From Carter to Comey, the legacy of “Washington’s Favorite Theologian”  endures.
Christianity Today, Elesha Coffman, May 19, 2017

Nearly 50 years since his death, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr still routinely makes headlines. A high-profile documentary, An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story, debuted earlier this year. Recently deposed FBI director James Comey “almost certainly” used his name for his private Twitter account. Ten years ago, TheAtlantic declared “Everybody Loves Reinhold”; last month, Religion & Politics called him “Washington’s Favorite Theologian.” He commands respect from left (Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama) and right (John McCain, David Brooks). So what’s the attraction?

Here are five aspects of Niebuhr’s work that help explain his enduring relevance.

1. He thought big.

Niebuhr titled his 1938–40 Gifford Lectures (the most illustrious theology lecture series in the world) “The Nature and Destiny of Man.” On page 1 of the published volume 1, he wrote, “Man has always been his own most vexing problem. How shall he think of himself?” By page 2, he was pondering “the admitted evils of human history,” “the question of the value of human life,” and “whether life is worth living.” These are not questions limited to a single church, era, or school of biblical interpretation. The resources Niebuhr brought to bear on them were similarly broad, encompassing Hebrew and Christian Scriptures; ancient, medieval, and modern theology and philosophy; and the social sciences.

Positively, the grand scale of Niebuhr’s work meant that he could engage almost anyone. Who hasn’t wondered about the problem of evil or the value of human life? (Scribner’s was sufficiently convinced of the appeal of The Nature and Destiny of Man to publish a two-volume, mass-market paperback edition in 1963. The Modern Library ranked it one of the top 20 non-fiction books of the 20th century.) On the other hand, big books full of big ideas are prone to divergent interpretation. It makes sense that people from different points on an ideological spectrum could look at Niebuhr and see what they’re looking for while missing what others see in the same work.

2. He acknowledged sin.

The early 1900s saw the rise of strain of liberal theology famously caricatured by Niebuhr’s brother, H. Richard Niebuhr, in the sentence: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” Reinhold joined his brother in disdaining this glib gospel, especially in light of the horrors of WWI and WWII. In earlier work, such as Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), he held out hope that individuals could choose selflessness and justice motivated by love, but he cautioned that groups of people would always seek their own advantage to the detriment of others. “The larger the group,” he wrote, “the more certainly will it express itself selfishly in the total human community.”

He eventually grew more pessimistic about individuals as well, viewing them as not only prone to do bad things but as indelibly tainted by original sin. In 1954, when asked by This Week magazine to identify the key verse in the Bible, he selected Ephesians 4:32 (“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”) Andrew Finstuen explained in Original Sin and Everyday Protestants, “For Niebuhr, without an acknowledgement of the universality and inescapability of sin, Christianity—and by extension his deeply Christian criticism—had no center of gravity.” Each historical recurrence of man’s inhumanity to man affirms this insight.

3. He prized action.

Niebuhr didn’t always agree with his brother. In 1932, they exchanged articles in The Christian Century on the topic of American intervention against Japanese imperialism and, more broadly, Christian involvement in politics. H. Richard argued for “The Grace of Doing Nothing,” but Reinhold countered, “Must We Do Nothing?” Reinhold became an early, vocal advocate for American entry into WWII, a stance that accelerated a rupture with the pacifist editor of the Century and led him to launch his own magazine, Christianity and Crisis.

The United States continued to pursue activist internationalism after WWII, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, so Niebuhr’s blessing of such actions remained popular. Although Niebuhr never held political office (his 1932 run for Congress, on the Socialist party ticket, failed), he became a political figure, founding Americans for Democratic Action and serving on the Council on Foreign Relations. In this sense, politicians who claim fealty to Niebuhr aren’t so much admiring a prophetic outsider as heaping laurels on a hero of their own tribe.

4. But … irony.

The main thing that prevented Niebuhr from being a court theologian for the American political class was his rich sense of irony, most notably expounded in The Irony of American History (1952). Just as the United States was draping itself in righteousness for an epic battle against godless Communism, Niebuhr warned how easily America’s virtues could become vices, how often the nation declaimed the speck in another’s eye while ignoring the plank in its own, how many times the best-laid plans resulted in disaster.

