“The Pittsburgh Theological Seminary has long been accused of facilitating anti-Israel sentiment,” read the caption in a recent article regarding an event held on our campus (“Racial Justice Summit provides platform for anti-Jewish rhetoric,” Feb. 8). We are saddened that this perception persists and write to clarify our position.
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary intentionally welcomes onto our campus organizations with many diverging viewpoints. Indeed, we aspire to be a location at which difficult — even painful — conversations can take place. Working with our brothers and sisters of other faith traditions, we uphold the values that bind us together — respect for and welcoming of all God’s children.
The Seminary community recognizes that if we are going to be one Pittsburgh, everyone must listen and everyone must be heard. We aspire to model the kind of dialogue we want our students to have when divergent political and theological viewpoints arise. In this time in our country, respectful disagreement is especially urgent. Love of neighbor does not always mean agreeing; but it does require honoring others’ humanity.
“Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is our partner in providing honest conversation — at times conflicting conversation. Together we seek to build bridges to create understanding,” said Tim Stevens, founder of the Black and White Reunion and member of the Pittsburgh Racial Justice Summit Coordinating Committee. “We want truth from all perspectives to be heard, listened to, and appreciated. The Summit provides the opportunity for the full airing of all voices on what have been difficult conversations for decades and beyond.”
Pittsburgh Seminary unequivocally rejects all forms of hate speech, racism and egregious activities that will harm others in any way. Following the abhorrent violence at the Tree of Life synagogue, we made this statement in support of all Jewish people: “We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community. This act of violent anti-Semitism is horrific and inexcusable. In the days ahead, we will seek opportunities to join in public expressions of grief and unity. In the meantime, we offer our prayers that God’s peace will overcome division, love overcome fear, and that the better angels of our nature will prevail — here in Pittsburgh, across America, and around the world.”
We continue to affirm that statement of solidarity, and continue to commit to support, dialogue with, and learn alongside our Jewish neighbors for the sake of God’s shalom in our community.
President, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary