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Message from Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos: Vanderbilt will remove confederate inscription from residence hall

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 Dear alumni/ae and friends,

Many of you have seen my personal reaction on the Religion Dispatches blog to this summer’s ongoing violence across the nation and world.

I write now in my role and responsibility as dean of VDS—a community that seeks to engage in theological inquiry; help people prepare for the practice of Christian ministry and public leadership; encourage personal and spiritual formation; prepare agents of social justice; and educate future scholars and teachers, locally and globally. These words from our purpose statement are needed now more than ever as we must be active and involved agents in stopping the violence that has overtaken our society and is reverberating in many of our religious communities.

From the language of our school’s commitments, we “may often be required to identify issues confronting church, society and individuals that summon various groups within the school, or the school itself, to appropriate action.” We have not yet crafted a home on this earth where all lives matter, so we must do so as we approach our work and engage one another as we put into practice what we learn. This is doing the work our souls and minds must have to respond to the Holy's call in our lives.

We mourn the recent deaths. I invite us all to reflect and then get busy doing the work of justice in those spaces and places where we live. Perhaps then, we can stretch into larger and larger spaces and stop the violence that is shaping our lives. I plan to expand on this important issue at our opening Convocation Aug. 26 at Benton Chapel. Please check the VDS calendar for information on this event and other opportunities to engage this semester in Divinity School programs.


Emilie M. Townes

E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair
Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society

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