ULS President’s Newsletter | Summer Term 2018-19
Volume I, Issue 9
John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
This Summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to work alongside two incredible groups (Diversity Task Force and the Diversity Committee of the ULS Board of Trustees) with one shared purpose — conversations and work dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Diversity Task Force is a presidential appointed task force and is comprised of ULS staff, students, faculty members, and administrators. The goal of this task force is to ensure that ULS is an environment that respects and values individual difference along varying dimensions. The Diversity Committee of the Board of Trustees is a board-appointed body that works at a similar goal– but from a perspective of board governance.
Scholars, educators, and non-profit service providers use the words diversity, equity, and inclusion as they strive to become more diverse, yet many leaders are uncertain about the steps needed to turn dialogue – and intention – into action. Our two ULS committees convened jointly in July to identify and address some such action items for the upcoming semester. One of these actions is the creation of a multi-dimensional and inclusive process to create a welcome and equity statement for United Lutheran Seminary.
Through a series of town halls, the ULS community will come together to discuss, discern, and finalize a statement that welcomes all individuals and recognizes systemic inequities (which could and very often lead to disadvantages for certain people).
After the conversation and work at these town halls, the statement will be posted on our website with a link for community feedback. A final document, one that has received feedback from all constituencies across ULS (students, faculty, staff, alumni, board, etc), will be prominently displayed as a message and a reminder that God loves all of us!
Additionally, we will use the finalized statement as part of the process to receive the “Reconciling in Christ” designation from Reconciling Works. The Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Program is for congregations, synods, colleges, seminaries, and other Lutheran organizations that publicly welcome everyone from the LGBTQIA+ communities and other diverse communities. To quote from a recently published welcome statement from a newly recognized RIC community (University of Louisville – one of my alma maters): “God’s love, poured out in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is for absolutely everyone.” Their statement—much like the one we will be creating as a community here at ULS—is purposely inclusive of everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and physical, mental, and intellectual gifts and challenges.
I certainly hope that each of you will participate in this extremely important process. If we invest the time and the courage to make progress on creating an inclusive environment, our community will reap the divine rewards for generations to come.
Dear Lord our God, we ask your divine guidance as we strive to live out our mission and vision and as we seek, in word and deed, by our statements and actions, to create an environment that all will feel welcome, heard and safe. We have not been without sin in or daily tolls, thus, we welcome and expect be held accountable for any past and future discretions as we seek to create a more inclusive environment at ULS.
Significant Events and Updates
- Attended several classes on both campuses.
- Had lunch with the Board Chair of the LTSP Reconstituted Board, Pete Knudson.
- Chatted with the ULS Board Chair about the upcoming BOT meeting.
- Participated in a planning meeting for the upcoming Welcome and Equity Statement Town Hall events.
- Welcomed the Region 8 Candidacy Committee during their meeting on the Gettysburg campus.
- Met with a potential donor who is interested in assisting with funding necessary to continue moving toward a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable ULS Community.
- Had a wonderful chat visit with the President of Gettysburg College, Dr. Janet Riggs.
- Dorothy and I toured the YWCA of Adams County; what an incredible mission and facility which provides special features and wellness opportunities for the Seminary community.