Beloved friends of ULS:
As millions of Americans and people around the world are speaking out during the ongoing crisis of systemic racism in our country,we too are called by virtue of the Gospel to speak truth to power in the wake of Mr. George Floyd’s murder. I would like to share an excerpt from the United Lutheran Seminary Welcome and Equity Statement: “Moreover, society, the church,and other institutions marginalize and discriminate against persons of color.Therefore, we are called to action and to concretely show our support,inclusion, caring, solidarity, and concern. It is for this purpose that we affirm that people of all racial and ethnic groups are of sacred worth as unique and genuine individuals created by God and are full participants,beloved members of our community.” I pray you will see these words as prescriptive for your life and ministry as well.
My esteemed colleague in ministry, the Rev. Regina Goodrich, attended the Urban Theological Institute at LTSP and was ordained in 2008. She currently serves Mediator Lutheran Church in Philadelphia. This past Sunday, my family viewed her Pentecost sermon, where she asked the Lord for guidance – “Help us to be open to your help and receive it through the power of the Holy Spirit, that we are endowed with the power to be change agents.”
In her inspired wisdom, Rev. Goodrich reminds us to stay focused.We can speak truth to power, demand reform and change with elected officials and police commissioners. At ULS, we mandate cultural sensitivity training for faculty and staff and require anti-racism training for students. ULS Human Resources will also be providing anti-bias training in the upcoming school year. The ULS Diversity Task Force will continue to work toward equitable inclusion for students of color, those who identify as LGBTQIA+, and other marginalized communities. Our goal at ULS is that these difficult and often painful conversations will heal wounds, open eyes and move us all forward on the path to a better understanding of God’s inclusive and equitable love.
Rev. Goodrich said on Sunday, “If a spiritual awakening occurs, we may start to live a life different from our previous experience. In our times of struggle, it is important to remember that God can and will eventually either change our circumstances or our perspective. The Holy Spirit has already given us the ability to overcome anything.”
Thank you, Pastor Goodrich,for allowing me to share excerpts from your sermon and for reminding us to remain focused on how we can bring about change through the strength we find in God, and in each other. You remind me and all of us that we are in this not for the moment, but for the long haul. We kneel in solidarity, with prayers of repentance and cries of outrage and lamentation; we pledge to work toward peace with justice and reparations.
Pastor Angela Zimmann, PhD,CFRE
Interim President, UnitedLutheran Seminary