In a Pew Forum on Niebuhr in 2009, Wilfred M. McClay highlighted a quote from the book, “We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization. We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimated.” In other words, Niebuhr said to American leaders, go ahead and throw your weight around, but don’t pretend that your motives are pure, and don’t be shocked if you achieve something less than justice. The first part of that advice has been heeded more often than the latter two.

5. He really did write the Serenity Prayer.

Tracing the authorship of this famous prayer (“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”) became something of a cottage industry a few years ago, but the best available evidence supports Niebuhr’s authorship. This is relevant to assessing his enduring appeal for a couple of reasons.

One, many, many people—including countless members of Alcoholics Anonymous—know something of Niebuhr’s theology even if they have never heard his name. Two, the prayer is a reminder that Niebuhr was a pastor (Evangelical and Reformed Church) before he was a celebrated theologian and foreign policy expert, and faith was not merely an intellectual exercise for him. He speaks to leaders of the free world as well as individuals trapped in addiction. For all of these reasons, he remains worth wrestling with.

Elesha Coffman is assistant professor of history at Baylor University and author of The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline (Oxford).

 

Reinhold Niebuhr graduated from Eden Theological Seminary in 1913.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About 1,500 people gathered in the gym of the Staenberg Family Center in Creve Coeur to denounce violent acts of hate on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, at an interfaith vigil at the Jewish Community Center. The event followed Saturday’s deadly shooting that killed 11 people at a Pennsylvania synagogue. Speakers from area Muslim, and Christian congregations, including Eden Seminary, joined Jewish leaders to liken the acts committed against Jews at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh to other recent attacks on groups singled out for their faith, race, ethnicity, country of origin or political ideology.

Because Eden Seminary plays an active role in the interfaith community in St. Louis, President David Greenhaw, as well as Eden alumni were included in the event. The speakers included Dr. Andrew Rehfeld who is the president and chief executive officer of Jewish Federation of St. Louis, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, President Greenhaw and other religious leaders and politicians.

In addition to the vigil, the Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis issued the following statement on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. The Interfaith Partnership (IP) of Greater St. Louis and the 30 communities of religion and conscience we represent mourn the loss of life at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue on October 27, 2018. Those of us who pray, pray for the victims and their families, and offer our prayers of healing for the entire community wounded by this violence. Those of us who do not pray dedicate ourselves to work tirelessly to create a world in which attacks such as this never occur. Together we condemn this attack, like far too many other such attacks, made on our Jewish sisters, brothers, and friends. As a community of many faiths and none we continue to pray and will continue to work for the day when all people can live in peace and safety.

Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis works with congregations and faith communities to promote peace, understanding and respect among people of all faiths and within the greater Saint Louis metro area. Eden Seminary is an active member of the IP and President Greenhaw is a member of the board.

 

Excerpts from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Photos by Christian Gooden of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

August 07, 2018
Written by Connie Larkman

A week-long retreat channeled the creativity of artists and activists in the United Church of Christ in an effort to confront the world we live in today. Nineteen participants, ecumenical partners and UCC clergy from across the wider Church, were welcomed to the National Setting and the Amistad Chapel in Cleveland, July 30-August 3. The group’s goal — to create a new and evolving language of faith for this moment in time that can be used to impact and resource local churches.

“I am thrilled that the staff called artists and activists among us to take what the spirit has offered and build a new worship experience,” the Rev. John Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president, told the group on Wednesday morning, August 1. “You will help us to be more open, to feel free enough in presence of our creator to be fully who we are, without inhibition. It is the voice, the song, the words of the artist that bring full expression to the movement of the spirit. The artists and activists among us open the space for all of us to see who we are and who we can become.”

“We know that our public witness and justice work is not separate from the formation of our faith and what happens inside of church buildings with our faith communities. However, there are still very few resources and practices that bridge these areas of ministry and community building,” said the Rev. Tracy Howe Wispelway, minister of Congregational and Community Engagement, Justice and Local Church Ministries. She and the Rev. Susan Blain, minister for Faith Formation: Curator for Worship and Liturgical Arts, Local Church Ministries, convened the retreat.

