Deborah Jackson named CDSP associate dean of formation and recruitment

Church Divinity School of the Pacific
Posted Jul 9, 2024

On Tuesday, July 9, Church Divinity School of the Pacific announced the appointment of the Rev. Deborah Jackson, DMin, to the new position of associate dean of formation and recruitment.  

She will oversee the community-based spiritual development of CDSP’s student body, continue to develop and support the seminary’s groundbreaking post-graduation curacy program, and work with dioceses throughout the Episcopal Church to identify strong candidates for the school’s fully funded hybrid MDiv program. 

“Dr. Jackson is distinctively positioned for this work, with a background that includes a decade in seminary administration, an impressive portfolio of churchwide leadership and service, and a previous secular career in healthcare management and marketing,” said the Rev. John Dwyer, senior vice president and chief operating officer of CDSP, who oversaw the search. 

Jackson is currently associate dean for community life for the School of Theology at the University of the South, commonly known as Sewanee, where she has served since 2013. Previously she served in multiple clergy roles in the Diocese of Florida, including canon for social ministries and later canon for liturgy and administration at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Jacksonville. 

“Formation is my passion and was a big part of my role at Sewanee for the last eleven years,” Jackson said of her interest in the new position. “I like when a student comes in  with an openness to being formed into a leader of the Church. I’ve learned that, besides the academic endeavors, community is important, a prayer life is important, worshiping is important.  Formation is the kind of thing that is hard to measure, but you know it when you know it. I am in the fortunate position to get to see the students and work with so many of them in an especially close way.” 

Her future colleagues note that the new associate dean position will be essential during a period when CDSP is completing its transition to a fully hybrid educational model. 

“Deepening the seminary’s connection to our students, and our students’ connections to each other, is a top priority as we take on new rhythms of learning, praying, and following Jesus together,” said Dr. Stephen Fowl, president and dean.  

“Dr. Jackson will be the community leader who keeps us focused on the formative activities that play a major role in the future effectiveness of Episcopal priests. As a seminary associate dean during the pandemic, she has proven that she can be successful in both online and onsite modes of working and relating.” 

Another responsibility of the new associate dean role is overseeing CDSP’s first-of-its-kind, fully funded curacy program for graduating MDiv students.  

In each student’s fourth year of the program, they will work with Jackson and their bishop (or bishop’s designee) to identify the appropriate site(s) and supervisor(s) and co-design a curacy experience during their first two years of ordained ministry in their home diocese.  

The purview of Jackson’s work will be the entire arc of students’ formation during this “4 + 2” year process. 

“That’s another thing that attracted me to this position, the ability to be creative and help continue building this new program as we learn together how it can serve students and their dioceses,” she said. 

Building bridges between students’ MDiv experience and the next phase of their church leadership will be helped by Jackson’s many churchwide relationships. In addition to cultivating the kind of wide-ranging connections formed by most long-serving seminary leaders, Jackson has been a colleague and collaborator to many on the Episcopal leadership scene.  

In 2022, she was elected to Executive Council, the body that oversees denominational administration in between General Conventions. She also served on the most recent Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop, within which she was elected chaplain by her peers. Jackson is a trustee of Kanuga (a premiere nonprofit conference, retreat, and camp center in the Episcopal Church) and a member of the Union of Black Episcopalians.  

Jackson holds a DMin in transformative leadership from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, an MDiv from Sewanee, an MBA in marketing and management from Jacksonville University, and a BA in behavioral science from Rollins College. She lives in Hixson, TN, with her husband, Jim.  

Jackson will begin her CDSP position on August 30. 

About Church Divinity School of the Pacific 

CDSP forms leaders called to find new ways to create Christian communities and share God’s love. Through our partnership with Trinity Church Wall Street and an ongoing dialog with bishops and grassroots leaders, we have focused our degree programs on Christian mission, discipleship, and evangelism and on core leadership skills of contextual awareness, critical reflection, and public conversation; refocused our core mission on our popular hybrid program for students balancing family obligations or professional responsibilities; and established partnerships that allow us to create distance learning curricula for individual dioceses.