School of Theology dean condemns recent racist behavior on Sewanee campus

Posted Mar 18, 2021

[University of the South] The Very Rev. James F. Turrell, dean of the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, released the following statement March 18 in response to recent racial indent on campus. He also was one of eight Episcopal deans who issued a joint statement on the same day.

I write in light of recent events at the University of the South that have been widely reported, among them vandalism directed at the Vice-Chancellor and his family and racial epithets hurled at an opposing team at an undergraduate athletics event last weekend.

Racist behavior of any kind has no place in a community of learning, much less in a community of Christians. I state the obvious, but sometimes the obvious must be stated for the sake of clarity.

The School of Theology has a responsibility to make its voice heard, to point out that because we are all made in the image and likeness of God, we cannot abide any behavior that communicates that any group of persons is “less than,” let alone the vile and racist language spoken last weekend. The behavior last Saturday disfigured the image of God in the perpetrators, and it disfigured this community as the Body of Christ.

Events like this call all of us at the School of Theology to dismantle racist structures, to educate and inform ourselves and others, to speak out whenever we see or hear actions or words that devalue the children of God. We must work to restore this community.

This will take time and effort, but the School of Theology is committed to this work.