Lutheran seminary president ousted due to anti-LGBT past

Lutheran seminary president ousted due to anti-LGBT past

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The Rev. Theresa F. Latini was dismissed this week as president of United Lutheran Seminary amid protests regarding her past association with an anti-LGBT conversion-therapy group.

Bishop James S. Dunlop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church will serve as acting president until an interim president is named.

"Let me assure you, I will listen with an open mind and heart to the stories and perspectives of all the seminary stakeholders, including LGBTQIA+ members, our African-American members and any others who feel as if their voices are not heard," Dunlop said in a statement.

The co-ed seminary has about 325 students on campuses in Philadelphia and Gettysburg. It trains students to become professional leaders within the Lutheran church and to excel in the area of public service, according to its website.

Between 1996 and 2001, Latini served as director of a conversion-therapy group known as "OnebyOne," based in Pittsford, New York. In July 2017, when Latini was hired as seminary president, her prior association with the group wasn't publicly acknowledged.

On March 14, the seminary's board of trustees voted to dismiss Latini, effective immediately — after numerous students and staff called for her departure.

"This decision was made based on the board’s concern that the ongoing controversy surrounding her naming as president made it extremely difficult to overcome the issues related to trust as the president of this institution," according to a seminary statement. "With the understanding that there is much work to be done in healing and recognizing her significant value and gifts, the board recognized that her ongoing tenure would present a significant obstacle to moving forward."

The statement adds: "We recognize that this decision will not satisfy many of our constituencies, but our responsibility as a board is to make decisions that we believe will best strengthen and sustain [the seminary]. Through prayer, thoughtful discussion and active listening, we have reached the conclusion that ending our relationship with Dr. Latini will be the most positive approach to our process of healing and to the health and well-being of [the seminary]."

Eight board members resigned due to the controversy but 14 board members continue to serve. An exact breakdown of the March 14 vote was unavailable at presstime.

Latini couldn't be reached for comment. But according to published reports, she renounced her prior association with OnebyOne and subsequently supported LGBT rights. She also said "a politically-based whisper campaign against me and other members of the board" contributed to her dismissal.

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