Dean Moore: A Moment to Move!

Dear Beloved Community,

Welcome to a new semester and the new opportunities it will bring! The seismic shifts that are shaking our world make this semester a special moment in time. This is a MOMENT TO MOVE! We stand in an axis of history where everything we do matters, for good or ill. How fitting that the day that spring classes begin follows the day we have honored Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth, I am starkly aware that King’s life mattered; he recognized the moment to move, and he moved. On January 20, 2020, the world has never been more in need of people who move, and who do so by the forces of love and justice. In the Boston MLK Breakfast, Bishop Michael Curry reminded the full house that King’s work is not done; what is needed now is for human beings to trust in God and be like strong trees “planted by water” (Jeremiah 17:8). Curry concluded that people in this moment of time need to develop root systems that run wide and deep – wide to strengthen relationships and deep to find the nourishment to love. This is our challenge as we enter the spring semester: to strengthen relationships and reach deep toward the source of love and justice.

This moment is auspicious for me in a particular way because it is the last semester of my deanship in STH. I hope that, in a world of suffering, we can recognize this semester as a moment to build STH ever more fully toward a beloved community – that dances in the joy that runs through us, engages ideas that enlighten us, faces hard issues that grieve us, and builds relationships soaked in love and moving toward justice.

As I wrote on social media a few days ago, much has happened in this world during the winter recess. Earthquakes and aftershocks in Puerto Rico have killed at least one person, injured many others, left thousands homeless, and strained the already strained infrastructures. In the Philippines, 30,000 people have fled their homes in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption with another expected. Fires have swept across much of Australia, destroying animals and habitats in heart-breaking numbers, fueled by the effects of global warming. The United States has walked to the precipice of war with Iran. Five faithful Jews were murdered during Hanukah celebrations in a rabbi’s home in New York City, and the West Freeway Church of Christ in Fort Worth experienced the shooting of two members (one with family connections with one of our students) and the shooter. During the same days, the 2019 statistics are rolling in, marking a continued high rate of police shootings of people of color, with the proportion of African Americans shot being 2.5 times higher than that of whites and with high comparative percentages for Native American and Latinx peoples as well. The statistics for incarceration are dramatically disproportionate for the same ethnic communities and for people living with disabilities.

Faced with such destruction, this is a MOMENT TO MOVE! It is a moment to feel the pain of global urgencies, to draw deeply from the wellspring of God’s love, and to build relationships of justice in our immediate communities and far beyond. King’s voice still rings in the words inscribed on the monument we pass daily on Marsh Plaza: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” King penned those words in 1963 in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. He added: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” You and I still move in a web of mutuality, and the web will be shaped by how we live and move at this moment.

May this semester be a blessing to you, and you to those around you!

Mary Elizabeth