We at Dallas Theological Seminary want to be continually conscious of the sins of our past—both the sins of our American forefathers and those of the American church—and seek to speak to the injustices of the present. The trade and treatment of slaves was unrighteous and caused unwholesome and unnecessary divisions in the nation and within the church of Jesus Christ. Even after slaves were granted freedom, these divisions were perpetuated as men and women of color were denied civil rights in the legal system and equal standing in many white churches. Even after the great gains of the Civil Rights era, racism and prejudice continue 50 years later to permeate our society and seep into our churches.

This special chapel also gives me, as the president of Dallas Theological Seminary, a public opportunity to reaffirm our institutional apology for the racial sins of our own past. While beginning with bold and noble vision for theological education, even our early leaders, blinded by the cultural prejudices of racial segregation, were too slow to throw open the doors to invite and welcome students of color. Long after DTS began admitting minority students, we still have need to continue striving for full Christian reconciliation and mutual respect—the biblical order of the day. As individuals and as an institution, we want to denounce and repent of all forms of racism and ethnocentricity, whether explicit or implicit.

In the spirit of Nehemiah of old, we readily confess our own sins and those of our forefathers and ask for forgiveness for the suffering we have caused. We ask for your prayers, patience, and support as we continue our efforts to move toward a true and robust biblical vision for unity and community. Our vision for such has been articulated in our published document, Toward a Theology of Unity, Diversity, and Community and continues to be a pursuit via input from the Advisory Council to the President for Unity, Diversity, and Community and the prayer team that supports our efforts. May we who study and serve the Lord at DTS always celebrate our family identity and spiritual unity in Christ as the truest definition of our community, and, by God’s grace and our growth, may DTS become a reflection of that envisioned kingdom to come, that community of men and women from every tribe, tongue, nation, and people bound together to glorify our great God and His Son Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.