Seminary Receives Lifetime Peacemaker Award

The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg was honored in a ceremony Monday, April 24, 2017 by the Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice with its Lifetime Peacemaker Award, the first ever institution to receive the award.

ICPJ Gives Peacemaker Award to Seminary

April 25, 2017

The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg was honored in a ceremony Monday, April 24, 2017 by the Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) with its Lifetime Peacemaker Award.  As its first ever institution to receive the award, President Michael Cooper-White spoke and received the award held in Valentine Hall.   

Bill Collinge, speaking for ICPJ, commented that “Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary will be the longest-lived awardee in the history of the Lifetime of Peacemaking Award.”  Founded in 1826, the seminary will be transformed at age 191 in a consolidation with Philadelphia Lutheran Seminary to become United Lutheran Seminary.”  

President Cooper-White, wore the presidential medallion to the event, saying “I do so because on the gold chain that suspends it around my neck are printed the names and dates of service of the twelve of us who have occupied the institution’s presidential office.  It thereby represents the sweep of the entire 191 years since Gettysburg Seminary was founded right here in Gettysburg in 1826.  In each generation, among the faculty, staff, students, boards and alumni/ae of this institution, there have been exemplary peacemakers.   Some of them took great risks to be about this work in the name of the Prince of Peace, who declared shortly before his execution, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” (John 14:27) It is all those generations of peacemakers you honor in granting the Seminary this lifetime award tonight.

Collingue also noted that the Seminary’s involvement in the promotion of peace and justice extended throughout its history. In 1837 the Seminary welcomed Daniel Alexander Payne as the first African American to study in a Lutheran seminary.  During the Battle of Gettysburg, the Seminary’s main building (now the Seminary Ridge Museum) became the largest field hospital in the battle theater.  Its western portico was named the Peace Portico in 1913, when, after most venues in the area refused to lodge southerners. the Seminary welcomed veterans from both sides for the fiftieth anniversary of the battle.  Members of the Seminary community were prominent in founding the Lutheran Peace Fellowship in 1941 and took an active role in the civil rights movement and the opposition to the Vietnam War.  More recently, the Seminary has offered its grounds to the Adams Unity Coalition and other groups for “counter-rallies” to events sponsored by the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups.  In the past several years, the Seminary has offered the ICPJ space for its board meetings and Peacemaker Awards ceremonies, as well as the Let It Begin with Me programs, organized under the leadership of Seminary administrator and ICPJ board member Wendy Mizenko.

At the same ceremony, Joseph and Maria Levenstein received the ICPJ’s Peacemaker of the Year Award which is also recognized by a gift of $250 worth of books and materials suggested by the awardees and given to the Adams County Library system. 

In concluding his remarks, Cooper-White noted that “a dozen years ago, [ICPJ] gave this same award to the Seminary’s 10th president, the Rev. Dr. Herman J. Stuempfle.  It seems fitting, therefore, that I conclude my remarks in humbly accepting this award by quoting—or better said, praying—Herm’s hymn, “Bring Peace to Earth Again”: #700 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship.  “O God of mercy, hear our prayer: bring peace to earth again!”

The Center was founded in 1985 in an effort to go beyond the traditional “peace movement” and bring peace and justice concerns to a local mainstream audience in Central PA. Its achievements over the years have included Peace themed theater and symposia, peace campus, conferences and workshops, lectures and annual Heritage Festival. Speakers at Center events have included Noel Paul Stookey, Barry Commoner, Frances Moore Lappé, and Colman McCarthy, among other notable peacemakers.