ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton shares some of the rich contributions of Black Lutheran History.
The Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary of Lenoir-Rhyne University announces accreditation has been reaffirmed by the Association of Theological Schools.
LTSS received the maximum 10-year term from ATS, which oversees more than 270 graduate schools in theology and ministry in the United States and Canada. The seminary has been accredited by ATS since 1944.
As part of Lenoir-Rhyne, the seminary is also accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. “I’ve seen the commitment of our faculty and friends of the seminary,” said the Rev. Dr. Mary Shore, rector and dean of LTSS. “It is very gratifying to have other people witness that, as well.”
The process began in the fall of 2019 when Shore and Dr. Brent Driggers, chair of the committee that oversaw an institutional self-study, attended a conference to ascertain everything required to reaffirm accreditation. It was chiefly through its 184-page self-study that the seminary faculty and staff gathered information and provided analysis about core institutional areas such as mission, curriculum, student services, governance and finances.
In November 2020, a committee from ATS met — virtually due to COVID-19 — with administrators at the seminary, faculty, staff and students, while poring over the self-study in order to recommend a term to reaffirm accreditation for LTSS. LTSS received exemplary marks for its commitment to be an inclusive community, for its faculty and staff who demonstrated genuine passion about their faith and care for students, as well as its relationship with Lenoir-Rhyne, which strengthened its resources and ability to provide quality education and experiences for seminarians. “It’s an affirmation of a lot of work we’ve done strengthening our program and our ongoing program assessment processes,” Driggers said.
The last accreditation cycle for LTSS began shortly after it merged with Lenoir-Rhyne University, which has turned out to be a great partnership for both parties. “We have a campus that is more useful now than it was when it was populated by just seminary programs,” Shore said. “Lenoir-Rhyne has a presence in Columbia that it didn’t have, and the seminary has access to more resources such as the Center for Teacher Learning, information technology and marketing communications. As part of the university, the seminary has access to all of those resources, and the university has a theological faculty and stature in the church that is greater than it was before.”
BLACK HISTORY MONTH: THE REV. JEHU JONES
The first African American pastor, the Rev. Jehu Jones, was born in Charleston, SC. He went to Philadelphia for seminary, was ordained in 1832, and founded the first African-American Lutheran Congregation in 1834. St. Paul’s in Philadelphia took hold in that neighborhood, while Pr. Jones served them and over 2000 African American families in Eastern Pennsylvania.
This February, the SC Synod remembers African-American History month. We thank God for the faithful ministry of African Descent pastors, deacons, and laypeople in this and every age.
ELCA presiding bishop, other faith leaders call for arms reduction agreement extension
January 21, 2021
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has been joined by 21 U.S. religious leaders in a Jan. 19 statement to President-elect Biden’s transition team calling for an extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) agreement. This is a nuclear arms reduction treaty, jointly agreed to by the United States and the Russian Federation 10 years ago, that will automatically expire on Feb. 5, 2021, unless the two parties agree to extend it.
In signing on to the agreement, Eaton recalled the words of the prophet Isaiah: “[The Lord] shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4).
Eaton also noted that, according to the 1995 ELCA social statement “For Peace in God’s World,” this church would give priority to “agreements among the leading nuclear powers to reduce their nuclear stockpiles and to decrease the possibility of nuclear confrontation or accident”—precisely what New START addresses.
In the statement, Eaton and the other religious leaders said:
“We call for an immediate five-year extension of the New START treaty, in order to avoid a nuclear crisis interfering with the other urgent priorities facing the nation and the world—from containing the pandemic to restarting the economy. Equally, a five-year extension would provide a period of predictability for new negotiations on further steps to reduce nuclear dangers.”
For the past 18 months, ELCA churchwide organization staff have been participating in informal discussions among leading U.S. and Russian arms control experts aimed at reducing the danger of nuclear war. The experts have encouraged initiatives by the religious leaders―such as the statement―as a first, important step toward restoring a basis for official, longer-term talks on reducing the respective nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia. While some official U.S.-Russia talks have been held in recent months, they have not produced clear results.
“We hope this, and future, initiatives can lead to concrete steps by the U.S., Russia and, eventually, other nuclear powers to reduce the danger of an unimaginable nuclear confrontation and lay a path instead for meeting urgent human needs,” said Dennis Frado, director of the Lutheran Office for World Community at the United Nations. “It reflects the importance of moral leadership to promote confidence-building measures that help adversaries to re-create a basis for a more secure world.”
The informal discussions by arms control experts are a recent effort by the Global Priorities campaign, an interreligious group that aims to secure the common good of all people by reducing global military spending and redirecting resources to unmet human needs. The latest endeavor has involved representatives of the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church. The campaign has previously been endorsed by the Lutheran World Federation (Eleventh Assembly, Stuttgart, Germany, 2010), Church World Service, the U.S. Committee of the World Council of Churches, and others. The ELCA has provided support to the campaign for several years.
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