United Lutheran Seminary Receives $30 Million Anonymous Gift

GETTYSBURG, Pa. (May 17, 2018) – The United Lutheran Seminary (ULS) today announced a $30 million anonymous gift given in the memory of James Franklin Kelly and Hope Eyster Kelly. The usage of this legacy gift, which is one of the largest gifts ever received by an ELCA seminary, is restricted to a new faculty chair and student scholarships beginning in 2019.

“We are deeply grateful for this generous gift and look forward to honoring the donor through our work on campus. The donor’s vision and commitment to the seminary will benefit current and future generations of educators and students,” said Bishop James Dunlop, acting president of the United Lutheran Seminary. “The seminary will utilize diligence in the planning of the faculty chair and scholarships.”

“This remarkable gift brings a wealth of positive momentum to the seminary,” said Cheryl Williams, vice chair of the ULS Board of Trustees. “Gracious donors such as this can and will make a lasting impression on the ULS community.”

Vice President of Institutional Advancement Angela K. Zimmann, said this gift will benefit ULS students for decades.

“Over the years, many people have walked alongside this wonderful family who are deeply faithful and care so much for our seminary community. This is a transformative gift for the future of the Seminary and Lutheran theological education,” Zimmann said. “Generations of students will be impacted by this legacy. United Lutheran is committed to decreasing and eliminating educational debt for its students, and this gift is a key component in realizing this endeavor.”

About the United Lutheran Seminary
With deep roots on its two campuses in Gettysburg and Philadelphia, the United Lutheran Seminary is theological education’s newest graduate and professional school. It awards seven different degrees and has more than 10,000 graduates. Learn more at www.unitedlutheranseminary.edu.

Contact:
Barry Hill
Chief Communications Officer
bhill@uls.edu

ULS Board of Trustees Selects Dr. Richard Green as Interim President

Dear United Lutheran Seminary Family and Supporters:

Dr. Richard Green - United Lutheran Seminary Interim President

On May 16, the United Lutheran Seminary (ULS) Board of Trustees unanimously approved Dr. Richard Green as the interim president of ULS. He will begin his duties on June 1st.

Dr. Green has enjoyed an accomplished career in higher education, both as a teacher and administrator. Most recently he served as interim president of Lincoln University, Pennsylvania’s oldest historically black college/university (HBCU), with a student enrollment of 2,100. He successfully guided both the main campus in rural Chester County and the school’s center-city Philadelphia campus. Prior to that, he served as interim provost at both Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota and Albany State University in Georgia.

A life-long Lutheran, Dr. Green received his undergraduate degree from Concordia College, an ELCA school in Moorhead, Minnesota. He earned his doctorate from the University of Louisville and received post-graduate degrees from North Dakota State University and Harvard Graduate School of Business.

We pray for his wisdom and strength to lead our ULS community. A search for a permanent president will begin in earnest. Dr. Green will serve as interim president at ULS until the successful conclusion of the search for a permanent president. 

“Dr. Green brings to United Lutheran Seminary a record of accomplishments in higher education that have supported transitional and transformation needs of a variety of institutions, especially in faith-based higher education communities,” said Bishop Claire Burkat, who led the interim search committee. “My leadership style is inclusive, grounded in the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and respectful of the input of all institutional constituents,” added Dr. Green. “I appreciate this opportunity to serve the church and ULS.”

Dr. Green and his wife Dr. Dorothy Green have 2 adult children and 3 grandchildren. They will relocate from Tucson, Arizona and will maintain residences on both the Gettysburg and Philadelphia campuses.

The board wishes to thank Bishop James Dunlop for his tenure as acting president during this challenging period of transition. His leadership and commitment to improving communications and transparency, as well as uniting our campuses, has laid the important groundwork that we expect to continue under Interim President Green.

The board would like to thank to extend their gratitude to search committee for their support and leadership during the process of identifying an interim president. The committee includes: 

  • Board members Bishop Claire Burkat, Dr. Tommie Robinson, Rev. Dr. Mark Kelly Tyler and Dr. James Lakso; 
  • Faculty member Dr. Quintin Robertson; 
  • Vice President of Advancement Rev. Dr. Angela Zimmann; and
  • Students Carla Cristopher-Waid and Danny Phelps.

As Bishop Dunlop returns to his duties as bishop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod, the board also wishes to thank his synod and staff for their understanding as Bishop Dunlop answered the call to help ULS when he was needed most. 