“We invited the artists, activists and liturgists for two reasons,” Wispelwey continued. “First, to extend our current worship resources and the ministry of Worship Ways towards resourcing local churches beyond Sunday services with liturgical pieces, rituals and art. We are also imagining ways to accompany support and extend our systemic justice work with cultural work, storytelling, art and public liturgy.”

The gathering brought together spoken word poets and performers, liturgy scholars, designers and dancers, social activists and artists who work with painting and fabric art. Each of the participants was given the time and space to share their gifts with the group, through individual presentations, larger discussions, community meals, and worship.

The Rev. Erin Beardemphl attended Eden Seminary, has served several churches in associations, and is currently a stay at home mom who fills in for her colleagues. An artist who works in watercolor, Beardemphl uses her current faith community in California, Redlands UCC, as a laboratory for worship experiments. She shared some of what she has learned with the group in her presentation Wednesday morning.

“I asked kids to do a self-portrait and put inside it what makes them feel brave and strong,” she said. Beardemphl told the gathering she was looking for self-expression; she said what she discovered was amazing. “You can see the hope, fears and dreams and love of the artists in their work.”

Art, Beardemphl said, is an expression of who one is and who he/she is becoming. “If we could, in our churches and in our communities, show people that they really are creative beings, I expect the world would be so much more loving.”

Each of the participants took time over the course of the week to share their passion. The Rev. Maren Tirabassi, a longtime United Church of Christ pastor in New Hampshire and Massachusetts is a wordsmith and writer; an author of twenty books. She talked about encouraging people to express themselves by telling their stories, writing on whatever they can get their hands on —including paper plates or band aids. “Churches are an anthology of gathering stories,” Tirabassi said. “I teach people how to gather their words.”

“The national gathering of artists and activists was amazing. Bringing in a cross section of gifted people within the UCC and our ecumenical partners is all about intersection,” said the Rev. Justo González, II, a leader in the Sanctuary movement and an associate minister of the Michigan Conference UCC. “Amazing artists, poets, scholars, dancers, story tellers and activists went hog wild in conceptualizing worship and liturgy in traditional and creative, out of the box ways. Our aim is to provide pastors, worship leaders and liturgy planning teams creative ways connect congregations, those in the pews and the real life issues that are impacting our communities across the country. We strive to create intersectional worship resources that comfort, challenge, raise consciousness and provide strategies that move us beyond Sunday and our buildings to action. We hope to raise awareness and have congregations ask impacted communities what they need rather than assuming and overstepping our role.”

“If you are willing, in a community, to try, you’ll see things happen that you weren’t expecting,” Beardemphl said. “God created us to be creative, in His image. When we forget that we are made in God’s image, as creative beings, we forget that God is in us.”

“I am grateful to be invited to part of this amazing group,” Gonzalez said. “I thank Susan Blain and Tracy Wispelwey for planning this gathering and gifting me by inviting me to part of this team.”

“Thank you for presenting yourself here for the sake of a church that is crying out and hungry for presence of the sacred,” Dorhauer said. “I can’t wait to see what the church will become through the offering of your gifts.”

Webster Kirkwood Times July 13, 2018

Eden Theological Seminary has introduced a new program for professionals who have recently retired or are planning to retire and are exploring new purpose-filled engagement with their communities.

Called “NEXT Steps: Midlife and Beyond,” the program will meet a growing desire among baby boomers who are serious about transitioning their career experiences and talents to benefit causes of personal importance.

Beginning on Sept. 13, subject matter experts will guide the first group of up to 15 participants, ages 55 and up, to self-discovery through seminar-style discussions, guest speakers, study, networking and opportunities to explore the nonprofit world through interviewing and volunteering.

David Greenhaw, president of Eden Theological Seminary, will lead the fall session of NEXT Steps.

“Lots of people make financial plans for their retirement; fewer make plans about who they will be and what they will do,” said Greenhaw. “NEXT Steps is designed to help pull together the threads of a professional career, the needs of the world and one’s own beliefs and convictions.”

