Category: Ecumenical Institute News

Dunning Lecture

The Ecumenical Institute of Theology will host Robert Louis Wilken, William R. Kenan Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Virginia, for its Dunning Lecture on Thursday, March 30, 2017 at 7:30 pm. The lecture, “Liberty in the Things of God: Christian Origins of Religious Freedom,” is free and open to the public. For more information, please click here to see the flier.


Ecumenical Institute Welcomes 12 New Students

With the 2017 spring semester poised to begin on January 9, St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute is pleased to welcome 12 new students to campus. The group gathered for the first time on January 4 for pizza and orientation with the deans and staff as well as a few faculty members. As is always true of Ecumenical Institute students, these women and men represent a rich array of denominations. Their goals, whether focused around professional excellence or personal growth, are equally diverse. We wish each and all a robust and rewarding first semester of graduate theological study.


Ecumenical Institute Announces MDiv Partnership

St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute will now offer Baltimore-area students a pathway to the Master of Divinity through a partnership with Lancaster Theological Seminary. “This pathway is ideal for working adults who cannot enroll in traditional, daytime MDiv programs” said Dean Brent Laytham. “I’ve long known that there are Baltimore students who want to study here with us, but need to earn a degree we can’t offer—the MDiv. Now they can.”

The first half of the degree is taken at St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute; the second half is earned through Lancaster’s easily accessible weekend program of unique and integrative courses. Most of the classes taken at the Ecumenical Institute are foundational in content and typically offered on weeknights. Most of the classes taken at Lancaster are integrative and contextual in focus; they are always scheduled on Friday evenings or Saturday mornings.

This partnership pairs America’s oldest Catholic seminary (celebrating its 225th year) with one of America’s oldest Protestant seminaries (in existence for 190 years). Lancaster’s newly revised, 75-credit MDiv is designed to address the pressing needs of the church and the realities of student’s busy lives. It is fully accredited, and is also approved for United Methodists who are pursuing ordination.

See more information, or contact Patty Rath (410.864.4203).


Public Lecture by Dr. Ellen Davis

Ellen Davis
Noted Old Testament scholar Dr. Ellen Davis will lecture at St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute on Friday, October 7, at 7 p.m. Her topic is “Envisioning Wholeness: Connecting Scripture and Health in Africa and Baltimore,” with co-respondents Rev. Darriel Harris and Dr. Dan Hale.

The lecture marks the return of CONNECT: Faith, Health & Medicine, the Ecumenical Institute’s graduate certificate in faith and health running throughout the 2016-17 academic year.

Ecumenical Institute Dean Dr. Brent Laytham selected Dr. Davis for the lecture because of her superb work interpreting Scripture from the perspective of wholeness. That work includes her scholarly tour de force, Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible (Cambridge, 2009). It also includes her dozen years working in South Sudan to develop theological education, community health, and sustainable agriculture.

In an editorial, Davis wrote, “As we have seen in South Sudan, whenever the church engages in health care practices with a scripturally informed imagination, lives are transformed.” In that same piece, Davis recounted how the Rev. Darriel Harris worked for more than a year in South Sudan developing and implementing a Bible-based curriculum called Community Health Education Program. Now based in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins’ Center for a Livable Future, Rev. Harris will respond to Davis’ lecture by recounting some of the challenges involved in connecting Scripture and health in Africa. Then Dr. Dan Hale, founder and Director of the Healthy Community Partnership run by Johns Hopkins Bayview, will reflect on ways that those same challenges take shape in Baltimore. The conclusion of the presentation will include thirty minutes for questions and answers with the presenters.

The lecture is free and open to the public. St. Bede’s Books will be on hand to retail Dr. Davis’ books, including the brand new text Preaching the Luminous Word. Call 410-864-4202 for further information.


NPR Author to Present Life Reimagined

On Tuesday evening, June 14th, the St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute welcomes former NPR religion correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty, who will be speaking about her new book Life Reimagined:  The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife.  St. Bede’s Books will have her books available for purchase.

