June 8, 2020


Black presidents and deans sign statement around policing

MTSO’s Dean Valerie Bridgeman is a contributor and original signatory

MTSO Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs Valerie Bridgeman is a contributor to and original signatory of a June 5 statement by black presidents and deans of theological schools calling for policing reforms. The statement is signed by 15 presidents and deans, and cosigned by 42 black faculty members, administrators and intellectual leaders.

“We cannot and will not be silent while threats are continuously uttered by the highest political leadership in our country, nor will we watch the ongoing murders of Black people by police officers whose chief duty is meant to be ‘to protect and serve,’” the statement says in part. Its public-policy demands include:

  • The removal of military equipment from our neighborhoods as tools for policing.
  • The immediate work to create nine police reform initiatives as well as community oriented policing methodologies.
  • The immediate clarification by the FBI that Black Lives Matter is not a “black identity extremist” movement.

The statement also calls on the American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature “to place scholars of religion in conversation with mainstream journalists around the country so that the narratives around our lives convey truth and sensitivity.” It further calls on the Association of Theological Schools to “include on its agenda for its upcoming Biennial Meeting a time for the Presidents of ATS schools to discuss what is both the impact and theological work needed to address the consistent killings of Black people.”

“Black scholars and leaders in higher education don’t have the luxury of being silent,” Bridgeman said. “I joined this statement because I believe the work we do as educators is important for our spiritual life and for the common good of humanity. Violence at the hands of those who are hired to protect and defend us is an assault and moral injury to us all.”

The presidents’ and deans’ complete statement has been published online by Religion Dispatches, with an introduction by co-author Pamela R. Lightsey, vice president of academic affairs at Meadville Lombard Theological School. Lightsey delivered MTSO’s Williams Institute lectures in November. Video of her lectures is available online within MTSO’s events archives.

Methodist Theological School in Ohio provides theological education and leadership in pursuit of a just, sustainable and generative world. In addition to the Master of Divinity degree, the school offers master’s degrees in counseling, practical theology, social justice and theological studies, along with a Doctor of Ministry degree.


Danny Russell, communications director
drussell@mtso.edu, 740-362-3322