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News from the Hill March 09, 2015 | back to index

Response to a Call for Racial Justice

We have been invited by African American Deans and Presidents in theological education to endorse an open letter they wrote decrying the ongoing lack of justice that black Americans face, examples of which have been occurring with ever greater frequency.  At Andover Newton Theological school we wholeheartedly endorse their call to action, and recommit ourselves to doing all we can to radically embody the love of God in our actions for social justice in all its forms. Prophets who have gone before us call for nothing less than this from us.

Jeremiah yearned for a day when God’s will and God’s way would be written, not on tablets of stone, but written on our hearts and written on our minds (chapter 31). He longs for a day God’s desire for just action is etched so finely, so permanently on our hearts and minds that we would never need to be reminded of God’s will, because in our every action we would be living out God’s love in the world.

One of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s accomplishments was to demonstrate to the nation that we needed new laws and needed to enforce existing laws. But Dr. King saw that something else was needed as well. We needed—and still need—a new expression of God’s covenant with humankind, one not written as a law enacted by Congress, one not in the form of some judge’s decision, but a covenant etched on our hearts and written on our minds that binds us to action with and on behalf of all those who struggle with racial injustice.

As the oldest theological school in the United States, we join myriad others who have fought against injustice for centuries. We reaffirm our commitment to work for racial justice and to redouble our ongoing efforts to prepare moral and spiritual leaders for transforming ministry in a nation torn apart by the legacies of slavery.  We must eradicate this scourge from among us, for we know that hate can never have the last word. We embrace the call to “speak up and speak out” until justice does indeed roll down like waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. We embrace Isaiah’s vision as our clarion call, and will do all in our power to see that it is so.

Martin B. Copenhaver

Nancy Nienhuis
Dean of Campus Life