July 6, 2021: An announcement from Wesley President David McAllister-Wilson
I am excited to announce that Wesley Theological Seminary is opening in time for the fall semester. The Administrative Council, in consultation with health and legal professionals, have devised a working policy and practice, “Safe Return to Campus” (find below), that aims to meet students at a level of comfort that works for them.
This fall, the seminary is resuming in-person classes, following DC and CDC recommendations, along with worship in Oxnam Chapel (Tuesdays at noon), on-campus housing options, meal plan options with our neighboring university, and community life activities. However, knowing that some people will not be able to fully participate in-person, we are also offering a robust selection of online course options, live-streamed worship, and virtual community life activities.
We’re also pleased to announce new hybrid pathways for students who can come to campus just three times each semester for courses, worship, and formation. You can find more about this option on the Admissions webpage. We are pleased to welcome prospective students, alumni, and friends to campus for events or visits in accordance with the Safe Return policies as well.
If conditions change, we will keep the extended Wesley family updated as to how we will proceed together. For now, we are excited to resume a full spectrum of in-person and online educational, worship, and community building opportunities this fall. I hope to see you on campus soon.
June 18, 2020: Update from Wesley President David McAllister-Wilson
Dear Wesley community,
We give thanks for each of you and the ways you have remained faithful to God in this time.
The Administrative Council met this week to review current health research and data on the coronavirus, the ReOpen DC plans and protocols, guidance from faculty, and feedback from the student body, and to make plans for the fall semester. In deliberating plans for reopening the physical campus, the Council has prioritized the following factors, as originally drafted by Professor Paul Cho:
- Prioritize safety for students, faculty, administration, and staff
- Deliver quality learning experiences
- Maximize student engagement opportunities
- Offer face-to-face options whenever possible and optimal
- Offer students the option of participating remotely even for face-to-face courses
The following decisions have been made regarding the general operations of the seminary and the fall 2020 semester.
Effective Tuesday, July 7th the seminary will move to a modified TIER 2 status. All classes will remain online throughout the summer. Seminary offices will resume operations with social distance protocols and staggered in-person hours. Guidelines for in-person community participation are as follows:
- Masks are required inside public buildings on campus at all times.
- All commuter lounges and indoor public spaces are closed until further notice.
- All persons should follow directional signs for movement on-campus, both inside and outside of buildings.
- There will be multiple hand sanitizing stations throughout the campus; please use them! High-traffic areas like the mailroom and administration hallways in Trott building are limited for appointment or prearranged visits only. Please practice social distance when traversing hallways.
- Food service will remain suspended and the Refectory is closed until further notice. Campus vending is also closed as well.
- Campus elevators are reserved for physically challenged persons and are restricted to only one person at a time.
- In-person Library services are by appointment only. Arranged visits are limited to no more than one hour.
To maintain a safe and healthy work and educational environment, we are implementing a health-monitoring system using WorkSafe. Staff, students and faculty will have daily check-ins to make sure they are generally healthy to come to campus. This app is password protected and HIPPA compliant. Visitors will be able to use this app as well. All community members should download the app via their appropriate App store. Information about WorkSafe is provided here: https://www.livesafemobile.com/worksafe/. Further instructions and training opportunities will be available soon.
OPERATIONS FOR FALL SEMESTER 2020
The Administrative Council has also decided to conduct the Fall 2020 semester with modified face to face (f2f) and online options.
• New student orientation will be offered via self-paced online modules at the end of August.
• Courses will begin as scheduled on August 31, and the fall calendar, including reading week and breaks, will proceed as scheduled.
• Large classes of more than 20 students will operate 100% online with synchronous Zoom sessions (either required or optional, as determined by the professor).
• Classes of 20 and under can opt to meet f2f in designated classrooms practicing social distancing and with options for remote/online participation.
• All people on campus must wear masks and wash hands regularly. Facilities staff will sanitize all used spaces at least once a day.
• All classes will transition online after Thanksgiving break for the remainder of the fall semester.
