CHICAGO (Sept. 21, 2016) – The board of directors of the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities has issued a statement condemning hate threats made against Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., and its president, William Jones.

Earlier this month, racist messages written in chalk were discovered on the Bethany campus. Following the incident, Jones received threatening phone calls from someone claiming responsibility for the messages and drawings.

The Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities comprises the 26 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America-related institutions of higher education. The network’s board of directors is made up of the institutions’ 26 presidents and an executive director.

The statement said:

“The Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities has watched with grave concern recent incidents at Bethany College. As the association of the twenty-six institutions of higher education related to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), we are compelled to speak in support of Bethany College, our member institution in Lindsborg, Kansas.

“We have learned that threats from a hate-group appeared earlier this month in chalked messages on campus walkways and in messages conveyed by telephone. These racist messages focused on the family of Bethany College’s new president, William Jones, and the two bi-racial children of the president and his wife. An increased presence of persons of color in the student body was also the target of this hate speech.

“We are diverse institutions in the Lutheran tradition, but we stand as one against these threats. With President Jones, we deplore these despicable actions that are, as he has shared, ‘disgusting and completely contrary to our core values and intellectual identity.’

“The ELCA Network of Colleges and Universities condemns the racist attacks and threats of violence made against the president, his family, and members of the Bethany College community. Such behavior is antithetical to human, Christian and American values. All people of good will should stand with us against the racism, bigotry and hatred that is at the root of these recent attacks.”

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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.7 million members in more than 9,300 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God’s work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA’s roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.


Candice Hill Buchbinder
Hill Buchbinder is the ELCA public relations manager.

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