Sewanee Defined as Place of Global Orientation

When the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga was appointed Distinguished Visiting Professor of Global Anglicanism on July 1, 2014, at the University of the South’s School of Theology, Vice-Chancellor John M. McCardell Jr. spoke of the University’s commitment to serious scholarship and the preparation of an educated ministry. “As part of our broader, long-range vision, we want to see students matriculating here from across the Anglican Communion. Dr. Tengatenga’s appointment underscores this global orientation as we seek to increase Sewanee’s diversity in both the college and the School of Theology.”

On June 30, as part of the Episcopal Church’s 78th General Convention, friends and alumni of the University of the South gathered for a dinner at which Tengatenga gave a keynote address. He opened by stating that with the current state of affairs in the Anglican Communion, Sewanee was the best place to be part of the restoration of sanity and equilibrium and to make a difference in the world.

“At the risk of stating the obvious, let me tell you how I see it lived out on the Mountain. Not only are we gathered under the cloud of the Most High but we also have a cloud of witnesses who question our motto. I will not bore you with the University's conflicted history of race relations and how it has colored some people's perception of who we are. There are those who will not see how far we have come and there are those who wonder whether we can shake it off our back.

Sewanee's aspirations are taking shape. Not only do we have a stellar faculty and staff in both the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Theology, but we have also begun to reflect a global orientation and multicultural outlook. We are on our way to being an institution that reflects our motto and the university's aspirations. Still, the numbers will need to be tweaked by intentional recruitment for it to be what we fully intend—a diverse community of future leaders, responsible citizens, clergy, and lay ministers.

Students at the School of Theology are engaging in many new cross-cultural programs, both in the US and abroad. Our relationships with Westcott House in the UK, Msalato Theological College and  St John's Anglican University in Tanzania, St. George’s College in Jerusalum, The College of the Transfiguration in South Africa, and the Seminario Teologia Seminario in Matanzas, Cuba, are growing and will be strengthened by continued mutual visits and exchanges. Our participation, and indeed Sewanee's leadership, in Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion cannot be overemphasized. We are a unique institution in the Episcopal Church and an exemplar for the mushrooming Anglican Universities in the Communion, particularly in Africa. Because we straddle the regular academy and seminary, we are uniquely positioned not only to build and strengthen more relationships between the Episcopal Church and the rest of the Communion but also to respond to the need for more mutual responsibility and interdependence in the area of the training of manpower. An intentional creation of a community of scholars among the faculty of these institutions and others in the rest of the world will help mitigate the dissonant discourse in the Communion. All this aimed at facilitating responsible "doctors" of the church for the benefit of the Communion; improving scholarship and theologically sound discourse.”

Tengatenga closed with an observation for the School’s seminary. “As for the School of Theology, I suggest a continued recruitment of people of color, going all out to increase the intake of students from around the whole of the Anglican Communion. Like all universities, having alumni all over the world extends the university's reach along with its influence.”