Pro-LGBT Lutheran Seminary President Unceremoniously Purged for Leading Ex-Gay Group 17 Years Ago
Less than a year after Theresa F. Latini was hired as the first president of United Lutheran Seminary in Pennsylvania last April, she was unceremoniously ousted from the institution of higher learning after news broke that she once led a Christian ministry helping believers overcome same-sex attraction. She left that organization in 2001 and has since sworn off the idea that LGBT people can reject their identities, but that did not save her from ideological cleansing.
United Lutheran Seminary (ULS) was formed in 2017, as a merger between two seminaries in Gettysburg and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Latini was named its first president last April. One of seven seminaries under the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the school affirms LGBT identity and apparently will brook no dissent, even if it came 17 years ago. For its part, the ELCA only recently took this position, in 2009.
On Wednesday night, the seminary's Board of Trustees decided to oust Latini and replace her with Bishop Jim Dunlop. Dunlop announced that he will serve as acting president until the board chooses an interim president.
Eight board members resigned immediately before and after the meeting to oust Latini, and the board hired a communications firm "to guide and assist in improving our long-term communication process." Also on Wednesday, the board announced it would fund an increase in "Pastoral and Behavioral Health services," the hiring of "a specialist in communal trauma to assist with healing, justice and reconciliation," and "a full outside audit focused on diversity, equity and inclusion audit [sic] within the ULS."
In its announcement, the board justified Latini's ouster as "based on the Board's concern that the ongoing controversy surrounding her naming as President made it extremely difficult to overcome issues related to trust as the President of this institution."
"I have been scapegoated by an historically divided institution resistant to unification, and have been given little chance to respond to the accusations against me," Latini wrote in a statement to Penn Live.
Latini worked as director of the ministry OneByOne, which aims to "educate and equip the church to minister to the transforming grace and power of Jesus Christ to those in conflict with their sexuality." The organization has a two-fold goal, to offer educational material and "to help create and/or support local ministries to those struggling with sexual brokenness, including but not limited to homosexuality."
Like the ELCA before 2009, OneByOne affirms the Bible's teaching "that all sexual relations outside of a marriage commitment between one man and one woman are contrary to God's plan for our lives." The ministry also emphasizes "God's unconditional love, forgiveness and redemption of all sin as we submit our lives to Christ."