The Very Rev. Gary Hall’s term as interim dean of Bloy House has been extended through June 2022, the Episcopal Theological School at Los Angeles has been gifted with a “world class library” and the Glendale school also has recently welcomed new board members “of underrepresented constituencies or diocesan interest groups and stakeholders.”
“We are going through an extended process of trying to develop new programs that more align Bloy House with the educational needs of the diocese,” said Hall, the former dean of Washington National Cathedral and Seabury Western Theological Seminary, who in August 2022 became interim dean.
Hall said that process includes creating a 5- to 10-year vision for theological education focused on unique Southland ministries; clergy continuing education; seminarian training; and broadening educational opportunities for the laity.
“In a secularizing, polarized time, the world needs better-educated Christians in general and Anglicans in particular,” agreed Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor, who also serves as Bloy House board chair.
“I look forward to a time when Bloy House can be an evangelist for teaching everyone about the richness of the history, traditions, and transformational power in Christ that we all share. One example is the Rev. Jana Milhon-Martin’s innovative program offering Clinical Pastoral Education for Laity, now established at Bloy House, right where it belongs.”
In addition to CPE for Laity, slated to begin sessions in March 2021, Hall also cited diocesan Asian American ministries, and the Social Enterprise Academy led by the Rev. Canon Jaime Edwards-Acton, rector of St. Stephen’s, Hollywood. “It is clear that the biggest asset we have is Los Angeles and the number of innovative ministries that … are done here that aren’t being done anywhere else, that we can develop courses around,” he said.
Hall also told The News that Bloy House plans to add courses specifically for vocational deacons. “Since the bishop is calling the COM and the diocese to reflect on policies for the discernment of vocations for the diaconate, Bloy House will develop a formation program tailored to those seeking ordination as deacons,” he said.
“We will continue to offer classes where priesthood and diaconate aspirants can share,” he added.
The Southland “is a laboratory for the emerging, multi-cultural, polylingual church — or at least the church that must emerge if it is to survive and thrive past the next generation or two,” Taylor said. “Church bodies diversify not just for the sake of justice and equality but because without diversity, we’re not reflecting, preaching, or, in Bloy House’s case, teaching God’s full dimensionality.”
It is clear that the needs of the diocese “have changed from when Bloy House was founded in 1958 in a house in Los Angeles,” Hall said. In 1970, the seminary affiliated with the Claremont School of Theology, a relationship that continues in spite of the Methodist seminary’s July 2020 move to Salem, Oregon.
Recent additions to the Bloy House board include: the Rev. Yein Kim, rector of St. Alban’s, Westwood; diocesan vice-chancellor Julie Dean Larsen and Sister Patricia Sarah Terry of the Anamchara monastic community, among others.
Hall said he has also met with Commission on Ministry members and plans a January 14 conversation with diocesan clergy “to ask how Bloy House can best serve them.”
Bloy House moved in July 2020 to the Glendale headquarters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Southwest California Synod.
In addition to the CST partnership, Hall said he hopes to affiliate with an Episcopal seminary. Formerly, Bloy House was affiliated with the Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, prior to EDS’s 2017 move to Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
Canon Steve Nishibayashi, Secretary of Convention and a 15-year board member, praised Hall’s visionary leadership, energy and efforts to stabilize the school, which “lives tuition cycle to tuition cycle.”
The goal is to develop new curriculum for a Fall 2021 rollout, and eventually “to expand programming to a broader base of potential students which then generates revenue to support the school,” added Nishibayashi. His daughter Kathryn currently is a Bloy House seminarian.
The school has also received nearly two thousand books from Mt. Calvary, the Santa Barbara monastery and retreat center of the Order of Holy Cross. The collection, consisting of Scripture, theology, church history, patristics, biographies and monastic spirituality volumes, will remain known as the Mt. Calvary library and will be available for use by the entire diocesan community, Hall said.
Mt. Calvary’s retreat center is slated to close May 31 after nearly 75 years in Santa Barbara, as the number of monks available to staff the center has dwindled.
Prior Adam McCoy, 73, who rebuilt the library after a 2008 fire destroyed the original scenic Spanish-colonial style monastery, said he is “absolutely delighted” to donate the books, many of which he received as gifts.
“I hope that Bloy House will flourish and its library will flourish,” McCoy told the Episcopal News. “There is a tendency in our culture to say, I don’t have the money, so we can’t do it. That collection is living witness to the fact that if you want to do something and let it be known, very often you can accomplish a great deal with very little money.”