• Should an outbreak of positive Coronavirus cases occur on campus or public health officials determine it is necessary, all classes will move online.
Residential Life Operations
- Housing will provide only single occupancy rooms.
- All dorm communal lounge and gym spaces are closed. Shared kitchens and laundries are to be cleaned by residents after each usage.
- Until further notice, all guest housing and commuter housing options are suspended.
- Residents will be asked to regularly monitor their health and report COVID-19 like symptoms.
Community Life Programming
- Chapel, student group meetings, and general community life activities will be coordinated via online platforms.
- Small gatherings (less than 10) may be permitted on campus in spaces where physical distance can be effectively practiced.
- Commuter Lockers will not be available for use.
Campus Visits for Prospective Students
Usually, the best way to get to know Wesley is to visit! However, this fall, visits will be difficult and will not provide a full experience of our vibrant campus and community. We encourage prospective students to instead take advantage of our online webinars and prospective student events and to reach out to Liz or Elijah to schedule conversations with current students, faculty, and alumni or to sit in on a synchronous online class.
For those that still wish to visit campus, the admissions office will work to facilitate as positive and full an experience as possible while protecting community health. Prospective visitors must schedule their visit in advance, wear a mask throughout their visit, and complete a brief health questionnaire on the day of their visit. Visits this summer and fall will primarily include a tour of campus from outside the buildings and a conversation with an admissions representative. At this point, guest housing and in-person class visits are not possible.
These are challenging times, and we give thanks that the Holy Spirit is at work in you to call you to ministries of justice, peace, and reconciliation. We pray that God will continue to guide you as you discern your faithful next steps, and we stand ready to accompany you in your discernment and preparation. Please let us how we can help you as you move forward. May God bless you and keep you safe, and may God call all of us toward a more just, whole, and liberated future.
President, Wesley Theological Seminary
May 5, 2020: Update from Wesley President David McAllister-Wilson
What will Wesley do in the fall?
Often over the last two months, I’ve been asked about our plans for the future. I think of two phrases. One is from 1 Corinthians 13, “For now, we see as through a glass, darkly.” Like walking in the thick morning fog when I was a boy growing up near the ocean in Southern California, we can’t see what’s ahead. We keep going, carefully, trying to see ahead.
The campus will open in the fall if the regional governments say it is safe, and medical experts agree, and if other institutions of higher education do so. But it will not be just like it was last fall. Nothing will. Instead, the faculty is designing a variety of options for courses because we recognize both the anxiety and the hope for the prospect of getting together again. I, for one, could live the rest of my life without attending another Zoom meeting. It is not the same. But one way or another, the full course schedule will be available. And despite of the severe economic effect on Wesley, we have increased our scholarship aid and are adding and enhancing technological resources for both online and hybrid classroom experiences.
That passage from Corinthians is better known for another verse in the same chapter: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” It’s more than a wedding vow, it’s the way a Christian community works, especially under stress. So, out of care for the community, we closed the campus early. Now the students we are caring for in the dorm and the faculty and staff are all symptom-free. Students and faculty are creative and resilient, making the best of the online classes which began immediately. For example, Professor Lucy Hogan tells me her class has produced some of the best sermons she’s ever heard, and Professor Sathi Clarke has experienced a kind of caring community in his class he didn’t think was possible. And, Summer School enrollment is up over last year!
At the same time, Wesley is fulfilling our primary mission to serve churches as they walk through the crisis. Here are links to resources we have prepared through our Lewis Center for Church Leadership and our Heal the Sick program. I am preparing to launch a series of conversations about how the church can think about and prepare for life on the other side.
The second phrase that keeps coming to me is “Next year, in Jerusalem.” For centuries, Jews in the Diaspora have sung this at the end the Seder meal as a reminder of living in exile yet looking forward. Now, our students are dispersed around the globe, including the graduating class of 2020. We will mail them their diplomas, and we have prepared a short program to be broadcast at 2:00 p.m. Monday, May 11 as a foretaste. But next May, all are welcome back to a great ingathering of the Wesley community at the National Cathedral to celebrate in person. Now, through daily prayer and continued courses, we remain connected as a community. But as soon as possible, we will be back in the classrooms, the Refectory, the quad and Oxnam Chapel. Next year, in Jerusalem.