Greenhaw, who regularly leads educational programs in St. Louis and beyond, has organized the program around the theme of vocation.

Applications for the first participant group are due by Aug. 31. Sessions will take place on eight Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m., from September through December, at the Walker Leadership Institute on the campus of Eden Seminary, 475 E. Lockwood Ave. in Webster Groves.

Participants from all faith backgrounds are welcome and encouraged to apply. For more information, contact Brown at 314-918-2782 or [email protected]

Town & Style Magazine 7-18-18

Webster Groves

The Rev. Dr. David Greenhaw is a preacher, teacher, scholar and theologian. Greenhaw, president of Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves and an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, says many regular folks have too lofty a conception of the term ‘theology.’ “It’s just humans talking about God,” he says. In practice, however, Greenhaw notes that some clergy “talk at you about God. All human beings have to arrive at a concept of their own.” They must also arrive at a viable concept of their life’s work. Some people couldn’t imagine doing anything but devoting themselves to ‘the common good’ while supporting themselves and their families. But others work only to make enough money for a house with a two-car garage and two leased luxury vehicles, to send well-dressed kids to college and to play golf on the weekends. Then, retirement means they can play golf whenever they want. (But how much golf can one actually play after retirement?

To some of you, that’s surely an impertinent question.) Greenhaw never keeps score. He only hopes to make a satisfying shot or two. If he shanks one, he just drops another one of the dozens he’s collected at the fringes of the Forest Park course during walks. Life’s too precious to spend looking for lost balls in the weeds. And at 63, near the age when many of us get the gold watch, Greenhaw has invented a program for professionals who have recently retired, or are planning to, and wish to infuse the rest of their lives with meaning. ‘NEXT Steps: Midlife and Beyond’ is designed for baby boomers serious about transitioning their career experience and talents to benefit the greater community.

Beginning Sept.13, Greenhaw will guide the first 15 or so participants, age 55 and up, to self-discovery through seminar-style discussions, guest speakers, study, networking and opportunities to explore the nonprofit world. The eight sessions will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays September through December, and the first already has seven guests signed up and has reached ‘critical mass,’ Greenhaw notes. (Participants from all faith backgrounds are welcome and encouraged to apply.) “A growing number of baby boomers seek new social purpose in their lives,” says program coordinator Dr. Janet Brown. Some seek to start nonprofits. NEXT Steps guest speakers will include theologians, social entrepreneurs, and leaders in the business and nonprofit worlds. The program will be held on the Eden campus at Walker Leadership Institute. The institute strives to equip business leaders with skills and experiences to guide their organizations in better serving the common good, partnering with other academic, religious and business groups to host workshops, conferences and forums to identify, encourage and activate community leadership. “Lots of people make financial plans for their retirement, but fewer make plans about who they will be and what they will do,” Greenhaw emphasizes.

Applications for the first group are due by Aug. 31. Visit eden.edu for more details.

By Bill Beggs Jr.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 12, 2018

In 1939, the MS St. Louis, a German ocean liner, attempted to dock in the United States so that passengers seeking asylum from Nazi Germany could disembark. The U.S. State Department turned them away. Of more than 900 passengers, 254 were murdered; most were killed in Nazi concentration camps.

Last week, on the steps of the International Institute of St. Louis, a service of remembrance was held. Here, in the city sharing a name with the ill-fated ship, women and men from many faiths and nations gathered to keep mindful of this tragic history. Each of those rejected from America’s shores and subsequently killed by Nazis were memorialized, as the place of their murder was read aloud. Near the end of the service, those gathered chanted “never again.” I was among those chanting.

Yet even as I said “never again,” I felt dishonest — dishonest because we are right now doing it again. The U.S. government is turning away thousands of refugees, forcing them to return home, where dangerous and often deadly futures await. Our immigration policy is as mean-spirited and unwelcoming as it was in 1939. While I am glad for those who commit themselves to “never again,” in our time the call must be: Stop turning away our neighbors in need; find ways to be welcoming.

