November 20, 2018
To the editor:
When was the first time you heard the parable of the Good Samaritan? If you grew up in the church, you were likely young. It is a good first parable. It is, on first reading, a simple story with an easily understood moral. “Be like him, don’t be like them.” Later we realize the justice implications of Jesus cutting across cultural boundaries in his exegesis.
Further reading and life experience bring feelings relating to the various characters in the story. Some days I admittedly have been the priest or the Levite. Other days I have been the innkeeper or I may even have inadvertently been the robber. I hope that when called upon, I have more often been the Samaritan.
At the moment, I am relating to the man in the ditch.
Last week we learned that the Board of Trustees of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond decided it is time to close at the end of this academic year. Rarely is metaphor perfect, and I do not write this to say that they or anyone else is exactly like the robber in Jesus’s parable. Melissa Fallen, BTSR’s former admissions director who brought us together, has already reminded us to focus on the good memories while looking to the future. Nevertheless, the student body is hurting.
We will do our best to bandage ourselves up, but sometimes like the man in the story, we will need help. We still have two weeks and a semester to learn from beloved faculty, sing, cry and pray together. In the end, most of us will be looking to our neighbors to pick us up, and some of us may even need to be carried to the inn.
Fellow seminaries in Richmond; those in the Alliance, Cooperative, and Virginia Baptist traditions; and other friends across the ecumenical world: as we ungraduated BTSR alums wonder what comes next, I ask a question in the style of one of the best ministers any of us have ever known.
Won’t you be our neighbor?
Editor’s note: At the end of the fall semester, Crowley will be at the midpoint of his M.Div. degree at BTSR. He had planned to graduate in May 2021.