“It has been my privilege to serve as acting president of ULS,” Bishop Dunlop said. “More than ever, I am convinced that our community and its wonderful students have a bright future ahead. Working together in Christ, I believe the best days for ULS are still to come. I want to thank the members of my congregation and staff for supporting my efforts over the last few months.”

Good and Gracious God, we give thanks for your presence among us. Grant your wisdom to our newly appointed leadership that his calling to our school may further strengthen us to do your work. Help us to see the gifts of all the people who work to guide the mission and ministry of this school. Bless our students, faculty, staff, board members and alumni in their work that all may grow in your grace. We pray in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


If you have any questions or concerns, or if you would like to congratulate interim president-elect Dr. Green, you can do so via the Community Concerns page.

United Lutheran Seminary and Civil War Trust Announce Agreement to Protect Historic Seminary Ridge at Gettysburg

(Gettysburg, Pa.) – The United Lutheran Seminary today announced an agreement with the Civil War Trust to permanently preserve 18 acres of historic open space on Seminary Ridge in Gettysburg. The property, located on both sides of Seminary Ridge Road, has been a part of the Seminary since it moved to the site in 1832.

“This property is a gift from God and we are stewards of this gift. We have a deep love for the property and its unique historic and scenic character,” ULS Acting President-Bishop James Dunlop said. “For generations, these qualities have inspired thousands of seminary students as well as visitors from across our nation and around the world.”

Under the terms of the $3.5 million purchase agreement, the Trust will acquire an 11-acre portion of the United Lutheran Seminary property straddling Seminary Ridge Road and a conservation easement on 7 acres along Chambersburg Pike east of those two parcels.

“We feel, as stewards of this site for more than 180 years, that we have a sacred responsibility to see it is protected for future generations,” Bishop Dunlop said. “We believe this land needs to be preserved for the next generations of seminarians, and others, to reflect upon, learn from, and appreciate.”

In remarking on the agreement, Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer said: “We have long admired the Seminary’s commitment to protecting and maintaining Seminary Ridge. We consider it a privilege to partner with the Seminary to permanently preserve this iconic landscape.”

Conversations, about this agreement, began in 2015, and the Trust has already begun raising funds to preserve the property.

For the Gettysburg community, the ridge’s open land is a favorite gathering place during special events each year. People assemble there on Independence Day to watch the fireworks from this high ground. It has been home to the Gettysburg Brass Band Festival for 21 years. And this August, the Seminary will host the 5th annual Gettysburg Brewfest, — with craft brewers, cider makers and food trucks.

Founded in Gettysburg as the Lutheran Theological Seminary in 1826, the educational institution moved to its present site on Seminary Ridge in 1832. It is the oldest continuously operating Lutheran seminary in the nation. In July 2017, it consolidated with the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia to become the United Lutheran Seminary.

The Gettysburg Seminary’s 1832 building, named Schmucker Hall, figured prominently in the opening of the Battle of Gettysburg. Standing on high ground a half mile west of town, the campus became a focal point of the first day’s fighting — making Seminary Ridge synonymous with that action and subsequent combat on July 2 and 3, 1863. Today, the building houses the Seminary Ridge Museum.

Adjacent to Gettysburg National Military Park and the Lee’s Headquarters acreage protected by the Civil War Trust, the land that the Seminary will transfer to the Trust is of profound military significance, the bloodiest Gettysburg ground left in private hands, historians say.

The determined defense on Seminary Ridge by men from the Union’s Iron Brigade and 24th Michigan Volunteer Infantry enabled the army to regroup and hold Cemetery Hill, key to the ultimate Federal victory at Gettysburg. Hundreds of soldiers from North and South were felled on the ground to be purchased by the Trust.

“On this ground occurred the end of the beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg and the beginning of the end of the Civil War,” said Doug Douds, a retired Marine Corps colonel and Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide who teaches at the U.S. Army War College.


About the United Lutheran Seminary
With deep roots on its two campuses in Gettysburg and Philadelphia, the United Lutheran Seminary is theological education’s newest graduate and professional school. It awards seven different degrees, and has more than 10,000 graduates. Learn more at www.unitedlutheranseminary.edu.

About the Civil War Trust
The Civil War Trust is a national nonprofit land preservation organization devoted to the protection of America’s hallowed battlegrounds. It preserves the battlefields of the Civil War, the Revolutionary War and War of 1812, and educates the public about their importance in forging the nation we are today. The Trust has preserved 49,000 battlefield acres in 24 states, including more than 1,000 acres at Gettysburg. Learn more at www.civilwar.org.


