Seminary Issues Statement on Immigration

Gettysburg Seminary: "In these times, when anti-immigrant, racist, and anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiments, hate speech and violent acts have been unleashed in many quarters, we reiterate our commitment to hospitality and welcome for all people of good will. We stand in solidarity with our Jewish sisters and brothers, and decry recent acts of desecration and threats of violence against them."

A Statement of Pastoral Support and Solidarity

March 3, 2017

March 3, 2017 (Gettysburg, Penn.)  Gettysburg Seminary announced it stands with immigrants and against acts of hatred in a statement of solidarity released Friday, March 3, 2017. Speaking for the Seminary, President Michael Cooper-White and Dean Kristin Largen express support at a time when anti-immigrant, racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim speech and acts have been unleashed in many quarters. “We reiterate our commitment to hospitality and welcome for all people of good will. We stand in solidarity with our Jewish sisters and brothers, and decry recent acts of desecration and threats of violence against them." The full text of the 500 word statement follows:

 

A Statement of Pastoral Support and Solidarity

Since its founding nearly two centuries ago, Gettysburg Seminary has been a place of welcome for all who come to our campus.  When he was no longer welcome in his southern home state simply because of his race, Daniel Alexander Payne came to study on Seminary Ridge; he was the first African American to do so in a Lutheran school.  The Seminary’s founder, Samuel Simon Schmucker, welcomed Payne with open arms.  Schmucker was also widely rumored to have housed former slaves fleeing pursuit by their masters in his premises on the Seminary campus. 

Firmly grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition, wherein the Bible exhorts us to welcome and show “hospitality to strangers,” the Seminary has always sought to do just that.  Throughout our history, we have welcomed students from around the world.  During eras when campus housing was not full to capacity, we have been able to offer transitional residence to refugee families sponsored by local churches. In recent years, we have offered our campus as a gathering place for persons and groups committed to end gun violence, stand against racism and bigotry, and join in prayers for peace.

With many clergy members of our faculty and staff, we offer ourselves to the broader community as a resource for spiritual care and moral guidance. Those who now live in fear because of their immigration status, or for other reasons feel themselves pursued or even persecuted, can receive from us confidential pastoral support. We welcome to our campus groups that rally to support those who feel themselves at risk in the present climate. 

In these times, when anti-immigrant, racist, and anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiments, hate speech and violent acts have been unleashed in many quarters, we reiterate our commitment to hospitality and welcome for all people of good will.  We stand in solidarity with our Jewish sisters and brothers, and decry recent acts of desecration and threats of violence against them. So do we stand in solidarity with those of Islamic and other faith traditions who are often deemed suspect simply because of their beliefs. 

Many members of our Seminary community are joining with other local citizens in calling upon law enforcement officials to respond with compassion, and to avoid harsh treatment of law-abiding persons held to be suspect purely on the basis of their ethnicity, religious convictions, appearance or occupations. We as dean and president, together with others in the Seminary community, urge our local officials to consider seriously petitions to declare the borough of Gettysburg a place of “sanctuary.” 

We are grateful for the many in our community and more broadly who support the Seminary and our mission of preparing leaders for the church and the world. And now, more than ever, we seek to be good citizens who gratefully share with others the gifts of hospitality and compassionate solidarity.

 

The Rev. Kristin Johnston Largen, Ph.D., Dean of the Seminary

The Rev. Michael Cooper-White, D.D., President