Open letter to Sewanee undergraduates from the School of Theology student body

All Saints’ Chapel at Sewanee: The University of the South. Photo courtesy of Google Images.

Dear Ms. Claire Brickson, Ms. Mary Margaret Murdock, and Sewanee Undergraduates,

We commend you for your courageous action and join you in solidarity as you seek to shape a more just Sewanee community. As seminarians of the Episcopal Church and your fellow students, we offer the following affirmations.

We believe that perpetrators of sexual assault must be held accountable for the consequences of their sinful actions. Forgiveness without repentance is cheap grace. True repentance requires amendment of life and restitution. There are occasions when sin is so notorious and public that, when insufficiently addressed, it tears apart the fabric of our communal life. Furthermore, we believe it is not appropriate for Sewanee to offer forgiveness on behalf of survivors of sexual assault.

We believe “we must confess and repent of those times when the church, its ministers or its members have been antagonistic or unresponsive to people—women, children and men— who have been sexually exploited or abused” (see here). We believe the church has a central role in upholding moral authority and seeking justice. We do not always get this right, and when we fail, we must confront the truth and commit to reconciling work.

We believe Ecce Quam Bonum, living in unity with one another, means that we all have a role to play in improving our campus’ sexual climate. As your fellow students, we are grateful for all of your efforts to create a safer and more reflective culture where all persons truly are respected and given dignity. We commit to working with you to realize this future.


Warren Swenson, Diocese of West Missouri

Mark Nabors, Diocese of Arkansas

Kellan Day, Diocese of Western Michigan

Hannah Pommersheim, Diocese of Texas

Polly Robb, Diocese of Alabama

Marion Sprott-Goldson, Diocese of North Carolina

James Yazell, Diocese of West Missouri

David Burman, Diocese of East Tennessee

The Rev. Arthur L. Jones, III, Diocese of Georgia

The Rev. Regina Brewster-Jenkins, Diocese of Louisiana

Allison Mackenzie Caudill, Diocese of Kentucky

The Rev. Janice Head, Diocese of Colorado

Susan Sanders, Diocese of Central Pennsylvania

Ryan Currie, Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast

Dr. Caroline Carson, Diocese of Louisiana

Garrett Boyte, Diocese of Western Louisiana

Stephanie Fox, Diocese of Arkansas

Melissa Howell, Diocese of Massachusetts

Noah Stansbury, Diocese of Pennsylvania

The Rev. Matt Farr, Diocese of East Tennessee

The Rev. Claire Brown, Diocese of East Tennessee

Walker Adams, M.A. Student

Holly Burris, Diocese of Mississippi

Brandon Hudson, Diocese of Arkansas

Nathaniel Darville, Diocese of Alabama

The Rev. Elizabeth Langford Farr, Diocese of East Tennessee

Melissa Kean, Diocese of Colorado

Bradley Bates, Diocese of Georgia

Nina Vest Salmon, Diocese of Southwestern Virginia

Leann Wigner, Diocese of Northwest Texas

The Rev. Sinclair Ender, Diocese of Iowa

Bernadette Hartsough, Diocese of Northern Indiana

John Simpson, Diocese of Southwestern Virginia

Caroline Holmes, C’17, M.A. Student

Andrew McLarty, Diocese of Mississippi

Michael Cannon, Diocese of Upper South Carolina

Murdock Jones, Diocese of Arkansas

Christopher M. Bridges, Diocese of Hawaii

The Rev. Melanie Rowell, Diocese of Atlanta

Elizabeth Harden, Diocese of Utah

Les Hegwood, Diocese of Mississippi

Kevin Antonio Smallwood, Diocese of Western Massachusetts

Cameron Spoor, Diocese of Texas

David T. Goodpaster, Diocese of Lexington

Maribeth Manoff, Diocese of East Tennessee