If you have any questions, please contact Barry Hill, Chief Communications Officer, at bhill@uls.edu.

Ecumenical Advocacy Days

Seven students and Prof. Katie Day participated in Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C., April 20-23. The students are part of Dr. Day’s seminar on Wealth and Poverty and included: Kate Aaronson, Carlton Jacobson, Stephen Boyhont, Scott Harvey, Harold Hofstad, Justin Marx and Courtney Smith. The class has been meeting on both campuses with one site being “ZOOMed” in each week, and Dr. Day alternating between the two sites. This was the first opportunity for students from Gettysburg and Philadelphia to meet each other in person!

ULS Ecumenical Advocacy Days
Courtney Smith & Justin Marx

Ecumenical Advocacy Days has brought together concerned Christians from many denominations and from all over the country for almost twenty years. Each year there is a theme, around which there are plenaries, panels and workshops to inform participants about a particular pressing social issue. This year the theme was “A World Uprooted: Responding to Migrants, Refugees, and Displaced People.” After an intense two and a half days of education over the weekend, on Monday participants headed to Capitol Hill to meet with their legislators. The ULS contingent visited the offices of Senators Toomey and Casey of PA, as well as Representatives Meehan and Smucker of PA, Lance of NJ and Handle and John Lewis of GA. Courtney Smith summed up her day on the Hill: “Today was powerful and inspiring. To combine my love of advocacy and social justice with my faith, to lobby on Capitol Hill for immigrants everywhere, was empowering. This is one of the many ways we are called to be public witnesses of our faith while fighting for the rights of all God’s people.”

ULS Ecumenical Advocacy Days
Courtney Smith, Stephen Boyhont, & Scott Harvey

A special treat for the ULS group was at a dinner at a local tapas restaurant on Saturday evening. We were joined by Rev. Sara Lilja, the Director of Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Ministry of New Jersey. Sara is rejoining the ULS Board. The dinner was underwritten by a generous alum, Bruce Davidson, who served for many years as the head of the Lutheran Office of Advocacy in New Jersey. Both Bruce and Sara are role models and mentors for our students in their public witness.

ULS Ecumenical Advocacy Days
The whole PA delegation at Toomey’s office

Questions & Answers: March 29th

There are many questions the ULS community has related to recent events. In an effort to be open and improve communication, the board and the acting president have tried to address many of these questions and concerns in the following Q&A.

Board of Trustees

Q: Did Bishop Dunlop vote to remove former President Latini and then receive the appointment as acting president?

A: Bishop Dunlop did participate in the discussion and vote regarding former President Latini’s tenure at the seminary. Bishop Dunlop did not seek out this calling, and it had no bearing on his decision surrounding former President Latini’s service.

Q: Is Bishop Dunlop still a member of the board of trustees? If so, would that be a conflict of interest in his role as acting president?

A: Bishop Dunlop serves as an ex officio, non-voting participant of the board of trustees. He has been replaced on the board by Bishop Richard H. Graham, representing Region 8, until his time as acting president is completed. The Region 8 bishops have asked Bishop Dunlop to return to serve on the board of trustees when his time as acting president has concluded.

Q: How many board members are there currently, and what steps are being taken to replace those who have resigned?

A: With the additions of Bishop Richard Graham representing the Region 8 bishops and the Rev. Constance Mentzer representing the Lower Susquehanna Synod last week there are 14 board members. The ULS bylaws call for board members to be replaced as soon as possible and for the board to have a minimum of 14 members.

Q: What is the current composition of the board of trustees?

A: There are eight men, six women (including a member of the LGBTQIA community), two persons of color, and a member of the Episcopal Church. We are striving to strengthen diversity as board members are added. The board of trustees is not affiliated with either campus. Board members are selected from Regions 7 and 8 of the ELCA, and 20 percent are elected by the Church Council of the ELCA.

Q: There is still mistrust among some at ULS toward the remaining board members. What is being done to rebuild the trust between the board and the ULS community?

A: Bishop Dunlop will be writing a weekly letter to the ULS community discussing ULS’s efforts to identify a new president, answer questions about recent changes, and address how the board of trustees plans to include members the ULS community into the decision-making process moving forward. At the same time, Bishop Dunlop is happy to engage any and all of the members of the community to help build trust.
Additionally, the board of trustees will include board development on its agenda for its next regular meeting in May, discussing and learning about topics potentially including how better to stay in touch with constituencies, board governance, diversity training and others.

