This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our use of these cookies.

A Statement from the Faculty on the Recent Protesting of Systemic Violence Against African Americans

‘Not everyone who says Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom; but only those who do the will of my Father in Heaven:’ thus our Lord Jesus warns us of cheap talk, with no discipleship.  The following letter from many of the VTS Seminary faculty to its students and staff members of color cannot stand on its own.  It must be the first sign of a deep and searching conversation about race and racism, in the world and in our Seminary, a conversation that leads to commitment and change.  The aim of the faculty when it re-gathers in August will be to deepen and re-double this work, and to keep our hand to the plow, and not look back.  The Spirit of justice demands this and will stir up in us the wisdom and strength to do so.  This is our prayer for this faculty, for our Seminary, and for our nation.  Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
On the Recent Protesting of Systemic Violence Against African Americans. A Letter from the Undersigned Faculty of Virginia Theological Seminary to Our Students
(signers to this statement do not represent the Seminary or the faculty as a whole)
We, the undersigned faculty, express our empathy, grief, anger, and resolve at this time of global protest over the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and those many others who have had their lives stolen from them. In prayer and deliberation, we face the sins of deep-rooted racism and criminal violence daily vandalizing the lives of many African Americans—a racism and violence present insidiously in our own academic institution and in many of our own churches, local neighborhoods, and communities.
Our biblical and theological foundations uphold us. These foundations witness explicitly to the sin of our world: our vandalized society, the ugliness, aggression, injustice, and tragedy that now manifest themselves. Our school and many of our churches have time and again downplayed or hidden the ugliness. Our foundations witness as well to our shared Imago Dei and to God’s intention to overcome tragedy and rebirth us. God knows and attests to the full range of emotions and convictions each of us is now experiencing. In the Incarnate Son, the passions, convictions, suffering, and fear that each of us faces is assumed by the One, Suffering Servant of God. Our God is Lord of resurrection and return; this God of life is even now at work bringing us all together with a sense of confident theological and spiritual hope.
Throughout its long history on this continent, the African American community has demonstrated what faithful, creative, and enduring strength looks like. Against every odd, the Black Church has witnessed to resurrection, to revival, to liberation, and return. Once again, the African-American community leads the nation to a more perfect union, and the dream of the perfect liberty of the children of God. A modest sign of white privilege being dismantled will be a quiet and firm refusal by well-intentioned whites to imagine they lead, create, or insure the victory of this great cause. To join in the good work begun: this is the joyful task of white members of the Black Lives Matter coalition.

Given our biblical and theological convictions, we stand in solidarity with demonstrations against systemic injustice, anti-black violence, particularly unchecked police violence. (We name and acknowledge that U.S. law enforcement officers shoot and kill far more people than those in other developed nations.) We stand against the use, and the threatened use, of militarized law enforcement and the U.S. military itself to “dominate” U.S. citizens. We demand that rubber bullets, harmful irritants, and other weapons, lethal and nonlethal, cease to be employed against peaceful protestors. We recognize our responsibility, given what we have seen and heard, to stand in solidarity with seminary students and staff members of color.
To students and staff members of color: We know that broad, sustained, and radical change is demanded and required. We recognize that all the passions of the Psalmist will be yours: grief, lament, anger, outrage, resolve. We support your freedom in the Gospel to voice these passions and convictions, and to work for change, in the classroom, in the chapel, in the refectory, in offices, and on the campus grounds. We stand ready to listen, pray, assist, change, and work for change, as God leads us forward together.
Our God, at this time of global protest, we beseech you to meet us in all our powerful emotions and convictions and to turn them into transformative power. Draw us together in solidarity to oppose what is wrong, to join you in your mission on behalf of our broken world, and to pray and work for justice and peace. Reform and renew us, we pray. Maranatha.
Members of the Current Faculty Signing this Statement:
  • Stephen L. Cook
  • Katherine Sonderegger
  • Lisa Kimball
  • James Mathes
  • Ruthanna Hooke
  • Shawn Strout
  • Melody Knowles
  • Ian Markham
  • Margaret Adams Parker
  • Judy Fentress Williams
  • John Yieh
  • James Farwell
  • Joseph Thompson
  • Kathleen Staudt
  • Kathleen Brown
  • Altagracia Perez-Bullard
  • Elizabeth deGaynor
  • Kathryn Glover
  • Sharon Heaney
  • Ross Kane
  • Robert Heaney
  • Mitzi Budde
  • Anne Turner
  • Mark Jefferson
  • A. Katherine Grieb
  • Linda Dienno
3737 Seminary Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22304  |  Phone: 703-370-6600 or 800-941-0083 | Employee Directory