leadership development education; and be it further
Resolved, that the Memorandum of Understanding between the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and Bexley Hall Seabury Western Theological Seminary, substantially in the form attached hereto, is hereby approved and authorized to be executed, with such minor modifications, amendments or changes therein as necessary to be reviewed and approved by the Chief Legal Officer.
Memorandum of Understanding and Agreement - March 28, 2022
This Agreement (the “Agreement”) is between the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (“DFMS”), a New York not-for-profit corporation and the Bexley Hall Seabury Western Theological Seminary Federation Inc. (“BSSF”), an independent Illinois-based graduate theological school of The Episcopal Church (collectively, the “Parties”).
WHEREAS, there is a crisis in The Episcopal Church regarding the growth and development of Indigenous clergy and lay leadership; and
WHEREAS, the Parties believe that creative and culturally responsive leadership development is necessary to develop a new generation of Indigenous leaders; and
WHEREAS, DFMS created the position of Indigenous Theological Coordinator in 2018 in the Office of Indigenous Ministries to respond to this crisis; and
WHEREAS, current theological educational programs lack a specific understanding of Indigenous culture, values, and learning styles; and
WHEREAS, historically, intentional partnerships with schools or seminaries committed to providing education and training to Indigenous students have provided some measure of success in leadership training; and
WHEREAS, BSSF’s predecessors, Seabury Divinity School and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary implemented partnerships that resulted in the ordination of Enmegahbowh, the first Indigenous Episcopal priest and the consecration of Harold Stephen Jones, the first Indigenous Episcopal bishop; and
WHEREAS, building on these historical precedents (further described in the historical addendum), the Parties believe that a new partnership is necessary; and
WHEREAS, BSSF and DFMS, working through its Office of Indigenous Ministries, are committed to this partnership and to initiate a two-year pilot project, with the generous support of Trinity Wall Street’s Leadership Development Initiative;
The Parties therefore agree as follows:
- The Parties recognize that this Agreement proposes a new and unique relationship certain to include unforeseen challenges and opportunities. The Parties pledge to work together in a spirit of cooperation and innovation and in good faith to resolve any dispute or disagreement concerning the scope or intent of this Agreement.
- The Joint Theological Education Program Partnership (“JTEPP” or the “Project”). The Parties agree to collaborate on creating and offering theological education programs, including:
- Bexley Seabury’s Pilot Program of a Competency-Based, Mentor Assessed MDiv. for up to ten students;
- the Two Plus Two Undergraduate Program in Applied Theology (with Sitting Bull College), for up to ten students; and
- teaching the Exploring the Doctrine of Discovery courses in the graduate and lifelong learning programs at BSSF.
- Term. The Term of this Agreement shall be from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2024. At least ninety days before the expiration of the Agreement (and throughout the Project), the parties shall confer as to whether the Agreement should be continued, modified, or terminated.
- DFMS Role: The existing DFMS Indigenous Theological Education Coordinator shall devote sufficient time to the JTEPP project’s success, including, but not limited to:
- Attend and support annual conferences related to JTEPP and Indigenous Ministries;
- Coordinate and support JTEPP Theological Education Initiatives, including
○liaison with DFMS Office of Indigenous Ministries Missioner;
○liaison with BSSF President, Academic Dean, Director of Distributed and Lifelong Learning Initiatives;
○liaison with Tribal College Dean of Academics;
○oversee BSSF’s Two Plus Two Program (including liaison with Sitting Bull College) and development of courses for, among other subjects, Applied Theology;
○review BSSF Pathways courses for cultural sensitivity;
- teach the Doctrine of Discovery course for lifelong learning and graduate programs at BSSF,
- provide professional development for BSSF faculty and mentors, particularly related to how Indigenous people learn and exemplary ways of teaching and mentoring Indigenous learners,
- co-direct mentor-assessed MDiv Pilot Program, including necessary resources for research and evaluation of project,
- mentor students in mentor-assessed MDiv option,
- collaborate on the development of resources for training and supporting Indigenous ministers, lay and ordained, particularly in small churches,
- manage grants including writing and reporting as assigned.
