Dear Eden Students, Alumni, Congregations and Community Partners,
God’s heart breaks. We join this heartbreak.
The past weeks since the Hamas terror attacks and hostage-taking in Israel on October 7th and subsequent war on Hamas by Israel with widespread killing in Gaza have been times in the Eden Seminary community of deep grief and renewed actions for solidarity with traumatized and oppressed people. We have seen this activated in our community and congregational networks, among alumni, and in our classes, worship life and faculty resources. We continue to pray and act for peace with justice- Just Peace.
The context of violence in Israel and Palestine is emerging as we speak. We see this not as a situation for unilateral statements that make a proclamation and move on, but for engaging in long-term deep relationships of solidarity and action. Here we share resources of the various ways and in various voices the Eden community is about that work.
With many people of Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith traditions, Eden Seminary reads our sacred texts to hold that the Sovereign God of all creation intends peace for the world. Just Peace – that comprehensive condition of economy, society, and culture in which the earth’s ample provision of resources is sufficient for the thriving of all people and creation. We grieve that the world God has made for peace, we have refashioned for war. It is in this context that we recommit to the work of Just Peace.
As a school of contextual teaching and learning, this moment matters. You, in Eden’s networks, classes, worship life are reflecting, preaching, praying, studying, and organizing. Eden’s curriculum goal to support commitments and build skills for interfaith collegiality seems particularly urgent in resisting the religious nationalism and extremism undergirding this violence.
Eden students are thinking theologically about the Israel-Gaza crisis in classes. In Professor Raquel Lettsome’s course Introduction to Bible, students are engaging how Christians misinterpret and interpret the stories of Israel’s Exodus and return from Babylon in ways that perpetuate violence and work for peace. Professor Sonja B. William’s Social Ethics students are examining their ethical positions and exploring how they put them into action.
In addition to teaching courses, Eden faculty are offering resources from the experience of various academic fields in the context of worship, teaching, and ministry.
- President Deborah Krause, and Professor of New Testament preached on Psalm 100 and Romans 12: 1-8 on October 8th.“This morning, following yesterday’s horrific terror attacks by Hamas on Israel, we see the specter of our national disease at play on the global stage. The pursuit of power without the fruit of love and compassion is violence-wrought at personal, social, national, and international levels. The garment of destiny we are wrapped in is war, at home and abroad. As ever, the people who will suffer the most are the poor, the marginal, and the vulnerable.”
- Dr. Raquel Lettsome, Professor of New Testament and Womanist Interpretation offers counter-perspectives on common (mis)readings and (mis)interpretations of Scripture. Read Here
- Dr. Clint McCann, Evangelical Professor of Biblical Interpretation reflects on multiple Psalms in light of the conflict. Read Here
- Dr. Kristen Leslie, Harold Peters Schultz Professor of Pastoral Theology and Care, has worked on projects for the U.S. Navy and the U. S. Air Force on matters related to sexualized violence, moral injury, and pastoral care with Millennials. She reminds us that these global atrocities put all deployable units of the U.S. military on edge because they could be sent at any any moment. Checking in on families is important as they prepare for worst case scenarios and experience significant family stress.
Additionally, Eden alumni, church and community partners are active.
- The Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza City attacked on October 19th is a partner of Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church Disciples of Christ and to other churches in Eden’s community and to the World Council of Churches. Attacks on other partners, including the St. Pophyrios Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza spark grief and condemnation. News and Resources here
- Leaders in many denominations of which Eden alumni, students and communities are part have signed a letter led by prominent Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Arab-American groups. The statement condemns all violence against civilians by Hamas and the Israeli military. Read Full Letter Here
The letter urges U.S. policy makers to:
- Publicly call for a ceasefire to prevent the further loss of life;
- Prioritize the protection of all civilians, including by urgently securing the entrance of humanitarian aid into Gaza and working to secure the release of hostages; and
- Urge all parties to fully respect international humanitarian law.
- An interfaith text study group with St. Louis Christian and Jewish leaders met this week and is gathering monthly on the Eden campus.
- “Just Peace” principles frame responses with the potential to make holistic and long-term change through the Just Peace hallmarks of (a) Friendship (b) Justice (c) Common security from Violence. Eden alum, Rev. Chip Jahn, emphasizes the efficacy of “non-traditional actors” including churches for Just Peace. His experience in war in Sri Lanka offers action steps in the current situation of conflict. Just Peace Principles and Story here.
- U.S. Congresswoman, Corie Bush (MO 1st District) who received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Eden Seminary in 2022, introduced a resolution to the House of Representatives calling for an immediate de-escalation and cease-fire in Israel and occupied Palestine. Resolution Here
“Holy and Merciful One,
In the face of evil
In the midst of terror
In the wake of trauma
In the shadow of unspeakable violence
We pray to you for the capacity to pray for peace.
Peace for people in Israel
Peace for people in Gaza
Peace for people all round this violent and shaken world.
In your sovereign, creative, and restoring purpose- Holy One- may it be so”
-Rev. Dr. Deborah Krause, President, Eden Theological Seminary, October 13, 2023-