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Dear CDSP Friends and Community,
We are still reeling from the horrifying events in Newtown, CT this past Friday. We cannot make sense of it right now, and we barely find words to utter in prayer, or in support of those suffering most deeply. But Sunday, many found the courage to gather and to support one another rather than remain in isolation and despair. Gathered in the public space of Newtown were families and friends, community leaders, the President of the U.S., and clergy of many faiths that represented the people in the area.
As they gathered, the clergy did not ‘preside over’ the people, they prayed ‘with’ them and shared their grief. They prayed for wisdom and strength, recognizing their own needs along with the needs of others they will be serving in the days, months and years ahead. Surely they press on without sufficient words in their sorrow: “…we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…” Romans 8: 26
This tragedy reminded me that those ministering on the front lines in Newtown and in other crises include some of Church Divinity School of the Pacific’s alumnae. Let this become a moment of renewed commitment to the ministries coming out of CDSP, and to stay focused on why we are here, and focused on the world we serve.
It is in moments of immediate human need, as in the tragedy of Newtown, when the barriers that divide our faith traditions dissolve long enough to share a human bond, and an awareness of holy presence to strengthen us when we have no strength. We reach out in compassion beyond what divides us. This alone bears witness to the importance of staying focused on why a unique environment such as the Graduate Theological Union is so important in preparation for ministry. As GTU members, we interact daily with Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, as well as other members of the Christian community.
Let this event be a call for us to pray with special fervor this season, to reach beyond the usual to pay special attention to our children and those most vulnerable in our society.
The Very Rev. Dr. W. Mark Richardson
President and Dean
Church Divinity School of the Pacific