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In June of 2020, The Board of Trustees and President’s Council of Columbia Theological Seminary announced Repairing the Breach: Deepening Columbia’s Commitment to Black People and Their Flourishing, an initiative to “critically examine its structures and create new models for education .” This initiative acknowledges the reality that Columbia Theological Seminary “came into being in the context of and participated in the subjugation and oppression of Black people” along with the affirmation that “today, Columbia Seminary condemns the violent, racist injustice that has been and continues to be perpetuated.”
One tangible expression of this commitment is , through the William Thomas Catto Scholarship, Columbia Seminary is fully funding the cost of tuition and student fees for all Black students who apply and are admitted to the seminary’s Master’s degree programs. Scholarships under Repairing the Breach have been temporarily funded out of existing undesignated funds. This was done immediately and in the short term in anticipation of long-term funding being established. Stepping out in faith in this regard has been the right thing to do but is unsustainable in the long run. Full endowment funding for the first of the Repairing the Breach scholarships will require $450,000.
In the summer of 2021, Columbia Seminary alumnus William Pender (M.Div, 1980) made known his sense of call to initiate and spearhead fundraising for an endowment fund to support the Repairing the Breach initiative by endowing a Repairing the Breach scholarship.
“I am named after a Confederate general; my father, grandfather, and uncles spent hours debating the military strategies of the Civil War without any consideration of what this nation would be like if the Confederacy had won. I want to support Columbia’s ministry AND widen the opportunities for theological education for a population whose ancestors’ loss through slavery was an economic boost to both Columbia and my family,” said Dr. William Pender.
The Alumni Council of Columbia Theological Seminary decided in January 2022 to join Dr. Pender in this initiative. The Alumni Council is calling on fellow alums to join in to raise the necessary $450,000 to permanently endow this scholarship for Black Columbia Theological Seminary students. As of June 2022, alumni and others have given $106,000 to this effort. We are well on the way to meeting the goal.