Q: What steps is the board taking to identity an interim president?

A: Conversations around the process for identifying an interim president have begun among Bishop Dunlop, and board members Dr. Tommie L. Robinson, Jr. and Bishop Claire Burkat. Many candidates, including volunteers, have emerged.

ULS Community

Q: At the original campus meeting to discuss the turmoil over former President Latini’s background and the failure of the board to disclose it, Bishop Dunlop urged members of the ULS community to adopt a spirit of generosity, citing the eighth commandment’s directive that people of God view their neighbors in a favorable light. How is that not an attempt to silence criticism?

A: Bishop Dunlop’s commentary on the eighth commandment was to encourage the community to think about how we spoke about former President Latini and one another during this conflicted time. The eighth commandment does not tell us to silence dissent or calls for justice; it dictates we speak well of our neighbor and present them in the best possible light. In this time of heightened conflict, it can guide us toward civil discourse and away from finger pointing and recrimination.

Q: The tumultuous events surrounding former President Latini’s tenure have diverted much time and attention away from the central mission of ULS, teaching, learning and preparation of seminary students to enter the ministry. What steps is the board and ULS administration taking to refocus ULS on these core objectives?

A: The Bishop and the board of trustees are committed to creating an atmosphere where students can thrive both academically and spiritually. This, of necessity, means the ULS administration and board will increase their efforts to hear all ULS voices and will consider them in decision making. They have vowed to take a even stronger leadership role while making the necessary changes to secure the long-term interests of the ULS community. To help the community heal, the Board has approved the Administration’s requests for the funding of pastoral and behavioral health services and the hiring of a specialist in communal trauma to assist with healing, justice and reconciliation.

Diversity

Q: During the debate over former President Latini, students of color voiced unease and concern about incidents of racism at ULS. How has Bishop Dunlop responded?

A: In a session with the board, African American students said they had been subjected to instances of racism on the campuses of ULS and felt that their concerns had been largely ignored by past administrations. Diversity is one of the highest priorities for the acting president and board. Bishop Dunlop and board member Dr. Tommie L. Robinson, Jr. have met with African-American students to examine the issue of racism. These conversations are ongoing. The Bishop and the board take these concerns seriously and are committed to creating an inclusive learning atmosphere on campus for all students.

Communications

Q: What is the role of the outside communications firm?

A: La Torre Communications was hired to provide additional support and counsel and to enhance communications during this period of transition.

Q: What is the ULS policy on media inquiries?

A: All institutional media inquiries should be forwarded to the communications office, which at ULS is led by Barry Hill, Chief Communications Officer.


As of March 29, 2018: The board and acting president understand there are more questions and concerns to address. They are working to answer them and will update this Q&A periodically.


If you have questions or concerns that remain unanswered you can always submit those on the ULS Community Concerns page.

Statement from ULS Faculty

We write this statement to the whole community to share our commitment as a faculty to continue to work together to strengthen the integrity and trustworthiness of our seminary, and to heal the wounds caused by and reopened in the recent crisis of leadership.

We write as faculty who represent, in some ways, the diversity of the ULS that we believe in. We are Lutherans and we come from diverse denominations. We are black and white, gay and straight, U.S. born and immigrants. We are Gettysburg and Philadelphia, resident, commuters, and distributed. We are a body that still mourns some of what we lost in the merger. And yet as a faculty we also share a strong commitment to unity, along with our similarly diverse staff, student body, alumni/ae, and partner congregations and agencies. We thank those many constituents who voiced their reasoned and passionate opinions to the Seminary leadership over these past three weeks, as did we as individuals and as a collective. We are a people united in our commitment to Christ.

We lament that our President did not fully disclose her employment history prior to taking her call, and we lament that our Administration repeatedly kept this damaging secret. These actions did not model the public theology that we seek to teach and learn. We are profoundly saddened for those whose previous traumas, often from oppressions based upon race and/or sexual orientation and/or gender identity, have been triggered by these events. We are profoundly saddened that our LGBTQIA community was wounded by these actions and we repudiate conversion therapy in all its facets. We are profoundly saddened that this crisis has in some way marginalized the ongoing concerns raised by non-Lutheran and/or African American students as to how committed to diversity we truly are. We are profoundly saddened that the sense of community and reputation of our fledgling institution has been damaged. However, we are also profoundly moved: by the ways we have seen students care for each other across constituencies; by the ways we have seen staff members serve faithfully in their duties despite unexpected changes; by the ways we have seen alumni/ae and partner congregations and agencies reach out with care and commitment. We faculty renew our resolve to our common vocation to educate and to prepare transformative public leaders to serve faith communities and institutions guided by God’s justice and love.

