Letter from CTS Senior, Shelby Andrews:
One reason I chose Columbia over other schools was the community. The community of international students, faculty, and staff are one reason that I have stayed at CTS. The international and immigrant community here enriches our larger community with their passion, knowledge, kindness, and cultures. Yet time and time again, CTS does not value its international and immigrant community. While some may name the many institutional changes that have been made as “strategic,” I call them unconscionable. Our community here at CTS has taught me as much as our institution has. I have learned as much through potluck fellowships as I have from my classes. Jesus set the example of sharing meals and stories as a way of growing the church and seeking righteousness. In the meals I have shared with my fellow international and immigrant students, my faith and knowledge have grown.
I have been told that I want my degree from an “institution, not a community,” but that is only partly true. I want my Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Practical Theology degrees to come from an institution that takes community, justice, and equity seriously. I want my degrees to come from an institution that values the global church. I want my degrees to come from an institution that values, listens to, and learns from our international partners, students, faculty, and staff. And unfortunately, that is not what I have seen from Columbia Theological Seminary in the past couple of years.
I support the CTS CISA and their recommendations because I believe that God values diversity, imagination, resilience, inclusion, and justice in practice, not just in name. And I believe that CTS has some serious work to do if we are going to truly live into God’s calling to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.