- BSSF Role. BSSF shall support the Indigenous Theological Coordinator in fulfilling the above responsibilities in various ways including, but not limited to:
- provide the basic curriculum for the MDiv. program and the Director of the Pathways program;
- Promote and encourage enrollment in JTEPP programs, including the Doctrine of Discovery course to its constituents, including students in other programs;
- Support the on-line education of the JTEPP participants and the technical support necessary for the infrastructure of the JTEPP project;
- Include the Indigenous Theological Education Coordinator in faculty meetings and other deliberative and decision making bodies of the seminary as appropriate to ensure awareness and integration of the JTEPP Program in the work of BSSF;
- Collaborate with Sitting Bull College in creation of the Two plus Two program;
- Provide faculty for implementation of the JTEPP program, including mentors for its students;
- Ensure that BSSF faculty engage in continuing education to deepen their understand of Indigenous culture and learning styles to maximize the learning of JTEPP participants;
- Support and enroll students in the JTEPP program;
- Financing. The Theological Education Coordinator is an existing DFMS staff member and, as such, DFMS will provide funding for the salary for the Theological Education Coordinator. Likewise, BSSF will pay the salary of any employees involved in the Project. Travel expenses will be the responsibility of the institution sponsoring the event the Theological Education Coordinator attends, i.e., if a BSSF event, BSSF shall pay for travel expenses, while if a DFMS-sponsored event, DFMS shall pay for travel expenses.
- Employment. All faculty and staff involved with the JTEPP shall remain employees of their home institution, i.e., employees of DFMS shall remain employees of DFMS and all BSSF employees shall remain BSSF employees. DFMS and BSSF shall be responsible for salaries, benefits, and other expenses, and all employment policies, for their own employees and no separate or new employment relationship shall be created by the Project.
8.. Joint Ownership of Intellectual Property. The Parties agree that all Intellectual Property that is developed through the JTEPP, shall be jointly owned by the Parties, and that neither Party shall have the right to license such Intellectual Property to another party without the prior written consent of the other Party. However, since the intent and spirit of the JTEPP is to expand opportunity for all, professional development and other materials used in the development of the Project should be produced with the intent of making them available to all as much as possible. Notwithstanding the foregoing, to the extent that Intellectual Property arising out of the training constitutes an improvement, update, or derivative work of any Intellectual Property owned by a Party as of the effective date of this Agreement, such new Intellectual Property shall be owned solely by the Party that owns the underlying Intellectual Property.
For purposes of this Agreement, “Intellectual Property” means any invention, modification, discovery, design, development, improvement, process, software program, work of authorship, documentation, formula, data, design, technique, know-how, trade secret, idea or other intellectual property right whatsoever or any interest therein, whether or not patentable or registerable under copyright, trademark or similar statutes or subject to analogous protection, including, but not limited to training modules, curriculum materials, videos, webinars, podcasts (audio and video), social media postings, presentations, articles, and/or other writings.
- Confidentiality of Information. The Parties further agree to maintain in confidence and trust any confidential information disclosed by the other Party pursuant to this Agreement and to take all reasonable precautions to prevent any unauthorized disclosure of any such documents or information. DFMS further agrees that it may create, receive from or on behalf of BSSF, or have access to, records or record systems that are subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), 20 U.S.C. Section 1232g (collectively, the “FERPA Records”). DFMS represents, warrants, and agrees that it will: (1) hold the FERPA Records in strict confidence and will not use or disclose the FERPA Records except as (a) permitted or required by the Project, (b) required by law, or (c) otherwise authorized by BSSF in writing; (2) safeguard the FERPA Records according to commercially reasonable administrative, physical and technical standards that are no less rigorous than the standards by which DFMS protects its own confidential information; and (3) continually monitor its operations and take any action necessary to assure that the FERPA Records are safeguarded in accordance with the terms of this Agreement.
- Anti-Discrimination/Anti-Harassment & Anti-Sexual Exploitation. Both Parties agree that they are in full compliance with the Anti-Discrimination/Anti-Sexual Harassment & Anti-Sexual Exploitation Policies of The Executive Council/DFMS and shall comply with all such policies during all facets of the JTEPP.
- Representations and Warranties. Each Party represents and warrants to the other that this Agreement constitutes a legal, valid and binding obligation of the representing Party, enforceable against it in accordance with the terms hereof. The individual signing this Agreement on behalf of each Party represents and warrants to the other Party that such individual has all necessary legal capacity to enter into this Agreement on behalf of the Party it represents.
- Governing Law and Dispute Resolution. This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of New York without regard to its choice of law provisions.
- Assignment. No Party may assign this Agreement and/or any of its rights or obligations hereunder without the prior written consent of the other Party.
- Amendment. This Agreement may be amended only by the written agreement of all the Parties.
