Dean Markham Writes About the Sin of Racism

Yesterday the Seminary was closed to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We mark the journey that America has made as we confront our racist past and pray that the future might be different. However, this particular MLK Day was especially poignant as our country continues to struggle with diversity.

Given we want to celebrate our political diversity, the Seminary seeks to be careful with our political pronouncements, but on some topics we have an obligation to speak. In my time at Virginia Theological Seminary, we have had staff and students from countries as diverse as Haiti, Sudan, Ghana, Dominican Republic, Tanzania, Kenya, El Salvador, Liberia, and so the list goes on. We have enjoyed the relationships and friendships that have formed. Every country in the world is a mixture of charm and challenges. And in my visits to some of these countries, I have fallen in love with the vibrant witness of the church that I have found there. As the dean speaking on behalf of the Board and the Faculty, I need to make it clear: we appreciate deeply the gifts of those who come from Haiti, El Salvador, Africa, and elsewhere. We always want you to know that you are welcome; and we are delighted when you feel that this place is indeed home for you.

The question MLK Day always poses is this: does America prefer white people? If this country does, then racism is still very much in our midst. And on racism, there are no Christian choices. We are either opposed to racism or we are heretics. The Imago Dei, the Incarnation, and the redemption of the whole world in Christ - all require us to take a stand. Our witness is clear: we condemn unequivocally all those who advocate or even just flirt with racism. We name it for what it is - a deeply destructive sin. May God forgive us all.

The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.
Dean and President

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