Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Southern Seminary Shows Integrity

Shrimp here. Just when you're wondering if there's any hope left for the seminaries of the ELCA, the administration of one of them does something right, meet, and salutary (or, for you ELW aficianados, right, our duty and our joy). Praises go to the Rev. Dr. Marcus Miller, President at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary and Southern's Dean, Dr. Michael Root. Now for the story.

The Fine Arts and Lecture Series at Newberry College (a college of the ELCA in Newberry, South Carolina) had as its presenter two weeks ago the Rev. Katrina Foster, pastor at Fordham Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Bronx, New York. While at Newberry Pastor Foster would, in addition to her public lectures, also teach in some classes and preach at the College Chapel's Wednesday morning services. Veteran Shellfish readers may recall Katrina Foster from this post here from last November. Her lectures were titled "The Church and Human Sexuality" and "The Church and Social Justice: Working in the Community."

Fine Arts and Lecture events are, it seems, a pretty important deal at Newberry, as "all enrolled degree-seeking students must attend an average of three events per semester from the 'Fine Arts and Lectures' series in order to qualify for graduation." Guidelines for presenting FAL events include the admonition, "Discuss Newberry College Mission statement and that we are a church-related college and have certain expectations" prior to submitting a proposal.

What does that have to do with Southern Seminary? Well, Newberry and Southern are near to each other, and it is not unusual for guests of Newberry College, especially when they are ELCA pastors who are graduates from Southern Seminary, to be invited to visit the alma mater and, as our colleagues at Lutheran (True) Confessions describe it, "stay on campus, eat with students and faculty, sit in on classes, meet and talk with students and preach at the seminary's Friday chapel worship." So, Professors Tony Everett (Pastoral Care) and Robert Hawkins (Worship and Music, and Dean of the Chapel) extended the customary invitation.

By the time Foster arrived on Southern's campus Thursday morning, the invitation to preach on Friday had been rescinded by President Miller. Reports are that, when she met with Dean Root that evening, he told her that, since being in a committed lesbian relationship she is in public non-compliance with the ELCA's Vision and Expectations for rostered leaders and thus would not able to be a candidate for ordination at the seminary, neither would she be permitted to preach in its chapel. And by Foster's Friday morning meeting with President Miller, he was reportedly frustrated by the numerous e-mails and phone calls he had received over the last day protesting Foster's disinvitation.

We at Shellfish (who wish we could be surprised to learn that Newberry isn't Mayberry) think appreciative messages to Drs. Miller and Root would be a better thing.

Shrimp out.

1 comment:

Clam said...

So perhaps it IS true that there are still two ELCA seminaries where one can get a confessional education if one seeks it out.

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...