We are co-sponsoring this event with the Williams College Association of Maryland, which will also be giving a special award to Robert Embry, the President of the Abell Foundation.

The program begins at 6:15, following a wine & cheese reception at 5:30.  We will be in Laubacher Hall.  Tickets are $10; you may register at


Ecumenical Institute Partners for New DMin Program

Laytham and Bevere 4.27.16-contrast600x406St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute has announced a partnership with Ashland Theological Seminary offering access to a Doctor of Ministry program, that combines the Ecumenical Institute’s strengths with an existing program’s advantages. Dr. Matthew Bevere, Ashland’s Associate Dean for the Doctor of Ministry, was here on campus April 27-29. He and Dr. Brent Laytham, Dean of St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute, offered an introduction to the new program, and individuals interested in applying were able to meet with Dr. Bevere.

Students in the new DMin program will complete 40 percent of their coursework with the EI’s exceptional faculty teams, ecumenical student body, and accessible class schedule, then continue the remaining 60 percent of their courses and their final Doctor of Ministry project through Ashland. The degree will be conferred by Ashland Theological Seminary. DMin courses will be offered on the St. Mary’s campus beginning fall 2016.

For more information, contact Patty Rath (410.864.4203).



Annual Dinner Celebrates Class of 2016

On Saturday, April 30, the class of 2016 and their guests gathered, along with members of the administration, faculty and staff, for the EI Annual Dinner. Always a highlight of the graduation season, this event not only celebrates the soon-to-be graduates but also announces the outstanding achievement awards, which this year went to:

Gary Staszak – The Maryland Bible Society Award for Outstanding Achievement in Biblical Studies
Paula Waite – The Deans’ Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theological Studies
Alaina Jenkins & Kimberlee Piper – The Deans’ Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Study & Practice of Ministry

Dr. Drew Strait was named the Distinguished Faculty Lecturer for the year. Dr. Laytham also announced the retirement of the Rev. Dr. Thomas Culbertson and thanked him for 28 excellent years on the EI faculty and Board committees.


Holocaust Remembrance

From the first blast of the shofar to its final, haunting note, St. Mary’s annual Yom HaShoah service was a moving and memorable interfaith prayer service. Planned and led by members of the Richman-Linehan Course in Jewish-Christian studies, it featured an address by Holocaust survivor Mr. Herbert Hane, prayer from the Psalms, Yom Kippur, and Taize, and an original litany. This was St. Mary’s Seminary & University’s 32nd annual Holocaust Remembrance service.

Between the lighting of the fifth and sixth candle on the Holocaust Menorah, the words “Forgiveness is a seed for Peace” were proclaimed in eight different languages, suggesting the amazing diversity of this class. St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute professors Dr. Rebecca Hancock and Rabbi Dr. Avram Reisner have been co-teaching the “Ten Commandments” with twenty-two students, including a typically diverse group of EI students, seven seminarians, and two visiting students from Towson University’s Jewish Studies program. The integrity and power of the service bore witness to the great collegiality the classmates have developed for one another, as well as their deep care for the occasion.



St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute Rebrands

On Tuesday evening, more than 100 friends of the EI gathered in Laubacher Hall to see, hear and celebrate the rebranding of St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute.

After extensive consultation with constituents and consultants, the newer academic division of America’s first Catholic seminary has developed a new trademark image–a seal mirroring the traditional seal of St. Mary’s Seminary & University, but with a woven cross at the center to to picture how diverse learners are united in a common pursuit—faith seeking understanding.

Dean Brent Laytham explained that while the legal name isn’t changing, henceforth the common usage will be “St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute,” recognizing that some constituents typically say “St. Mary’s,” while others say “Ecumenical Institute.” This new nomenclature identifies where we are, who we are, and what we are attempting all in one.

Finally, Laytham said, a new tagline will be used to verbalize “the motives of our students and the energy in our classes”: Seeking wisdom. Nourishing faith. Engaging community.