Sam Waterston to Chair General Seminary Campaign

press release

New York City — Stage, film and television actor Sam Waterston has been appointed Honorary Chairman of The General Theological Seminary’s “Leaders for the Church” strategic initiative, which includes a five-year, $21 million fund-raising campaign, the Seminary’s Dean and President, the Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing, announced today. Prominent Episcopal Church leaders, the Rt. Rev. Herbert Thompson Jr., Bishop of Southern Ohio, and the Rev. Daniel Paul Matthews, Rector of Trinity Church, Wall Street, together serve as co-chairmen of the effort. The campaign has raised $7 million to date to fund a campus education complex, endow the Archbishop Tutu Center at GTS, and support current and future educational programming.

“Sam Waterston joins the leadership of this campaign at a crucial moment of redevelopment in the Seminary’s history,” Ewing said. “As a person of deep social concern with a distinguished artistic reputation, and also as a faithful Episcopalian, he epitomizes the ideals of our historic institution. Sam’s participation as Honorary Chair is a wonderful complement to the work already begun so effectively by Herbert Thompson and Dan Matthews.”

The Seminary’s “Leaders for the Church” initiative, launched in May 2003, embraces a long-range organizational plan supported by the largest fund-raising campaign in the Seminary’s history. “We are equipping a historic institution for even greater service to the church in the 21st century,” said Ewing, referring to the Seminary’s founding in the early 1800s. “We are committed to educating and forming leaders for the contemporary church. In the largest sense, we seek to strengthen the connection between the academy and local congregations into which our graduates step as pastors and leaders.”

“I am extremely honored to be invited to represent General Seminary,” Mr. Waterston said, “and I am inspired by this extraordinary effort to preserve and revitalize a unique and beautiful corner of New York City. But the most important result of this campaign will be to extend the Seminary’s vital mission, with new programs and appropriate facilities to support them.”

Mr. Waterston is no stranger to General Seminary. His Emmy Award-winning television series, “Law & Order,” now in its 13th season, frequently uses the Seminary’s park-like, city block-sized Seminary campus as a location site. Mr. Waterston has made many “restoring visits,” as he says, to the Chapel of the Good Shepherd at the center of Chelsea Square, as the campus is known. The 1888 chapel was designed in the English collegiate-Gothic style by a noted American pioneer of the form, Charles Coolidge Haight.

The Seminary plans to restore and re-use its noted 19th-century buildings as it expands its programming. Through the creative refashioning of its Tenth Avenue buildings, the Seminary is establishing an education complex with modern conference facilities and 62 guest rooms. The complex will house the Tutu Center, a research and study center exploring the intersection of the church and world affairs, announced by Archbishop Tutu during his visit to the Seminary last May. The GTS Center for Christian Spirituality and a center for continuing education will also be quartered in the new state-of-the-art facility.

Stemming from his Oscar-nominated role in the “The Killing Fields,” Mr. Waterston has worked actively for peace in Cambodia. “I applaud the idea behind the Tutu Center at General, with its focus on peace and justice in an international context,” he said. “General Seminary is well-positioned to undertake important work in this area.” The Seminary is actively seeking early gifts for the campaign, which already include two commitments of $1 million each, the largest gifts in the institution’s history. A special endowment is sought to attract a figure of international stature to direct the Tutu Center.

Established 1817 by act of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, The General Theological Seminary is the oldest seminary in the 77-million-member worldwide Anglican Communion. It offers residential education and formation to those preparing for ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, as well as full-time and part-time degree, certificate and other programs for lay and ordained persons. It has continuously occupied the same square block of Manhattan’s Chelsea district since 1825.

PHOTOGRAPH: this publicity portrait of Mr. Waterston is available from the GTS Communications Office either electronically or as a photo-print by emailing or by calling Bruce Parker at 12-243-5150 ext. 285.