Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Statement on Gettysburg Seminary’s Ongoing Service to the Church

Representing the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, the Rev. Michael L. Cooper-White, 12th President, and the Rev. Glenn Ludwig, chair of the Board of Directors, issued the following statement following the August 2009 churchwide assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

September 14, 2009 (Gettysburg, Penna.) As it has for nearly two centuries, Gettysburg Seminary continues preparing faithful Christians who will serve the Church as pastors and other leaders. The Seminary is centered around the Word of God, grounding students in the Holy Scriptures, and enabling them to be faithful proclaimers of the gospel. Together with persons of varying perspectives in the ongoing discussions regarding human sexuality, we rely upon the Bible as the “inspired Word of God” and “the source and norm for proclamation, faith and life,” as our approach to Scripture is described in the constitution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

As a Seminary of the ELCA, we are guided by its policies and teaching stances. At the same time, as a school solidly grounded in the Lutheran tradition, which while “catholic” is also “reforming,” we value academic freedom and uphold the right of all—students, faculty, staff and our many partners—to express their views regarding official church policies and social statements. This seminary has always been a place where informed discussions of vital issues can take place, and where differences of opinion can be expressed, valued and embraced.

Amidst a variety of responses and reactions to recent decisions by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA, the Seminary is committed to offering the many resources developed by faculty, guest lecturers and others who have addressed matters related to human sexuality over the past several years. We are providing seminarians with multiple opportunities to discuss ELCA decisions and how those decisions might affect their future ministries.

We seek to honor and live out among us the call issued from Minneapolis to work and serve together in mutual respect, honoring conscience-bound convictions that result from differing interpretations of Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions and Christian tradition.

We recognize the Church, and our Seminary, have moved through many periods of conflict and controversy over a host of issues down through the decades. And we are confident that just as God has brought us “thus far by faith,” so God’s guiding hand will enable this “school for the prophets” to continue fulfilling our mission now in the 21st century.