The Community of Christ Seminary is solidly grounded in the Christian faith and shaped by its religious heritage and tradition. This tradition understands that God's will and purpose for the world and the church continue to emerge out of the process of faithful response to human need. We affirm that the people of God are called to live in community with all creation, and that peace and justice are the touchstones by which the gospel of Jesus Christ is enfleshed.
The mission of the seminary is to educate and prepare - through prayerful scholarship, teaching, service and mentoring - faithful, creative and discerning leaders for ministries in congregations, church and the world. "[S]eek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning even by study and also by faith. (Doctrine & Covenants, 85:36)
Thoughts from the Dean
In Response to the Tragedy at the Jewish Community Center, Overland Park, Kans., April 13, 2014
For the first time in a long while Eastern and Western Christians are celebrating Holy Week at the same time, even as our Jewish sisters and brothers commemorate Passover. Just as our cycle of holiest of days began, we were all deeply shocked by the senseless murder of three persons by an anti-Semitic bigot. Because the Jewish Community Center and the Jewish assisted living facility nearby embrace all people in the Kansas City metropolitan community, the victims were Christians: two United Methodists (grandfather and grandson) and a Roman Catholic.
This act of domestic terrorism raises many troubling questions about endemic mayhem in our society. We grieved the deaths at Virginia Tech, Aurora, Colo., and Sandy Hook. Now the plague of gun violence has hit us close to home. Many question why heavy armaments are so readily available to persons with unstable pasts. We also wonder why social services, law enforcement, family and neighbors have not detected the signs of rage that lead to such murderous outbursts. We are sickened by evidence that virulent prejudice persists in our society. In the ancient words of the Hebrew Bible we cry out: how long, o Lord? How long?
Yet immediately we were deeply inspired by signs of hope. The pastoral team at St. Thomas Episcopal Church instantly contacted their peers at Temple Israel, and they got the word out, allowing many to gather at St. Thomas Sunday evening for an interfaith prayer vigil. Incredibly, the mother and daughter of the lovely gentlemen killed outside the Jewish Community Center addressed the crowd, expressing her profound belief in life and love beyond the grave. Her strength and deep kindness have born remarkable witness to our entire community. Also, persons of all faiths were invited to gather at JCC for a memorial service.
Even as we weep, we experience a sense of joy as we realize that the separation caused by the centuries-long denigration of Jews by Christians has been overcome by solidarity. Differences that we respect and even celebrate persist, yet we mutually affirm a God of love who always finds ways to give hope in the midst of anguish, who does indeed turn grief into joy. Both Passover and Holy Week affirm these core truths. In this spirit, our community will not let hatred win. We will emerge from this traumatic event with even stronger communal bonds and an even firmer commitment to work arm-in-arm to stop the epidemic of violence threatening all of us. If we learn nothing else from the ominous news of this tragedy, may we realize that hatred targeted at any group has deadly consequences for all of us. We recommit ourselves to condemning prejudice, hatred and bigotry directed at any group of persons made in God's image. We will all work together to find ways to prevent such deaths in the future.
While we serve persons all over our common planetary home, we at Community of Christ Seminary of Graceland University are proud to be located in the Kansas City area. We accept the renewed call to teach respect for all religious traditions and all persons. We rededicate ourselves to be teachers of the ways of peace, reconciliation, and healing. Joining with all our wonderful colleagues and partners in this great city, we pledge to do our part.
To life and love!
Don H. Compier, Ph.D., Dean
Seminary Faculty in Ministry
Dean Don Compier's new book Listening to Popular Music was chosen for the "Best Books in Theology" catalog published by the Theological Booksellers Association.
Dale Luffman's book, The Book of Mormon's Witness to its First Readers, was published by the Community of Christ Seminary Press in April 2013.
Priscilla Eppinger led a workshop in September on hospitality and spirituality for the Graceland Campus Ministries retreat.
Dale Luffman received the John Whitmer Best Theology Article Award for the article “Absence of Women’s Voices: A Critique of the Book of Mormon Narrative,” published in Restoration Studies XII in 2013. His article, “Gospel and Empire: A Bible Study,” was included in a recent theological text published by the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches [NCC] entitled, Unity in Mission: Theological Reflections on the Pilgrimage of Mission. He presented a paper to the North American Academy of Ecumenists annual conference on September 28, 2013, titled “The Emerging Face of Being One . . . Discerning into the Ecumenical Community.”
Tony and Charmaine Chavla-Smith co-taught a New Testament introductory course in September for participants in the Studies in Advanced Leadership Training (SALT) program in Michigan. In mid-November they will teach an introductory course on the four gospels in southern Ohio.
Tony Chavala-Smith participated in an evangelists training event during the fall in Independence, Mo., leading a workshop titled “Resistance – Love – Hope: Journeying with St. Ambrose, Julian of Norwich, & Jürgen Moltmann.”
Charmaine Chvala-Smith will help lead a spiritual formation retreat in Redmond, Ore., in late October.
The Community of Christ Peace Colloquy in mid-October will feature workshops led by Tony and Charmaine Chvala-Smith, Don Compier, Dale Luffman and Brad Martell. Martell co-directs the event.