We will continue to pray for students, staff, alumni/ae, friends, partners, the ongoing Board, the Rev. Dr. Latini, and those Board members who resigned. We pray for Christ’s presence, peace, truth, and mercy for all in the months ahead. And we look with hope, through this season of Lent, Holy Week, and the Resurrection of our Lord, to a clearer fulfillment of God’s beloved community among us.

Evan Boyd
Wayne Croft
Katie Day
Maria Erling
Vincent Evener
Mark Vitalis Hoffman
John Hoffmeyer
Michael Krentz
Kristin Johnston Largen
Charles Leonard
Mark Oldenburg
Jon Pahl
Paul Rajashekar
Quintin Robertson
Brooks Schramm
Jayakiran Sebastian
Storm Swain
Gil Waldkoenig
Karyn L. Wiseman

Community Gathering Summary – Philadelphia & Gettysburg

Summary – Philadelphia Campus

Tuesday, February 27, 2018—11:00 am
Benbow B

Dean Kiran Sebastian opened with prayer, called the meeting to order, and shared expectations for the conversation. He introduced the speakers: Charles Miller, Chair of Presidential Search Committee; Rev. Dr. J. Elise Brown, Board Chair of United Lutheran Seminary; Bishop Claire Burkat (SEPA Bishop and Board of Trustees member); and Reverend Dr. Theresa Latini, President of United Lutheran Seminary.

Charles Miller

Charles Miller began by explaining the search committee process and described the group was comprised of students, staff, faculty, synodical bishops, and board members from the predecessor schools. Miller stated that the committee discussed a number of LGBTQ-related questions with candidates in the course of its interviews. In the committee’s debriefings after the two interviews with Dr. Latini, the committee expressed enthusiasm for her responses and heard no concern or reservation from committee members about Dr. Latini’s convictions on LGBTQ matters.

Miller acknowledged that, on his watch, the committee did not look far enough into Dr. Latini’s background to identify her connection to One by One. Miller further acknowledged that the committee did not end the interview with the customary question about any past personal actions or engagements of the candidate that may have had potential to embarrass the seminary.

Miller also explained that the committee, on the basis of Dr. Latini’s initial letter of interest, her resume, references from five stellar colleagues and associates, and her extensive outstanding response to our many questions, enthusiastically recommended Dr. Latini to the Board of Trustees to be the President of United Lutheran Seminary.

Rev. Dr. Elise Brown, Board Chair

Elise Brown explained that after the search committee did its work, Dr. Latini called to talk to her about her past affiliation with One by One. Brown explained the due diligence taken in relation to Dr. Latini’s candidacy: two levels of background checks; inquiry into her work with One by One; conversation with colleagues in the ELCA, including LGBTQ+ colleagues. There were no concerns raised about Dr. Latini.

She reached out to Dr. Marvin Ellison (a long-time leader in the More Light Network in the PCUSA; an expert in Queer Theology; and seminary professor). She asked him to research Dr. Latini and One by One. He did not know Dr. Latini and hadn’t heard of the organization. Dr. Ellison reached out to an additional six individuals in the More Light Movement. None of them knew the work of One by One and those who knew of Dr. Latini spoke highly of her. Brown also asked the search committee chair, Charles Miller, about Dr. Latini’s answers during the search process and asked if she was supportive and inclusive of ULS as an RIC seminary. The answer was “yes.”

Brown stated that she heard from two staff and one faculty member concerns about Dr. Latini’s prior association with One by One. This was brought to the full board on a call in late December. Brown acknowledged she should have brought this information to the board sooner, saying, “I am deeply sorry for the pain this has caused.”

Bishop Claire Burkat

Bishop Burkat acknowledged the pain of everyone in the room, in particular, members of the LGBTQ community. She continued by saying, “I am so sorry for my part in this and the pain it has caused anyone.” In her words: “When we talked about [Dr. Latin’s] involvement in One by One in a December 29 board call, I thought it was a great transformative story. It’s how I took it. I did not think it was my story to share—but I realize now it was not mine to keep.” She again acknowledged the pain in the room.

