Striking Against the Culture's Divisiveness: A Healing Step 500 Years in the Making

January 31, 2018

On Sunday, January 21, a faculty member and associate dean from the Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry was ordained on this Jesuit campus. Ordinations are not a particularly rare occasion for students attending a school of theology and ministry since many of the students are preparing for some form of professional ministerial leadership. And yet, Dr. Michael Reid Trice was ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), with a call to a Catholic, Jesuit university context; and so even as the call is shared throughout the world, this particular call is rare.

Trice Ord230cropDuring the ordination service, Rev. Dr. Trice was officially installed and appointed in his call by the ELCA to his work as Associate Professor and the Associate Dean of Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue at the School of Theology and Ministry. He has served on the core faculty of the school since 2011. Bishop Kirby Unti, the bishop of the Northwest Washington Synod of the ELCA, assigned this newly ordained Lutheran minister to work officially in the name of the Lutheran Church on a Jesuit campus, while a Catholic president of Seattle University and a Catholic Dean of the school accepted and affirmed the mission.

The ordination occurred in the 500th year since the dawn of the Protestant Reformation, which was set in motion by an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther. This Luther-inspired Reformation had all kinds of unintended consequences, including setting in motion a series of events that resulted in a major schism in Western Christianity. Among other things, the ordination marked just how far Lutherans and Catholics have come in recognizing their shared Christian vocation and in affirming each other’s commitment to service in the world. “All baptized Christians are called to share in Christ’s ministry of love and service in the world, to the glory of God and for the sake of the human family and the whole creation,” Bishop Unti announced at the service. “Will you assume this office?” he asked the ordinand. This is a question, which women and men ordained to Christian ministry have received in one form or another through the ages. In essence: Will you dedicate to a life of service as an ordained minister in the Church?

Events like this are essential in a time where our culture perpetuates divisions and hard lines of demarcation, which negatively impact our values, our communities, and our families. The School of Theology and Ministry is founded on the belief that Christians from every walk share a common mission through an ecumenical heritage that begins in the first century. Students, staff, and faculty create a learning commons for people of all faith traditions and good will who seek a more just and humane world. So, a Lutheran getting ordained on a Catholic campus, within a context of demonstrated ecumenical leadership throughout the service, and as we endeavor together in a Jesuit environment . . . well, it just makes perfect sense.

“Seattle University recognizes the gifts of leadership wherever they are found, and celebrates these gifts with the religious communities that share the Jesuit commitment to the integrated mission of educating the whole person.” Rev. Dr. Trice said after the service. “I am grateful to be a Lutheran-Christian who serves in this University at the time of a half-millennium since the dawn of the Reformation. It’s a like-minded sensibility shared by many other religious partners in this place of graduate theological education.”

“What we did at this ordination and installation service,” the Dean of the school, Dr. Mark Markuly said, “flows directly out of our primary vision of the school. The school is a testimony to our hope and trust that our commonalities as people of faith, and as human beings, are at least as important as our differences. The Lutherans in this region are a cherished partner with the school for more than 20 years and this event marks a significant watershed in our partnership.”

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-Photos by Bruce Hutson