Mar 202020

A Message from CTS President Stephen Ray

March 20, 2020

My dear siblings in the family of God,

I trust this note finds you knowing some moments of calm in the midst of the unfolding uncertainty. I am writing to share some thoughts about the current situation of our nation and world, and some updates about the ways that Chicago Theological Seminary is responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

First, I call to your remembrance that God’s love for us is still strong and the holy presence ever immediate. In the midst of growing fear and anxiety, it easy to forget this or not anchor ourselves daily in this certainty. Thinking back on my early days of ministry which were unfolding in the midst of another health catastrophe, I remember reading a piece about love in the time of plague. Back then, in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when we had no idea how the disease was transmitted the fear was thick and anxiety palpable. For people in our business there was the constant need to answer the question: “where is God in all of this,” and to respond to the charlatans in our midst who too quickly cast their own judgment as God’s with the effect of worsening the plague and destroying many lives in the process. What I do remember from those times was there were only two things we had to hold onto, our capacity to love in spite of terror and our hard-wired inclination to hope in the midst of ruin. I share these recollections because, in these days of constant uncertainty and social upheaval, it is easy enough for us to become overwhelmed by the practicalities thrust upon us by the news and government edict. It is in these times that our society and our world need religious leaders to remind us that what we have in and with one another cannot be taken away by catastrophe; nor, can we be finally robbed of the glimmer of the divine within all of us that beckons to the sure knowledge that this too shall pass and the sun will rise on the other side of the darkness of fear.

As an institution born in the midst of social upheaval, fraught with fear and promise, CTS was made for these times. In both our commitment to faithful response to the moment and dedication to embody love and mercy in every circumstance, we continue to strive to provide education and support for students, care for our faculty and staff, and theological leadership to our larger community. As a first step, we have moved all of our academic and administrative operations on-line. By doing so, we hope to continue to provide high-level theological education while maximizing the safety of our community and the communities of which we are all a part. We are currently formulating other measures to address the uncertainty and needs within our community.

Join us for a community Town Hall meeting next Wednesday, March 25th at 12pm CST. A Zoom link and calendar invites will be coming.

Have confidence that we as a community will get through this, together. Know also that unto us has been entrusted the work of hope, if we but believe that together we are enough for this moment.

Keeping you in my prayers.