David Greenhaw • Webster Groves

Eden Theological Seminary president

Photo Caption/Credit
Central American families are camped out on a border bridge between Ciudad Miguel Aleman and Roma, Texas, on June 4, 2018. The migrants seeking asylum say they presented their documents to U.S. Customs officials on the bridge. But the officials said the families have to wait on the Mexican side of the bridge because there isn’t enough space for them to be processed. (Molly Hennessy-Fiske/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

June 6, 2018 – Webster Groves, Mo.

Change doesn’t come easy, yet Rev. Musa Maina of Kenya recently helped achieve a milestone transformation in the Reformed Church of East Africa (RCEA). For the first time in the church’s history, women are approved to be ordained ministers in the church.

“We continue on the path of female vocational calling with the first female ordination planned for July 2018,” he says. “Notices have been sent, and I feel a strong sense of God’s presence and God,” he says.

Rev. Maina attributes this progressive church advancement, in part, to the insight he gained while studying at Eden Theological Seminary, Webster Groves, Mo. “We owe this to God who in Revelation 21:3, makes a dwelling place among people. I owe the boldness to the formation I received especially at Eden. Whatever lies ahead, one thing I know for sure is that I have no apologies over it,” says Rev. Maina.

This realization fueled Rev. Mania’s process of transforming church politics to ordain women minsters. While already a pastor and faculty member of the Reformed Institute of Theological Training (RITT) in Kenya, Maina decided to further pursue his religious education at Eden. He earned a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies (MTS), graduating in 2005. Thus, began the long path Maina followed to change RCEA policy on women as ministers.

Eden Theological Seminary is a graduate school preparing women and men for ordained Christian ministry. One of six seminaries of the United Church of Christ, the Eden community is committed to advancing the greater good. The school welcomes everyone, regardless of denomination, gender, race or background.

After returning to Kenya, Rev. Maina continued his leadership role in RITT and worked as a moderator for the RCEA. The partnership of RITT/RCEA and Eden allowed him to collaborate and engage the RCEA in new progressive ideas that were more inclusive of women as preachers and worship leaders.

His efforts, with support from Eden and others, resulted in the first RCEA woman, Everlyne Biboko, to attend Eden and earn a MTS degree to prepare for ordination in the RCEA church.

David Greenhaw, Eden Theological Seminary president and professor of preaching and worship, says, “While at Eden, Rev. Maina used our program to help expand his knowledge of critical biblical interpretation. It also exposed him to women in leadership roles in many U.S. churches.

“Our program provides a religious education with a global scope, yet it’s intimate in setting,” says Greenhaw. “Students live, learn and worship alongside classmates from diverse backgrounds. We help establish a career path for our students through a family of faculty mentors and other students from across the U.S. and the world.

“While studying at Eden, students enjoy easy access to entertainment and culture offered in the St. Louis area. They leave our seminary with a graduate degree in theology and lifelong friendships built with roots in Christ.”

Enrollment in the Eden graduate programs ranges from 160 to 200 students. In 2017, the entering class consisted of a 50-50 ratio of gender and race from multiple Christian denominations. Student ages range from those in their 20’s to those in their 60’s and 70’s. It’s a diverse student base for exploring different theologies and interpretive approaches.

Deborah Krause, dean of Eden Theological Seminary, describes the educational experience at Eden as partnership between faculty, students and global communities. Sharing knowledge and developing friendships within the global community helped pave the way for the sort of transformation that Maina pursued.

“Rev. Maina told us coming to Eden early in his ministry offered him insight into a more progressive theological context and expanded his understanding of who God has called to church leadership,” she says. “His years of effort since graduating from Eden helped lead to the November 2017 RCEA reform which approved of women ordination.”

During a sabbatical to Kenya, Krause also broadened her friendships and experienced a knowledge exchange that enriched her work as a teacher of Biblical interpretation.

Krause explains that while in Kenya she taught classes and met with RCEA faculty, many of which were men. During her conversations, she says, “It became apparent that these teachers recognized that women’s church leadership was a positive trend that would continue. Yet, there were some parts of the church still holding the traditional view that only men could be leaders.”

While Krause was in Kenya, she and Rev. Maina visited many churches where she was invited to preach and lead worship. “This was an opportunity for me to learn about the RCEA and for Rev. Maina to engage the church with an example of women’s leadership,” says Krause.