President Theresa Latini

Dr. Latini began by acknowledging her statement posted on website about her prior work as director of an organization in the Presbyterian Church (USA), called One by One. The mission of that organization was “to educate and equip the church to minister the transforming grace and power of Christ to those in conflict with their sexuality.” Latini explained she was the director of that organization for approximately 5.5 years, beginning in 1996. In that role, she presented a view of sexuality that was marginalizing and hurtful to members of the LGBTQ+ community.

As director of One by One, Latini said that she believed and taught that sexual orientation could be changed for some people, if not many. She apologized, acknowledged that this belief was wrong, and said, “I do not believe that one’s orientation can change. I do not believe that anyone should try to change their sexual orientation.”

Dr. Latini explained that she was not a reparative therapist. She did not lead ex-gay support groups or counsel teenagers to stop being gay or lesbian. She acknowledged that she presented basic ideas of a reparative therapist, Elizabeth Moberly, and believed this path was a valid option for those LGBTQ+ persons who wanted to live in chastity in singleness or fidelity in marriage between a man and woman, the Presbyterian standard at that time. She stated, “I completely reject reparative therapy, and renounce it. “

Latini described that One by One was one of a cluster of Evangelical organizations operating in the PCUSA at that time. People connected with those organizations included seminary presidents, professors, pastors, and other church leaders. Latini stated that it was a very different context and that “the power imbalance between me and that whole system was staggering.” Latini further explained she became the director of One by One while finishing her undergraduate degree and attending a conservative Presbyterian church with an ex-gay support group.

Latini then shared that, over time, her understanding of human sexuality changed profoundly. She cited a number of sources of her evolution:

  • Learning from theologians and church leaders with an inclusive sexual ethic
  • Meeting LGBTQ+ Christians in the Presbyterian Church who celebrated their sexuality
  • Seminary friends who were LGBTQ+. She said, “They celebrated their sexuality as a gift of God and I couldn’t deny their gifts for ministry or their rights to love whom they loved and to marry whom they wanted to marry.”
  • Nonviolent Communication trainings. “Time within this community was the tipping point,” she said. “I was no longer the director of One by One, which meant I was no longer the poster child for the right or the villain for the left.”

Latini explained that one of the questions she has lived with for a long time is related to confession and repentance. She mentioned the actions she took to make amends:

  • She asked that all writings on the One by One website be removed and that anything in written form never be distributed in any form again. They didn’t represent her beliefs and she didn’t want them to be used to marginalize LGBTQ+ people in the church.
  • She apologized to LGBTQ+ people with whom she was connected relationally especially LGBTQ+ leaders who were fighting for their rights to ordination and marriage.
  • She began teaching Nonviolent Communication in seminaries and churches and led restorative circles for people bitterly divided over sexuality debates.
  • She supported the first openly gay student in another theological school to come out to his classmates in one of her courses.
  • As an associate dean of diversity and cultural competency, she tried to advocate for equitable policies for LGBTQ+ students and expanded diversity work to include LGBTQ+ persons.
  • She was a pastor at an open and affirming PCUSA congregation with LGBTQ+ members and ordained leaders and participated in an ordination service for a member of the LGBTQ+ community who had been denied ordination for decades.

Latini stated that her CV focused on work completed since her ordination. She said that she told people about One by One at each organization she has worked in case questions arose. “Those who have known about my work with One by One have included administrators and faculty colleagues at both of my previous institutions; PCUSA pastors; and some of the references listed on my CV.” She stated that she did not bring it up in the presidential search committee but that she shared it with the board chair. She apologized, “I am sorry for the significant pain this has caused.”

Summary – Gettysburg Campus

Tuesday, February 27, 2018—5:30 pm
Valentine Hall Auditorium

Bishop Jim Dunlop opened with prayer, called the meeting to order, and shared expectations for the conversation. He introduced the speakers: Charles Miller, Chair of Presidential Search Committee; Rev. Dr. J. Elise Brown, Board Chair of United Lutheran Seminary; Bishop Jim Dunlop—Lower Susquehanna Synod (Bishop and Board of Trustees member); and Reverend Dr. Theresa Latini, President of United Lutheran Seminary.

Charles Miller

Charles Miller began by explaining the search committee process and described the group was comprised of students, staff, faculty, synodical bishops, and board members from the predecessor schools. Miller stated that the committee discussed a number of LGBTQ-related questions with candidates in the course of its interviews. In the committee’s debriefings after the two interviews with Dr. Latini, the committee expressed enthusiasm for her responses and heard no concern or reservation from committee members about Dr. Latini’s convictions on LGBTQ matters.