DOMESTIC & FOREIGN MISSIONARY BEXLEY HALL SEABURY
SOCIETY OF THE PROTESTANT WESTERN THEOLOGICAL
EPISCOPAL CHURCH SEMINARY FEDERATION, INC.
IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Purpose: History of TEC’s Indigenous Ministries and Bexley Seabury in response to Indigenous leadership needs
There is a crisis in The Episcopal Church regarding the future of Indigenous congregational leadership. Currently there are only four people identified as Indigenous in an ordination process within their dioceses, and only two enrolled in Episcopal seminaries. This is not a recent development, but one that has reoccurred persistently since TEC began ordaining Indigenous people in the 19th century. With the creation of the Indigenous Theological Education Coordinator position in 2018, TEC is now in a unique position to respond to it.
Inherent in this crisis is TEC’s need to establish longstanding theological education programming for Indigenous people that is consistent with Indigenous culture, values and learning styles, and is affordable. The traditional three-year M.Div. programs, as the norm of the past, were generally not an effective method to this end, as they required Indigenous people to leave their families and cultural support systems, which for many Indigenous people is unthinkable and an unrealistic expectation. Additionally, these programs typically were not designed to accommodate students without a bachelor’s degree. Scholarship programs, while existing, do not address the deeper structural issues.
One strategy previously used with some measure of success is a partnership with a school or seminary that is intentionally committed to providing education and training to Indigenous students. This has happened in TEC on two occasions: in the 1800s with Seabury Divinity School and in the 1980s with Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. Such a strategy has also been successful in the Presbyterian Church with Cook School of Theology, and the Anglican Church of Canada with the Indian Studies program at Vancouver School of Theology. Building on this historic precedent, DFMS and the Office of Indigenous now have an opportunity to establish a similar partnership with Bexley Seabury Seminary in Chicago.
There is a strong historical precedent for this. Bexley Seabury’s history goes back to 1858, when James Lloyd Breck founded the Bishop Seabury Mission in Faribault, Minnesota, for the purpose of providing education from primary school through theological studies for both Indigenous people and Euro-American settlers. Henry Benjamin Whipple, the first Bishop of Minnesota and an advocate for the Dakota and Ojibwe people in his diocese, established the Seabury Divinity School for the training of clergy as one of three schools among the Bishop Seabury Mission. The result was a significant number of Indigenous people attending theological school and becoming ordained, including Enmegahbowh, the first Indigenous Episcopal priest. By the early 1900s, Seabury Divinity School continued to have a vibrant student body but was chronically short of funds, while another seminary in Illinois, Western Theological Seminary, was financially secure but low on student numbers. They merged in 1933, forming Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston. Seabury-Western continued its tradition of provided theological education to Indigenous students for decades, including Harold Stephen Jones, who became the first Indigenous Episcopal bishop in 1972. In 1985, a group of bishops serving Indigenous dioceses met with the Seabury-Western administration, faculty and trustees, and the DFMS Indigenous Missioner, Owanah Anderson, to address the “leadership crisis confronting the Episcopal Church in its Native American ministry” (The Evanston Covenant, see attachment), and calling for “a cohesive, consistent, and cooperative response on the national level” (The Evanston Covenant). The result was a national network including Indigenous dioceses, the DFMS Office of Indigenous Ministries, and Seabury-Western as “integral institutions to the development of ordained leadership in our church and applaud their commitment to undertake this ministry in partnership with our church” (The Evanston Covenant). A substantial scholarship fund was established for Indigenous students, and between 1986 and 1993 over twenty Indigenous students had either graduated with degrees or taken some course work leading to their ordinations. These students included Michael Smith, former bishop of North Dakota. Success was limited however, because a longstanding educational framework for Indigenous programming was not fully established, and with transitions of TEC Indigenous missioners and seminary staff and administration over time, along with the depletion of scholarship funds, the program unraveled by the late 1990s.
The current proposed association between Bexley Seabury Seminary and the DFMS Office of Indigenous Ministries will initiate a two-year pilot project that will provide theological education and leadership training to Indigenous students within a program that is non-residential, Indigenous focused with regard to teaching and learning styles, culturally relevant, and affordable due to a significant grant from Trinity Church Wall Street’s Leadership Development Initiative. The goal is to establish a foundation for Indigenous Theological Education that will be longstanding, enduring staff and administration transitions, in its response to the needs of TEC’s Indigenous congregations and communities.