Pain and unimaginable suffering continue to be present in our world as a result of systemic racism, and these days it is being made more visible than ever before. In times such as this, we are called to listen, speak, respond, and act. How each of us does that will look and feel different. Wartburg’s administrative leadership has created a statement to speak to how Wartburg’s mission shapes our response.
A Call to Repent and Respond
On behalf of Wartburg Theological Seminary by the Interim President and Administrative Cabinet
The church is called to repent and respond at this historic moment. Wartburg Theological Seminary serves Christ’s church through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) by being a worship-centered community of critical theological reflection where learning leads to mission and mission informs learning. The community embodies God’s mission by stewarding resources for engaging, equipping, and sending collaborative leaders who interpret, proclaim, and live the gospel of Jesus Christ for a world created for communion with God and in need of personal and social healing. The needs of the world for “personal and social healing” have never been more acute than during the crisis of global pandemic and under the imperative to end systemic racism.
We affirm the claims of the Social Statement of the ELCA, Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture:
- We expect our leadership to name the sin of racism and lead us in our repentance of it. Although racism affects each one of us differently, we must take responsibility for our participation, acknowledge our complicity, repent of our sin, and pray God will bring us to reconciliation.
- We expect our leadership to persevere in their challenge to us to be in mission and ministry in a multicultural society.
In the words of Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton: “…all of us must come together on the basis of our church’s commitments to condemn racism against indigenous people and people of color, white supremacy, sexism, and anti-Semitism whenever they occur. Whether our churches and communities are racially diverse or predominantly white, our work for racial and economic justice for all people is work for all of us. We are church together.”
As a community of critical theological reflection, we seek to analyze and repent the many ways we, individually and institutionally, are enmeshed in systemic racism. We repent of racism as America’s original sin and are committed as an institution to an intentional process of transformation related to “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” This includes, as a starting point, an intentional process of ongoing antiracism training for all faculty, staff, board members, trustees, and students as part of our strategic plan. Our identity as a worship centered community convicts us never to be satisfied with who we are, beseeching the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ to transform us into God’s beloved community.
With our vocation as a teaching community where learning leads to mission and mission informs learning, we recommend the following resources for study, discussion, and active engagement. In the words of St. Paul: “I appeal to you therefore, siblings, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
- Race, Ethnicity, and Culture (ELCA Social Statement)
- Pastoral Message from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton on COVID-19, Racism, and White Supremacy
- Explanation of the Declaration of the ELCA to People of African Descent
- Condemnation of White Supremacy and Racist Rhetoric (ELCA Social Policy Resolution)
- Additional curated resources available upon request from the Reu Memorial Library by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our work is not done. It has just begun.
Kristine Stache, Interim President
Amy Current, Vice President for Admissions and Student Services
Paul Erbes, Vice President for Development
Craig L. Nessan, Academic Dean
Andy Willenborg, Vice President for Finance and Operations