UPDATED: September 3, 2020
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
An Update on Our Response to COVID-19
COVID-19 is a global pandemic with national, regional, and local implications for how we live and work. Five months ago when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 virus a global pandemic, I’m not sure we could have imagined the magnitude of the disruption to our lives. Regretfully, this disruption is likely to continue in our professional, personal, spiritual, and economic lives for the foreseeable future. We have adapted and are adapting to a new normal on all fronts. I thank all of you for your willingness to do so for yourselves as well as your willingness to do so as an accountability measure to our students and your LTS colleagues.
This sense of accountability for our mission, students, and one another was apparent in the responses to the LTS Operations Survey. As anticipated, there is deep concern by LTS employees about returning to the campus in the midst of the pandemic. These concerns are universal with regard to the need for supplemental cleaning of the campus, consistent use of personal protection equipment (PPE) by all employees, strict observance of social distancing, continued support for remote work practices, and overwhelming support for online rather onsite January Intensives in 2021.
Based upon the survey results, LTS will:
• Hire a cleaning company to undertake supplemental deep cleaning of the campus.
• Maintain healthy at-work practices to support those electing to work on campus at least one to three days a week.
• Observe strict use of PPE while in common areas and strict use of social distancing on campus.
• Maintain remote work practices from Sep. 4, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.
• Conduct January 2021 Intensives in an online format.
• Close the LTS on-campus library to all external traffic until further notice.
• Reestablish Monday morning coffee and monthly lunches to supplement formal information sessions regarding campus activities.
The summer flex time will conclude on Friday, Sept. 4. We ask each employee to schedule a conversation with their appropriate supervisor to arrange a formal check-in day to maintain open lines of communication.
The seminary is responding to reports of escalating new cases of coronavirus in Kentucky, events as they unfold in the 26 states in which our students reside, and events that impact the more than 100 congregations that serve as accountable-learning ministry sites for our students. It is our hope the above measures will allow LTS faculty, staff, and students to better plan and adapt to their circumstances in this period of uncertainty.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we urge everyone to keep up to date with necessary health and safety precautions as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov. For information on Kentucky guidelines and testing locations, see www.kycovid19.ky.gov.
In the coming weeks, you will receive an invitation to join me online for our annual LTS luncheon and a conversation on measuring our progress and our hopes for FY21. There is much to share and discuss, and I look forward to doing so.
Should you have particular questions or comments about the steps above or want me to address specific questions during our conversation on measuring our progress, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Charisse L. Gillett President
Sunday, March 22, 2020
President Charisse L. Gillett addresses the question of how the seminary is responding to events surrounding the COVID-19 virus and global pandemic.
Link to the public Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/lexington.theological.seminary/videos/232775137867480/
Saturday, March 21, 2020
A Message From Our President
Dear LTS Community,
Here at LTS, we are praying for all of you and your families. I am also praying God’s blessings on our students and their families. I am praying for all who are leading and serving in congregations, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, businesses, and for our first responders. I am also praying to God for wisdom and strength to fill our leaders as they discern the best path forward.
A little more than a month ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 virus a global pandemic. In this new context uncertainty has become the new normal, and anxiety has become a constant companion. With this in mind, it is important to approach our work and ministry in ways that acknowledge and attend to the practicalities of working in this crisis, while also attending to everyone’s very real emotional and spiritual needs.
As a practical matter, the seminary is responding to events as they unfold in the 26 states where our students reside, and to events that impact the more than 100 congregations which serve as accountable-learning ministry sites for our students. Our students’ health and well-being is our primary concern. And for that reason, in consultation with our faculty, staff and some board members, I made the very tough decision that June 2020 Intensives will be moved from in-person to a virtual model. Likewise, June 2020 Graduation will be held in a virtual ceremony. Graduate candidates will receive their regalia in the mail. We are inviting graduates to select someone who has been significant in their academic journey to hood them in the virtual ceremony. Our 2020 Candidates have also been invited to return to Lexington to participate fully in our 2021 Graduation ceremony and festivities.
We are supporting our students in their ministries and in their personal lives. To that end, we are hosting Virtual Town Hall meetings next week to hear their joys and concerns and to answer their questions. We have offered counseling and spiritual direction to our students at no cost and are in constant communication with them.
Living in the time of a pandemic is difficult, but as a community of faith, we are called to just such a time as this. We are called to find God everywhere, in everyone, all the time and to point God out to others. We are called to experience joy in the midst of despair and to experience peace in the midst of suffering. Let us offer one another the connectivity of listening, the gift of laughter, and the serenity of solitude. Let us remind each other that what binds us together is the Living God. Let us remember and remind each other of the beauty and comfort present in our Holy Scriptures. I invite you to take a moment to read Psalm 46 and listen to the hope and beauty therein.
Breathe in deeply the spirit of God, friends.
is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty
is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Dr. Charisse L. Gillett, President
Friday, March 20, 2020
A Message from President Gillett and Dean Martell
Dear LTS Students,
Here at LTS, we are praying for all of you and your families, and indeed for our entire LTS community. I am praying God’s blessings on all who are leading and serving in congregations, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, businesses, and for our first responders. I am also praying to God for wisdom and strength to fill our leaders as they discern the best path forward.
We are living in extraordinary times. And while they are not unprecedented (such as the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic), globalization and increased population has exponentially exacerbated this pandemic. Yet, beyond all financial turmoil and viral infestations, one truth remains: God is. Above all things, God is.