“Such a partnership offers opportunity for transformation for all involved. Exposing people to different ideas and approaches relies upon a true partnership between Eden and our students. That’s how transformative change happens.”

Ultimately, the Eden mission is simple, says Eden president Greenhaw. “When you look around at towns, communities and countries around the world, you see the influence of the Christian church. Not just in congregations, but in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and outreach ministries of many kinds. The church makes its mark every day.

“Eden welcomes everyone, and we hope to provide an exchange of ideas that can be transformative to help our graduates influence positive change for the better good when they return to their home communities.”

Jun 07, 2018

Howard University religion and culture scholar to succeed Michael Jinkins who retires Sept. 2

The Louisville Seminary Board of Trustees voted June 7 to appoint the Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard III as president. A scholar, author, consultant and speaker on the subject of African American religion and culture, Pollard was previously dean of the School of Divinity and professor of Religion and Culture at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Pollard said he was drawn both by the history and the current trajectory of Louisville Seminary.

“Rare is the theological institution today that innovates well in contemporary society, modeling theological education for just inclusivity in an increasingly diverse world,” Pollard said. “As much of our society is focused on division, I will ensure that Louisville Seminary will continue to build bridges between people of different religious, social and cultural perspectives, through teaching and scholarship, and the preparation of persons for lives of faithful witness and public service.”

Prior to his eleven years at Howard University, Pollard served as director of Black Church Studies and chair of American Religious Cultures at Emory University, and taught at Wake Forest University and St. Olaf College. He earned degrees from Duke University, Harvard University Divinity School and Fisk University.

Pollard has authored, co-authored and edited a number of books and journal articles. He serves on the Board of Directors for the In Trust Center for Theological Schools and the Advisory Committee for the Luce Fund for Theological Education. He served on the Board of Commissioners for the Association of Theological Schools from 2010-2016 and was chair from 2014-2016. A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Pollard and his wife Jessica have two adult children.

President transition this September
Current Seminary President Rev. Dr. Michael Jinkins announced his retirement in April 2017. Pollard will begin work as president at the start of the fall semester this September and will be formally inaugurated in spring 2019.

Pollard’s appointment follows a national search conducted by a presidential search committee including several Seminary trustees, faculty members, and other seminary constituents and led by Board Chair Lant B. Davis of Birmingham, Alabama.

“Dr. Pollard embodies Louisville Seminary’s long tradition of bridging differences within the church and broader society,” said Davis. “He will affirm and further develop our historic Presbyterian emphasis on inter-denominational cooperation. Under his leadership I hope the Seminary will demonstrate a way forward through some of the most divisive issues of our time. He is a principled peacemaker.”

Jinkins will continue to serve as president until September 2. During his eight-year tenure, Louisville Seminary launched its bold Covenant for the Future vision which made full-tuition scholarships available for every master’s degree student and, by 2021, will provide stipends for living expenses. The only seminary in the country to offer this benefit, Louisville Seminary students participating in the scholarship “pay the debt forward” by engaging in learning and service opportunities that enhance their opportunities for leadership in church and non-profit sectors.

“Dr. Pollard’s reputation as an eminent scholar and renowned leader precedes him,” said Jinkins. “I believe he is precisely the leader Louisville Seminary needs for the next chapter in its history. And I feel honored to welcome him as the next president of the Seminary.”

The Conference on Drone Warfare was held at Eden Theological Seminary on Friday, June 8, 2018, co-sponsored by Eden Theological Seminary and the Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare. It was attended by about 30 people of faith. It explored why many people of faith believe that the use of lethal drones should be limited or ended.

