Notes from the Interim President
March 27, 2020
Dear Beloved Community,
Since my last newsletter, the world has changed in ways that are unprecedented. We are all adjusting to a “new normal,” and that applies to everyone at ULS and beyond – students, faculty, staff, and our alums serving all over the world. The ULS COVID-19 Task Force has worked diligently over the past weeks to monitor other higher educational institutions, our sister seminaries, CDC guidelines and health professional recommendations to determine the best and safest course of action. Classes have transitioned online, spring events are cancelled, staff are working remotely (with a few essential exceptions) and buildings are closed on both campuses. Student apartments remain open.
While there won’t be a physical commencement this year, the Commencement Committee is working to provide a means for students to mark this joyous occasion to celebrate their accomplishments. We are all deeply disappointed, as nothing can replace this special tradition shared with loved ones and fellow graduates. We will have more commencement information for you soon. While this decision was incredibly difficult to make, it is our goal to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone at ULS regarding COVID-19.
I have been so impressed with, and blessed by, a community that has pulled together in this time of crisis. Our instructors had to reconfigure courses for an online platform with little notice and did so in the spirit of who we are as a seminary. Several students have commented on the level of support they’ve received during this challenging time. Ginny Banister, who took courses during intensives week, commented how “great” the class was, taught by Dean Sebastian and “how quick the school was to accommodate our needs.” She praised the IT department for ensuring “our learning experience was the best” and the library for being on call and providing crucial resources. Ginny wrote to me that she “saw a United Seminary in many ways.” I couldn’t agree more. In this time of struggle, the community of United Lutheran Seminary is truly living into its name.
Our pastoral presence, Pastors Gwen King and Terry McCarthy, have also been of tremendous comfort to students who may be struggling with fears and uncertainties. The ULS staff has also joined forces to make this difficult transition as smooth as possible, with everyone pitching in to ensure operations and student services are uninterrupted.
We still have a long road ahead. Yet I have witnessed first-hand how a global crisis has only strengthened ULS’s commitment to its mission. Even with miles between our two campuses, we are one, united seminary, joined together by shared commitment.
I’ll keep you updated on summer and fall events as it’s still too early to determine what the next several months hold. In the meantime, we should all keep those most vulnerable in our prayers and reach out to anyone who may be isolated. While we can’t comfort each other in person right now -- whether in chapel, meetings with colleagues or traditional classrooms -- there are other ways to reach out, whether on social media, Facetime, virtual platforms, or by running errands for an elderly neighbor or donating non-perishables to keep food banks well-stocked. Even a phone call to someone who may be alone and frightened can make a world of difference.
If there is something you’d like me to pray for on your behalf, please let me know at email@example.com. Please stay well and safe as I hope to see you in person soon.
Rev. Angela Zimmann, Ph.D., CFRE
United Lutheran Seminary
Gettysburg + Philadelphia
President, United Lutheran Seminary Endowment Foundation
Adjunct Professor of Homiletics
Please join me in wishing David Davies and Sheila Joy the best as they move on to other endeavors. David worked at the Seminary for 10 years as grounds and building maintenance technician. He’ll will be pursuing a landscaping and handyman business full time. Thanks for your hard work on the Gettysburg campus Dave!
Sheila Joy, who has been assistant archivist and cataloger in Gettysburg for four years, will become associate archivist at the Lutheran Archives Center, based on the Philadelphia campus. Sheila is also transitioning from ELCA Region 8 Archivist to Region 7 Archivist, which allows her to expand her experience with Lutheran Church records. We look forward to seeing Sheila in Philadelphia!