October 15, 2018 Here is an excerpt from Bishop Dunlop’s resignation letter.
To the Board of Trustees and Bishops of Region 7 and 8,Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old, I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:18-19It is with a heavy heart that I offer my resignation from the Board of Trustees of the United Lutheran Seminary. I have been involved from the beginning of the process of the formation of this school. I chaired the transition team, served on the newly formed board and then this spring stepped in to serve as acting president. It has been a challenging process to bring these two historic institutions together. As with all transitions, people in leadership positions can become a lightning rod for issues and changes that were necessary. It may be wise for them to step aside when it is appropriate to allow new leadership to continue the work without the labels of the past. It is time for me to take that step. I have great confidence in President Green, his current leadership team and the board members.
The above portion of Bishop Dunlop’s resignation letter to the Board of Trustees was read aloud to the students by President Green in meetings on October 15 and 18. Bishop Dunlop sent the resignation letter to the ULS Board of Trustees on October 15, 2018. This was five days after the Timeline of ULS Racism was posted publicly, but it was not the first time Bishop Dunlop had an opportunity to address the contents of the Timeline. In addition to the many occasions in which individuals (students, alumni, and staff) asked for clarity, transparency, and right witness, Bishop Dunlop was present at the spring 2018 Urban Theological Institute board meeting in which students called him to account again for his words and actions utilizing an earlier version of the Timeline which was not yet referencing his acts as substantiated due in part to student claims being delayed. These delays and the Bishops individual acts were finally substantiated in July by CCI Consulting. All of the students requests, including requests that he address the race-based discriminatory actions of employees, were met with inaction, denials of his own words and actions, partial public apologies which were intentionally disassociated from his specific actions, and the utilization of students and their writings as a seemingly timely distraction from his pernicious discriminatory acts. We, as an institution of the Church, must do better than the example being left for us here by a Bishop of the Church.
It is only after Dr. Richard Green became interim President that faculty and staff who had substantiated acts of racism, prejudice, and/or discrimination in their files are either removed or resign, yet Bishop Dunlop, who had acted in similar fashion to these former employees was not held to account for his actions. Indeed, it seems Bishop Dunlop maintains a disassociation from his actions even after some have been substantiated by an independent third party. He makes no mention of these acts in his resignation. He references becoming “a lightning rod for issues and changes that were necessary” yet does not offer clarity for this claim. Was it “necessary” that he delay requests for racial justice and equity made by students and staff? What necessary changes are being referenced here? Students, alumni, and members of the ULS community certainly hope the Board will engage in adding clarity to the Bishops words and actions as a member of the Board and the Acting-President so that all students may see the Board as transparent and supportive.
ULS community members are respectfully requesting a fuller transparency from the Board, especially concerning Bishop Dunlop since it is substantiated that he acted in ways that may rightly be interpreted as harmful to students, the seminary, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as a whole. Neither the Board nor the Bishops of regions seven and eight have made a statement concerning Bishop Dunlop’s resignation. It may be that the Board and Bishops are in complete agreement with Bishop Dunlop: that he need not apologize for his acts in such a way to rightly associate his specific actions and might allow for future equity and the hope of reconciliation. However the Board and Bishops view his resignation and what preceded it, the community may yet benefit from the wisdom and insights of ULS trustees at this crucial time.
The utilization of institutional silence here is not a benefit especially when the acts are public and have been in the public eye since April of 2018. ULS community members are respectfully requesting that the Board offer greater transparency in its conduct including what it did or did not do in protecting the students and the seminary as a whole from the micro-aggressions and discriminatory actions of employees and Bishop Dunlop. One right step forward may be to address the areas of ULS policy voiced in the ULS Policy Survey. This announcement is part of the timeline of racism at United Lutheran Seminary