The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of its most distinguished alumni, Daniel Alexander Payne, in a festival service of Holy Communion Wednesday, February 16th at 7pm.
The seminary will be joined by leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in celebrating the life of Payne, including the Right Rev. Richard F. Norris, Bishop of the AME Church’s First District, and the Rev. Dr. Leah Gaskin Fitchue, President of Payne Seminary. Daniel Payne served as a Bishop of the AME church and later president of Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio.
The evening service will take place at the seminary’s Chapel, 147 Seminary Ridge in Gettysburg and is open to the public. The event is a partnership between Gettysburg Seminary and Payne Seminary, the African Methodist Episcopal Church and area congregations served by current AME seminarians and alumni.
Driven out of South Carolina, Payne was welcomed in Gettysburg by the Seminary’s founder Samuel Simon Schmucker, and became the first African-American to receive a formal theological education in a Lutheran school. Payne studied in Gettysburg from 1835 to 1837 and engaged in ecumenical outreach ministries sponsored by Lutheran organizations for several years before becoming a leader in the AME church. Some call Payne “the Rosa Parks of the 19th Century,” in recognition for his courageous path-breaking lifelong work for civil rights.
The Right Reverend Richard F. Norris, Bishop and Presiding Prelate of the AME’s First Episcopal District, will Preside over the service of Holy Communion in the Church of the Abiding Presence here on the Gettysburg Seminary campus. Preacher for the gala worship celebration will be the Rev. Dr. Leah Gaskin Fitchue, current President of Payne Theological Seminary and a leader in many Church and public arenas. Choirs from LaMott and Bethel AME churches will lift their voices and lead us in giving praise to God.
“February of 2011 is a very special moment for our school and the entire Church in that it marks the 200th anniversary or bicentennial of the birth of Daniel Alexander Payne,” said Michael Cooper-White, President of Gettysburg Seminary. “This giant of the Church in the 19th century established a legacy unsurpassed by any other Gettysburg Seminary alumnus/a as he served as pastor and AME bishop, as well as founding president of Wilberforce University in Ohio,” he continued.
Directions to the Seminary may be found at www.ltsg.edu/About-LTSG/Directions.