Miller acknowledged that, on his watch, the committee did not look far enough into Dr. Latini’s background to identify her connection to One by One. Miller further acknowledged that the committee did not end the interview with the customary question about any past personal actions or engagements of the candidate that may have had potential to embarrass the seminary.

Miller also explained that the committee, on the basis of Dr. Latini’s initial letter of interest, her resume, references from five stellar colleagues and associates, and her extensive outstanding response to our many questions, enthusiastically recommended Dr. Latini to the Board of Trustees to be the President of United Lutheran Seminary.

Rev. Dr. Elise Brown, Board Chair

Elise Brown explained that after the search committee did its work, Dr. Latini called to talk to her about her past affiliation with One by One. Brown explained the due diligence taken in relation to Dr. Latini’s candidacy: two levels of background checks; inquiry into her work with One by One; conversation with colleagues in the ELCA, including LGBTQ+ colleagues. There were no concerns raised about Dr. Latini.

She reached out to Dr. Marvin Ellison (a long-time leader in the More Light Network in the PCUSA; an expert in Queer Theology; and seminary professor). She asked him to research Dr. Latini and One by One. He did not know Dr. Latini and hadn’t heard of the organization. Dr. Ellison reached out to an additional six individuals in the More Light Movement. None of them knew the work of One by One and those who knew of Dr. Latini spoke highly of her. Brown also asked the search committee chair, Charles Miller, about Dr. Latini’s answers during the search process and asked if she was supportive and inclusive of ULS as an RIC seminary. The answer was “yes.”

Brown stated that she heard from two staff and one faculty member concerns about Dr. Latini’s prior association with One by One. This was brought to the full board on a call in late December. Brown acknowledged she should have brought this information to the board sooner, saying, “I am deeply sorry for the pain this has caused.”

Bishop Jim Dunlop

Bishop Dunlop acknowledged the pain of everyone in the room—in particular, members of the LGBTQ community. Stated that he spoke Elisabeth Peter about the reactions on campus around “Specifically, what did the Board know? “

He explained “On December 20 a member of the LSS Synod spoke to his pastor about the link. Immediately called the Board Chair which prompted board meeting 12/29.” He was assured there was a communication plan in order to disseminate info to wider audience through a website. Communication went out 2/14 to a very poor reaction. He went on to state, “We didn’t realize; We thought this was old history. I am deeply sorry. I thought it was a story of incredible transformation and grace. We were wrong about a lot of things. That is why we pulled these meetings together as quickly as possible. “

President Theresa Latini

Dr. Latini began by acknowledging her statement posted on website about her prior work as director of an organization in the Presbyterian Church (USA), called One by One. The mission of that organization was “to educate and equip the church to minister the transforming grace and power of Christ to those in conflict with their sexuality.” Latini explained she was the director of that organization for approximately 5.5 years, beginning in 1996. In that role, she presented a view of sexuality that was marginalizing and hurtful to members of the LGBTQ+ community.

As director of One by One, Latini said that she believed and taught that sexual orientation could be changed for some people, if not many. She apologized, acknowledged that this belief was wrong, and said, “I do not believe that one’s orientation can change. I do not believe that anyone should try to change their sexual orientation.”

Dr. Latini explained that she was not a reparative therapist. She did not lead ex-gay support groups or counsel teenagers to stop being gay or lesbian. She acknowledged that she presented basic ideas of a reparative therapist, Elizabeth Moberly, and believed this path was a valid option for those LGBTQ+ persons who wanted to live in chastity in singleness or fidelity in marriage between a man and woman, the Presbyterian standard at that time. She stated, “I completely reject reparative therapy, and renounce it. “

Latini described that One by One was one of a cluster of Evangelical organizations operating in the PCUSA at that time. People connected with those organizations included seminary presidents, professors, pastors, and other church leaders. Latini stated that it was a very different context and that “the power imbalance between me and that whole system was staggering.” Latini further explained she became the director of One by One while finishing her undergraduate degree and attending a conservative Presbyterian church with an ex-gay support group.

