If you have read it here before, you already know the merged Lutheran School of Theology at Phillie and Gettysburg (called United Lutheran Seminary) has gone through its ups and downs of late. Mostly down. They hired a Presbyterian woman as their first President and it turned out that being Presbyterian was not an impediment to being President of a Lutheran Seminary but having once been associated with a group that tried to counsel people out of being gay was. She was let go amid a storm of controversy (again, not over her being Presbyterian). The school is currently on life-support as they seek a donor heart.
Now the worst of possible news has come.
Our ULS community was informed on Tuesday by ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation has suspended our Reconciling in Christ (RIC) designation. RIC status identifies an organization as being accepting of and encouraging the full participation of the LGBTQ community. This is deeply disappointing to the board and me, and I am sure to many others in our community. It is important to note that as ReconcilingWorks took its actions, ULS already had been taking steps to underscore its commitment to the LBGTQ community. Let me be clear: ULS seeks to respect and value the LGBTQ members of our community and stands with them as they discern their calling. Our Gettysburg and Philadelphia campuses strive to be inclusive settings for people of all backgrounds and cultures to learn and worship Jesus Christ. But, now more than ever, it is important that we back these words with our deeds. To that end, I will be working with the Diversity Task Force in the coming weeks to put in place a plan to work in earnest on restoring our RIC designation as we deal with many inclusion issues in our community. I’ve had multiple conversations with their executive director of ReconcilingWorks this week, and I will continue to update you throughout this process. A link to the letter we received, from Reconciling Works, can be found here. I recognize that this news will be painful to hear for many in our community. Please know that there are counselors available on both campuses if you need someone to help process this information.Uh oh. You do not have be doctrinally pure but you must be pure bred true blue GLBTQ friendly in the ELCA. Counselors are available to deal with the shock not of profs or an institutional leader who disagrees with Lutheran doctrine but, oh my gosh, for the horror of losing the RIC designation to show that you are friendly with the whole GLBTQ community and committed to the full program of sexual and gender diversity. I can hardly contain myself.
Apparently 17 students have committed to ULS -- 5 enrolled, 7 committed, and 5 admitted. It just might seem that there are more problems at ULS than a RIC designation.