2012 Seminary Ridge Symposium Announced
(MAY 4, 2012) How could they do it? How could they survive it? If transposed to today’s population, during the four years of civil conflict, our predecessors annihilated each other in numbers that would add up today to 6.5 million dead Americans. Religion must be at least part of the answer.
“Increased Devotion: Religion and the Civil War” is the title of the 2012 Seminary Ridge Symposium, October 5th and 6th, at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. The symposium is under the direction of Dr. Kent Gramm, a widely recognized civil war author and scholar of literature.
Founded in 1826, by Samuel Simon Schmucker, a leading 19th century Pennsylvania anti-slavery church leader, the Lutheran Theological Seminary welcomed pre-war students from North and South seeking to obtain a theological education. Their instruction included sharing quarters in Schmucker Hall while discussing and debating the guiding principles of Christian life. Its placid grounds would become battlegrounds in 1863 when the war arrived and destined the institution and especially “Old Dorm” into the annals of the nation’s history.
This year the 10th Seminary Ridge Symposium is flanked by two significant events—the Groundbreaking ceremony for the Historic Walking Pathway/Rehabilitation of Schmucker Hall (Old Dorm)which took place on April 25th, 2012 and the Grand Opening celebration scheduled for July 1st, 2013 launching the completely renovated and transformed Seminary Ridge Museum.
Planning for each of these events has been going on for more than a decade. Seminary President Michael Cooper-White states that “For a dozen years, the Seminary has aspired to utilize our unique campus environment more creatively as a tool for ‘public theology’ and expanded national visibility.” When it opens, Seminary Ridge Museum will feature 4 floors of exhibits and educational displays which will expand on the role of moral, civil and spiritual debates that took place within the 19th century walls of the iconic building.
In the meantime, what might we learn about religion and about ourselves from our fellow Americans of the Civil War era? The 2012 symposium speakers include Richard Swartz, Dr. Pamela Cooper-White, Dr. Allen Guelzo, Dr. Leonard Hummel and Theologian Eric Crump who will speak on a variety of viewpoints and address widely different topics within the general rubric of “Religion in the Civil War.” Dr. Kent Gramm, Director of the Seminary Ridge Symposium notes that, “Americans of the 1860’s were religious in overwhelming numbers, a fact that Abraham Lincoln implicitly recognized by his use of religious thought and language in his great speeches.”
Saturday’s panel discussion will tackle important spiritual questions such as: How did chaplains comfort soldiers and help them kill each other? How did soldiers and civilians understand their religion? How do we justify our inhumanity, and comfort ourselves in crises? How are we like them? On a related topic, a cultural study of Gettysburg’s Ghost Tour phenomenon will also be explored.
Following the afternoon presentation, attendees will be given a guided tour of historic Seminary Ridge Museum which will not yet be open to the public.
You can find more information as well as the registration form online at www.seminaryridge.org. Or send an email with your name and mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a form by mail. Space is limited.