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Seminarians “Being Church” in the Community

SAAN on Frankford Avenue

SAAN on Frankford Avenue

The newly formed Seminarian Action Alert Network (SAAN) is a student-led organization with no head or hierarchy. It was born out of a conversation between LTSP students Alex Zuber, Lenny Duncan, Dan Potaznik, and Micah Krey. The students had just responded to a call from the mayor’s office for faith leaders throughout the City of Philadelphia to respond to a hate crime against a local mosque with a show of solidarity. After attending the mayor’s press conference, this group of students noted that a method was needed to contact emerging leaders in the church at the seminary to respond to needs in the community. Students had been invited to the press conference, and some were able to attend, but for others — as much as they wanted to be there — the concerns of finals and missing a class had to be weighed against the outcry of the people. One student emailed her professor, who immediately excused the students from class. So the “problem” was seen as two-fold: how can we respond quickly in moments of crisis in the community, and what can we do to get seminarians out of the cloistered walls of the seminary?

SSAAN with packages of socks

SAAN with packages of socks

The “answer” is SAAN. It is an arm of LTSP’s service and outreach committee, but wishes to be more versatile than the current structures in place for seminarians to go out and “be church.” The group is gearing up to approach faculty about excusing members of SAAN from class if an action alert is sent out, and acquiring a mass text service. A first event already happened: “Rock Out with your Socks Out,” where socks were passed out in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood, specifically targeting those who are affected by addiction and alcoholism and living in various degrees of homelessness. A group of seminarians fanned out around the Kensington and Somerset neighborhoods and delivered close to 600 pairs of socks. The ELCA seminarians wore collars, and the local community responded by stopping in traffic to thank them for being a visible sign of the church’s care and concern for the “least of these”. Locked in service with our Baptist, AME, and Pentecostal brothers and sisters and fellow seminarians, it was a great day of service. It is hoped this becomes a “thing” at LTSP, and any support from alumni or local congregations is welcome.

For more information, or if you are interested in joining or supporting SAAN, please contact Lenny Duncan at lduncan@Ltsp.edu.

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"Centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia seeks to educate and form public leaders who are committed to developing and nurturing individual believers and communities of faith for engagement in the world."