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MEMPHIS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY RESPONSE TO CHARLOTTESVILLE
MEMPHIS, TN– The faculty and administration of Memphis Theological Seminary (MTS) released the following statement Tuesday, August 15 expressing its commitment against racism and social injustice in light of the events that occurred during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA.
“As the faculty of Memphis Theological Seminary we stand for social justice and against those who affirm, preach and practice the false ideology of white supremacy. The violence in Charlottesville is the result of the rise of racism as a political force by various white identity hate groups. We deeply mourn and regret the loss of life, the injuries sustained, and the persistence of racism in our churches and society. Memphis Theological Seminary has theological and historical commitments to racial justice. Our theological commitment reflects our core values of scholarship, piety, and justice.
Scholarship directs us to learn from our brothers and sisters and to engage critically with a Christian tradition that is an important resource in our struggles for justice. Piety directs us to see God as standing with those who are excluded and harmed, and to respect for the dignity of others because all persons are created in the image of God. Justice directs us to seek right relationship with God, with others, and with all of God’s creation. Thus, we are compelled in faith to offer radical hospitality to all and to seek a society in which all people are treated with respect and dignity. Together, scholarship, piety, and justice affirm that a society must always attend to injustices, especially racial injustice.
As Christians, we abhor the twisted use of Christian heritage and symbols as a justification for the lie of white supremacy and white nationalism. We are committed to exposing these lies in our work in the classroom, in our churches, and in our communities.
Our move to Memphis from McKenzie, Tennessee in 1964 during Freedom Summer, is a vivid example of our commitment to racial justice. Memphis Theological Seminary began in Memphis as an integrated institution; the first private, voluntarily integrated school in the city. Students and faculty from the seminary were active participants in the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike in 1968. Studies in African American theology and church life have been part of our core curriculum since the 1960’s. We are proud of our other strides in diversity. Memphis Theological Seminary was the first U.S. seminary to hire an African American woman as our Academic Dean. The annual Barbara Holmes lecture series at the seminary honors her legacy. Faculty, students, and graduates continue to be active in the struggles for racial justice.
We commit ourselves to creating spaces where conversation about racial difference and inequality leads to personal and social transformation. We will be a place which promotes the just inclusion of all people in our seminary, in our churches, and in the broader society.
We invite all persons of faith and others of good will to join us in the important work of resistance to racism and white supremacy, so that we might create the Beloved Community in which all are welcomed and respected as children of God.”