The presenters included:
Bishop Richard E. Pates, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines and former chair of the International Justice and Peace Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Matt Hawthorne, policy director, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Washington, DC
Rev. Dr. David Greenhaw, president, Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri
Michael McPhearson, national executive director of Veterans for Peace
Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love, Associate Professor of International Affairs, Catholic University, Washington, DC

Two films produced by the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare for congregations were also screened: Moral and Safe?: War, Peace, Drone Warfare and the Religious Community and a 30 minute version of the documentary, National Bird. Information about the films can be found at www.interfaithdronenetwork.org

During the conference, several concerns were expressed about lethal drones, including:
1. Because lethal drones are so easy to use, it is tempting to expand warfare into non-war zones thereby increasing the likelihood that the U.S. will resort to war.
2. Though it is possible to kill terrorist leaders with lethal drones, drones cannot kill an extremist movement. In fact, the opposite is likely – drone attacks increase the determination of the terrorist and increases the number of extremists. There is an expression that says “Kill a terrorist; create ten more.” Drones do not kill violent ideology; they generate hatred and mistrust of America.
3. Though the number of civilian casualties, including children, may be smaller than those resulting from the use of other weapons, the weapon is not as precise as the government claims.
4. Drones are proliferating. More than 80 countries currently have lethal drones. It is increasingly likely that lethal drones will be used against the U.S. The world urgently needs strong international agreement banning or limiting the use of lethal drones.
5. The use of drones is not transparent. The U.S. government has kept much of this program secret. There is a disconnection between what Americans know and what the government is doing. It is difficult for Americans to publicly criticize drone warfare because they have very little information. When information has been made public because of litigation, policies have changed.
6. The use of drones directly harms attempts to promote human rights and the rule of law by violating international human rights law.
7. Terrorist groups, like ISIS, now use lethal drones.
8. Though drone operators cannot be killed or physically wounded, they are often damaged psychologically and some have been diagnosed with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

About the Interfaith Drone Network
The Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare grew out of two developments: the formation of the DC-based Interfaith Working Group on Drone Warfare with many faith groups participating in spring 2014; and the first Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare in January 2015 at Princeton Theological Seminary, facilitated by the Princeton-based Peace Action Education Fund. The Network is continuing the work in the faith community, seeking to deepen understanding and bring significant spiritual insight to that emerging major issue.

In a cooperative arrangement with United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis has appointed Dr. Sharon Tan as Eden’s Acting Dean for the 2018-2019 academic year. Dr. Tan serves as the Vice President for Academic Strategy at United Seminary and will take a leave from United to serve at Eden. Her responsibilities at Eden will include leadership of the educational programs, assistance during two upcoming accreditation visits, and furthering the strategic plans of both schools. United’s commitment to educate innovative and compassionate leaders has recently been strengthened by their plan to relocate to a new urban campus in Saint Paul. Eden continues a tradition of education for authorized ministries in the U.S. and globally, while exploring new leadership programs, particularly through the recently founded Walker Leadership Institute.
Leaders of both schools are open to explore opportunities for greater collaboration, including possible shared programming. Dr. David Greenhaw of Eden said: “For nearly fifty years, Eden and United have collaborated with United Church of Christ congregations and conferences in the Midwest. Continuing that collaboration and looking for new opportunities makes good sense. We are delighted to have a seasoned educational leader like Dr. Tan work with us this year.” According to United’s President, Dr. Lewis Zeidner, “Sharon Tan is an innovative and strategic thinker. We are glad that Eden will have the benefit of her skills during this period of transition. Finding opportunities for synergistic collaboration with Eden and Chicago Theological Seminaries are consistent with a long-standing tradition among the institutions.”
Working in a three-way partnership with Chicago Theological Seminary, United and Eden Seminaries have been part of the CUE Seminaries of the Midwest, Inc., since 1973. The mission of this partnership among seminaries in the region closely related to the United Church of Christ has been to:
• Strengthen the relationship between our churches and these seminaries.
• Further the mission and work of these seminaries.
• Provide financial support for these seminaries.
President Stephen Ray of Chicago Theological Seminary said: “These two schools are our strong partners, we are delighted at this moment of cooperation and believe it serves as the kind of creative collaborations we all seek.”
Dr. Tan holds both JD and PhD degrees from Emory University, and served as United’s academic dean before assuming her present position. She is a teacher and scholar in theological ethics, with specialties in Asian American Christian ethics, comparative religious ethics, justice, reconciliation and religious studies. Dr. Tan’s published works include the book, The Reconciliation of Races and Classes: How Religion Contributes to Politics and Law.