President, Wesley Theological Seminary
March 19, 2020: Update from Wesley President David McAllister-Wilson
Wesley Theological Seminary will hold the remainder of the spring semester courses online. All offices are on the job at a distance. We are continuing to maintain room and board for our many students for whom this campus is home. I am pleased to report we are aware of no one in the Wesley community who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. We are taking these steps both to continue to help our students stay healthy and to reduce community transmission in our neighborhood and in Washington, DC. I am grateful to the faculty and staff who working quickly and creatively to make all this happen. I am sorry to report that the 2020 Commencement service, scheduled for May 11, has been postponed. We will find another time to recognize the class of 2020.
These days are counterintuitive for Christians who instinctively gather and reach out in crisis. For example, after 9/11, attendance at worship surged and people volunteered for public service in large numbers. But now, churches are empty and the way we serve the community is to stay home. But our faith includes a recognition of the power of prayer and the wisdom and courage gained in the wilderness and in exile.
In the meantime, we believe the Holy Spirit is not constrained and finds a way to work through us. My niece, Emily, is in graduate school in Barcelona, Spain. (Ironically, she is studying international security). The city is in virtual lockdown. She reports that every morning at 8:00 p.m. everyone goes out on their balconies or opens their windows and claps their hands demonstrating their resilience and solidarity. A distance Vespers liturgy. I know the extended Wesley community, including our alumni, are looking for ways to do the same in communities they serve across the world. And, those of us with financial resources can help support those who will not have a paycheck for weeks and maybe months.
I think we will emerge with a yearning for physical community and congregational worship. And a renewed appreciation for character in our leaders. And belief in science. And a reminder of our interconnectedness through institutions ranging from public health, to schools, to the marketing supply chain that makes simple things like toilet paper available. Also, a celebration of the inescapably global interdependence of our world as we in the United States are learning from other nations, such as China and South Korea, how to better deal with this kind of threat to the common well-being.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1).
President, Wesley Theological Seminary
March 13, 2020: Update from Wesley President David McAllister-Wilson
I want to report on the steps Wesley Theological Seminary is taking to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
Classes were cancelled March 12 and 13 and, beginning Monday, March 16, all classes will be online until further notice. All essential services on campus will remain open with only those staff members necessary. All others will be working from home. All employees will continue to receive their wages.
Offices and classrooms are being sanitized. Everyone is being reminded, repeatedly, of the measures recommended by the Center for Disease Control to control the spread of the virus.
The administration is not aware of anyone on the Wesley campus who has been exposed directly, no one who has tested positively, and no one who has symptoms. We are taking these measures in an abundance of caution because we have a responsibility for the health and safety of the seminary community. And because we have a responsibility to others to reduce the chances of community transmission in the greater Washington area.
These days have caused me to remember Wesley on 9/11. It is very different. For one thing, there are very practical steps we can take this time. But just as in those days, the Wesley faculty and staff are responding with calm, compassion and professionalism. Faculty were already prepared to teach online, and they are reworking their classes now to be ready by next week, and the staff is working hard to see that the residential students have all they need. I am very grateful to these dedicated people.
And, once again, the Christian community is called to lead. One of our professors, Kendall Soulen, was driving by the Pentagon as the plane passed over his car and crashed into the building. He arrived on campus stunned. And then set about to write about the problem of evil – why bad things happen. He listed a number of possible philosophical answers to that problem. But he concluded that the Christian faith is really focused on what we do about evil. Another president in Washington said once, “All we have to fear, is fear itself.” Wesley, its staff and students and alumni are in the business of countering fear offering comfort and hope in obedience to Jesus’ commandment to love God and neighbor.
President, Wesley Theological Seminary