Prayers Requested For United Lutheran Seminary

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St. Peter’s rostered leadership requests your prayers for our United Lutheran Seminary (formerly Gettysburg Seminary and Philadelphia Seminary) community.

In the month of February, a leadership conflict arose around the seminary president, the Rev. Dr. Theresa Latini, and her past involvement more than fifteen years ago as the executive director of a Presbyterian Church organization called OneByOne. This organization encouraged gay persons to change their identity or resist same-gendered relationships.  Dr. Latini’s past connection with this OneByOne organization was not revealed to the Board of Trustees as part of the call process for President Latini, but has come to light in recent months.  In more recent years, Dr. Latini has been a strong supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community and has renounced the reparative/conversion therapy OneByOne practiced.  Dr. Latini’s involvement in OneByOne predated the ELCA’s 2009 decision to fully endorse candidates and pastors in “committed, accountable same-gender relationships.”

This situation raised questions and concerns about the viability of the current seminary leadership.  United Lutheran Seminary (ULS) is a Reconciling in Christ seminary which embraces full support for LGBTQIA+ individuals in seminary education and in rostered ministry.

Board of Trustees Responds

During the early days of the month of March, the United Lutheran Seminary Board of Trustees gathered to hear the concerns about Dr. Theresa Latini’s past work and concerns over communication and transparency within the seminary community. During this time the board underwent a series of listening sessions with various seminary community groups including staff, alumni, current students, and voices from the LGBTQIA+ community.

On March 14 the United Lutheran Seminary Board of Trustees met and made a number of commitments that they see as integral to moving forward. With a concern for the health of the seminary, several initial steps will take place. These steps include the involvement of pastoral and behavioral health services available to the community, hiring a specialist focused on community reconciliation, and bringing an outside audit focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. During the March 14 meeting the Board voted to end Dr. Theresa Latini’s position as President of the United Lutheran Seminary. You can read their formal statement here.

At this time Bishop James Dunlop has been named as Acting President. His responsibilities as the Bishop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod will be adjusted and shared with synod staff in order for him to take on this role. A search for an interim president for United Lutheran Seminary will begin in the near future. You may find his response to these recent events at the United Lutheran Seminary website.

Acting President Bishop James Dunlop Responds

On Thursday, March 15 the United Lutheran Seminary at the Gettysburg campus gathered for a chapel service. At the end of the service, Acting President Bishop James Dunlop offered a few words. The service and his brief remarks following worship can be found here.

The news about the seminary and leadership changes is hitting the wider news cycle, and we have found this story by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to be a helpful resource.

Currently there is a high level of anxiety, grief, and in some places, conflict, among faculty, staff, students, alumni and rostered leaders.  Your rostered leadership here at St. Peter’s requests prayers for healing, trust, repentance and forgiveness.

— Pastor Craig, Pastor Sarah & Sister Dottie

Rev. Sarah Teichmann

Rev. Sarah Teichmann

Pastor of Christian Formation

I love working in a staff where we are able to use each other’s strengths for the glory of God. I am energized by the lay leaders of the church and the creative ways they can extend the mission of Jesus to congregational members and our community.

2 comments

  1. Thanks to our staff for posting this. I think it is appropriate also to specifically mention and offer up Dr. Latini in our prayers. Likewise, I think it bears reiterating that Dr. Latini did tell of her prior involvement to the appropriate agent of the board, who was also the board chair and a search committee member.

    The ULS board, both as it existed prior to this week and even now with what is left of it, gives me pause. It seems to me Dr. Latini had her beliefs about the issue in question years ago and acted upon those beliefs. I’m going to assume evil was probably not in her heart and her beliefs were sincere. Years went on and her beliefs changed, some would say she grew spiritually. But the board evidently offers no credit for that – yet aren’t they and their institution in the business of spiritual growth – of faith formation? Currently we love the word formation. Isn’t that what growth is? To me, Dr. Latini seems to have gone through her own shaping of faith like most of us do. Yet the board just really did not appear to count that.

    The ineptitude of this Gettysburg-Philadelphia merger is beyond understanding. Dr. Latini joins a growing list of departures. I think the seminaries, merged legally, but not otherwise, would do well to reconsider their purpose and particularly their focus.

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