Isaiah 41: 10 says, “Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God who strengthens you. I will uphold you…” As the world shakes, let us take strength, and be reassured that the God who called us into service, the God of whom we preach and teach, the God for whom we march for justice, has not walked away. God is.
It is in that faith and reassurance that LTS has moved forward and continues to move forward. As we have consulted with members of the Board, with faculty, administrative staff, and with students, we have come to the following conclusions:
- Intensives—The June 2020 Intensives will be held virtually using Zoom and Canvas. We have made this decision out of an abundance of caution for your health and safety, and in anticipation that travel may be quite difficult for some.
- Graduation— June 2020 Graduation will be held virtually via Zoom. Graduates will receive their regalia in the mail and may select someone who was significant in their academic journey to hood them. (More information to come.) 2020 Graduates will also be invited to return to Lexington, KY and participate in June 2021 Commencement Ceremonies and Celebrations (including Communion, Stand in Prayer, and Awards luncheon).
- Town Hall Discussion – We want to hear from you. Please join us for a Town Hall discussion regarding living in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic on Tuesday, March 24. 10:00-11:00 AM ET or Friday, March 27, 11:00-12:00 PM ET (Details below) We want to hear from you about how you are coping personally and in your ministry. Dr. Martell will answer your questions regarding your intensives, graduation, class assignments, and capstone projects. Ms. Windy Kidd will be on hand to responds to questions about financial aid and registration. Rev. Jan Ehranmatraut will be on hand to share information about our upcoming prayers services.
- Ongoing Support – Please feel free to reach out to Ms. Windy Kidd, registrar at email@example.com with questions about scheduling and courses or to Dr. Loida I. Martell, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org for any other questions. If you need to reach the dean quickly for a pressing issue or emergency, you can text her at 859-300-9979. If you need a time of prayer or solace, the Rev. Jan Ehrmantraut at email@example.com is available. Dr. Francesca Nuzzolese, Program Advisor for the MPS, who is a licensed therapist and trained spiritual director, has also offered her services free of charge. Please feel free to write to her for an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ms. Dominique Highfil, Instructional Designer and Technologist is available to help with issues with Canvas or other technology questions you have. She can be reached at email@example.com. We have a dedicated team of professionals at LTS who are here to support you, pray with you and for you, and to answer pertinent questions that may arise for you.
We are going to continue to work with our faculty and staff and ensure that those of you who wish to continue with your courses can do so, that those of you who need to pause can do so, and those of you who need extensions can receive them. The good news is that LTS already has the online and structural tools to deal with many of the issues and questions you might be facing.
As we move forward, as the world is shaken and panics, let us be Church. Let us be the living sacraments that witness to the living God. God is.
Dr. Charisse L. Gillett, President
Dr. Loida I. Martell, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Deano
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
To: All LTS students
The peace of the Lord be with each of you.
Most likely over the past few weeks you have been assailed with myriad reports from sundry
sources that have presented at times contradictory information. To that end, the President of
LTS, Dr. Charisse L. Gillett sent a notice last week via Constant Contact with helpful links that
provide information. I would strongly urge that you use the links for accurate information. You
will be receiving further notifications in the coming days as we re-evaluate some of the events
that we planned for the spring of 2020.
We are currently facing a world-wide viral pandemic with the introduction of COVID-19,
otherwise referred to as coronavirus, into a susceptible human population. As a result,
government leaders in many regions of the United States have been encouraging self-distancing,
and in some cases self-isolation. In light of increasing restrictions upon public gatherings, in
many instances, churches have deemed it safer to meet via virtual rooms rather than risk the
well-being of their congregants. Given that the LTS curriculum is congregationally centered, this
new reality has created some challenges. The President, Dean, and faculty of LTS are
recommended the following to all faculty:
First, that when merited, faculty permit requests for extensions (incomplete grades) according to
the policy stated in the Student Handbook, https://www.lextheo.edu/5-0-academic-policies-and-procedures/#5.6
We understand that many of you are currently facing challenges as you care for
children, families, parents, and others; and many of you are helping your congregations transition
to online formats or otherwise deal with the consequences of the pandemic facing so many of us.
Faculty have the option to provide extensions for students who are at the moment overwhelmed
with many of these responsibilities.
Second, if you are taking a course that has a “congregational assignment,” or if you are taking
competency exams or completing capstone exercises—each which has a congregational
component—then we strongly urge you not to complete these congregational activities in a
public gathering exceeding 25 people or where social distancing is not possible. Rather, we are
strongly urging you to complete the congregational requirement in one of two ways: 1) record
yourself preaching, teaching, instructing, etc. (whatever the activity calls you to do) in an empty
room; or, 2) use Zoom or other live stream media to fulfill the activity, and record it. We will
make Zoom accounts available to students completing capstone projects. For those completing
competency exams, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to see if any Zoom rooms are
available for your use.
LTS has been an online school for more than a decade (since 2010). We understand the
intricacies of what it means to be an online schoo and a community. We learned over the years
how one is a community in spite of the distances. Let us model that now for the world. Our
mission is “to prepare faithful leaders for the church of Jesus Christ and, thus, to strengthen the
church’s participation in God’s mission for the world.” Let us model that mission by living out
what we have learned in the classroom: to care for others in Christ’s love, to care for ourselves as
creation of God, and to embody the gathering of the community under the grace of God’s Spirit.
Be safe and be well.
Rev. Dr. Loida I. Martell
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean
Professor of Constructive Theology
Cc: Dr. Charisse L. Gillett, President