Statement on Lititz Pride Event

March 13, 2023

Recently, Lititz Moravian Church’s Joint Board rejected the use of a park owned by the church for a Pride event in June. Though we will never know all of the details of the Board’s deliberation, this decision has hurt, saddened, disappointed, and angered many, including LTS students, staff, faculty, and alumni colleagues. Many among us found delight and joy and belonging in the Lititz Pride event. We lament when spaces for celebration and affirmation of the wholeness of human life and expression are limited or denied. Aware that not all within the Lititz congregation support the decision of the Joint Board, we also offer prayers for members of that church community as they navigate disagreement.

Lancaster Theological Seminary is an open and affirming community. It has been for decades. It will continue to be so. LGBTQIA+ siblings are among the beloved of our community. This expansive understanding of belovedness is central to our mission to educate and nurture leaders to join in God’s redemptive and liberating work so that all creation may flourish.

Given Lancaster Theological Seminary’s recent affiliation with Moravian University and Moravian Theological Seminary, each of which have historic and current relationships with the Moravian Church, we also affirm that this position of inclusion remains both unchanged and shared by Moravian University and Moravian Theological Seminary.

The formal agreement to consolidate between Moravian University and Moravian Theology Seminary and Lancaster Theological Seminary includes a commitment to maintain LTS’s denominational connection to the United Church of Christ. In addition, and of central significance in that legal agreement, is a commitment, drafted by LTS members of the team, that reads this way: “The combined LTS and Moravian identity and culture embraces and values the diversity of all members of the community. We are committed to remaining an ecumenical, open and affirming, antiracist seminary that recognizes and supports persons of all races, sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions into the full life, ministry and sacraments of the church.” This remains a commitment of LTS that is shared and affirmed by Moravian University and Moravian Theological Seminary.

In addition to these commitments, the Moravian Church Northern Province is an open and affirming denomination. Its mission statement includes these words: “No matter who you are or how you identify, you are embraced and affirmed by God’s expansive love.” This holds true for the Moravian Church Northern Province alongside the reality that the denomination does not manage building and property use held by local congregations; those decisions are made on a congregational level.

To the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of LTS, we invite you to join us in prayer and action for the pursuit of justice in our classrooms, in our congregations, in our communities, and in our world. This is why we exist as an institution and as a people that God calls beloved.

The Rev. Dr. Heather Hartung Vacek, Dean, Lancaster and Moravian Theological Seminaries
The Rev. Dr. Vanessa Lovelace, Associate Dean, Lancaster Theological Seminary