Latini then shared that, over time, her understanding of human sexuality changed profoundly. She cited a number of sources of her evolution:

  • Learning from theologians and church leaders with an inclusive sexual ethic
  • Meeting LGBTQ+ Christians in the Presbyterian Church who celebrated their sexuality
  • Seminary friends who were LGBTQ+. She said, “They celebrated their sexuality as a gift of God and I couldn’t deny their gifts for ministry or their rights to love whom they loved and to marry whom they wanted to marry.”
  • Nonviolent Communication trainings. “Time within this community was the tipping point,” she said. “I was no longer the director of One by One, which meant I was no longer the poster child for the right or the villain for the left.”

Latini explained that one of the questions she has lived with for a long time is related to confession and repentance. She mentioned the actions she took to make amends:

  • She asked that all writings on the One by One website be removed and that anything in written form never be distributed in any form again. They didn’t represent her beliefs and she didn’t want them to be used to marginalize LGBTQ+ people in the church.
  • She apologized to LGBTQ+ people with whom she was connected relationally especially LGBTQ+ leaders who were fighting for their rights to ordination and marriage.
  • She began teaching Nonviolent Communication in seminaries and churches and led restorative circles for people bitterly divided over sexuality debates.
  • She supported the first openly gay student in another theological school to come out to his classmates in one of her courses.
  • As an associate dean of diversity and cultural competency, she tried to advocate for equitable policies for LGBTQ+ students and expanded diversity work to include LGBTQ+ persons.
  • She was a pastor at an open and affirming PCUSA congregation with LGBTQ+ members and ordained leaders and participated in an ordination service for a member of the LGBTQ+ community who had been denied ordination for decades.

Latini stated that her CV focused on work completed since her ordination. She said that she told people about One by One at each organization she has worked in case questions arose. “Those who have known about my work with One by One have included administrators and faculty colleagues at both of my previous institutions; PCUSA pastors; and some of the references listed on my CV.” She stated that she did not bring it up in the presidential search committee but that she shared it with the board chair. She apologized, “I am sorry for the significant pain this has caused.”


If you would like another account of the Gettysburg Campus Community gathering, I recommend you check out Pastor Victoria Larson’s (LTSG-Class of 2014) highly credible account of the Gettysburg Community Gathering. Pastor Larson has been gracious enough to work with us to make sure the most accurate and transparent account of what was spoken at the community gathering is represented. Pastor Larson’s account also includes the question and answer time and has given up her time to make sure the Q & A section is fairly represented. Thank You, Pastor Larson.

We would also like to remind you that there is a form for you to express your questions, concerns, or comments on the community concerns page.

ULS Bookstore at Gettysburg Closing February 28th

United Lutheran Seminary Bookstore & Gift Shop, located at 61 Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg, PA 17325, will be closing permanently February 28th, 2018.

All items in the store are discounted at 70% off until February 28th.

Stop by and take a look at some of our items:

  • Religious & Theological Books
  • Gifts, Greeting Cards
  • Legacy
  • Willow Tree items
  • Enesco gifts

Bookstore Hours
9:30 AM – Noon
1 – 4 PM

Bookstore Location
Valentine Hall
61 Seminary Ridge
Gettysburg, PA 17325

Contact: Sherry Rippman
717-338-3005
srippman@uls.edu

ULS Bookstore

ULS Bookstore

ULS Bookstore

ULS Bookstore

Reason #1: A Hope-Filled New Beginning

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Top 5 Reasons

To Support ULS for Your Year-End Giving

This post is part of our end-of-year series, in which 5 ULS staff members and students share reasons they support ULS in their year-end giving. We appreciate your support!

Make a Tax-Deductible Gift to ULS

Reason #1: A Hope-Filled New Beginning

From Angela Zimmann, VP of Advancement

This year has been witness to some of the most fractious and galvanizing public conversation in a generation. Even simple cultural events like the playing of the national anthem at football games have been politicized and folks are dragged into making public stands where there were previously none.

At a time like this, I have been part of a hope-filled new beginning born out of a conflict that lasted over 150 years: United Lutheran Seminary. What does this say about the future of theological education in the Northeastern United States? It says that we recognize that people are more important than archaic doctrinal differences, that the mission of God’s kingdom is our core commonality, and that the rich traditions we carry forward are for the purpose of building bridges and not creating barriers.

ULS staff - Angela Zimmann

I fervently pray for the future of not only our nation, but our relationships within the cradle of humanity itself. United Lutheran Seminary is working to equip the saints for the work of ministry at a time when God’s message of grace and hope are needed more than ever. Thank you for your prayers and support of this mission. Thank you for being part of God’s redeeming work in the world.

Angela Zimmann
VP of Advancement
United Lutheran Seminary

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