Bexley Hall names Thomas Ferguson as new dean[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Thomas J. Ferguson, the Episcopal Church's ecumenical and interreligious relations officer, will become the dean of Bexley Hall, an Episcopal Church-affiliated seminary.
The May 4 announcement said Ferguson will serve as chief academic officer and administrator of the Columbus, Ohio, school and will be responsible for the seminary's day-to-day operations, student learning, work of the faculty and stewardship of financial resources.
He will succeed the Rev. William Doubleday, who has been the seminary's interim dean since June 2009 and who will retire at the end of this academic year. The Bexley community celebrated Doubleday's ministry at Bexley on May 3. Doubleday also had been Bexley's professor of pastoral theology since 2006.
Ferguson has been a member of the Episcopal Church Center staff since 2001, initially serving as associate deputy for ecumenical and interreligious relations. He was appointed to his current position in 2010. During that time, he was the theological consultant for the bilateral theological dialogues with the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church. He also serves as a part-time chaplain at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Bexley offers a residential Master of Divinity program in partnership with Trinity Lutheran Seminary, on whose campus Bexley is now located.
"I am honored to serve as the next dean of Bexley Hall," Ferguson said in a press release. "This is an exciting time in the life of Bexley, as the seminary lives into its partnership with Trinity Lutheran Seminary back in its historic roots in Ohio, reclaiming its place on the frontier with its emphasis on ecumenical partnerships and innovative formation for ministry grounded in community."
In September, the Henry Luce Foundation's theology program gave Bexley and Seabury Western Seminary a $40,000 grant to support the development of a strategic alliance. Seabury, an Episcopal Church-affiliated seminary based in Evanston, Illinois, offers two Doctor of Ministry programs, a certificate in Anglican studies and several enrichment programs.
Bexley and Seabury, two of the smallest seminaries connected with the Episcopal Church, have been exploring ways to collaborate since 2007 with an aim to strengthen and expand the reach of their educational offerings while increasing the efficiency of their operations.
Robert Reber, Bexley's current interim president, said in the release that Ferguson's "rich background in theological studies and engagement in ecumenical and interfaith relations" will enrich Bexley's partnerships with Trinity Lutheran and Seabury.
Diocese of Indianapolis Bishop Catherine Waynick, a member of Bexley's board who chaired the search committee that selected Ferguson, echoed that sentiment, saying in the release that "his background in theological education and extensive ecumenical work make him the ideal person to continue our robust M.Div. program, strengthen our ecumenical partnerships and lead our growing commitment to lifelong learning for clergy and laity."
Ferguson will report to Robert Bottoms, currently interim dean and president of Seabury, who on July 1 will become interim joint president of both schools.
Ferguson has taught as an adjunct faculty member at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Claremont School of Theology, Union Theological Seminary and Church Divinity School of the Pacific (an Episcopal Church-affiliated seminary in Berkeley, California). He was ordained to the priesthood in 2009 and has served at Emmanuel Church, Boston; Miriam Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island; and St. Thomas Church in New Haven, Connecticut.
He holds a Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and is a graduate of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Yale Divinity School and Wesleyan University. He and his wife, the Rev. Shannon Kelly, who is currently the bishop's assistant for formation in the Diocese of Milwaukee, live with their son in Madison.