“Wake, Awake!” marks Gettysburg Seminary’s Last Day
On the night of June 30, 1863, Lydia Ziegler (one of the children of the seminary steward) spotted campfires of U.S. troops beyond Seminary Ridge. The Battle of Gettysburg would begin the next day. On the night of June 30, 2017, a group of students, alumni, faculty, faculty emeriti, staff, staff emeriti, and friends gathered to share an evening remembering Gettysburg Seminary’s history. Gettysburg Seminary would become United Lutheran Seminary the next day, consolidating with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Daryl Black, Executive Director of the Seminary Ridge Museum and his colleague Peter Miele asked the group gathered at the base of the Museum’s Peace Portico to turn around and face the hills where Lydia first saw the fires. On the other side of Valentine Hall, a fire burned near refreshments and lawn chairs to celebrate the crossing over into July and the adventures awaiting the new United Lutheran Seminary community.
Carrying a lantern, recent graduate Kelsey Fitting-Snyder led a procession from building to building to hear stories from past years on the campus. Norma Wood and Bill Avery launched the stories at Schmucker House followed by Sue Hill, who shared about famous author Elsie Singmaster across the street at Singmaster House, and Gerald Christianson, who talked about living in West House as a brand new faculty member. Then the group moved to the Seminary Ridge Museum where Black and Miele, in uniform, stood ready. The next visits were to the Refectory, where retired staff member Jean Hess (who cooked three meals a day for up to 80 students and lived with her family in the building) described her work and some anecdotes of campus life, and Lewars House (President’s Residence), where Kris Stuempfle and Pamela and Michael Cooper-White talked about powerful storms, bats, tennis rackets, hospitality, and family life as Gettysburg Seminary presidents.
The last stop was the Church of the Abiding Presence. A “Wake, Awake!” worship concluded with the singing of the Seminary Hymn, a blessing by retired president Michael Cooper-White, and pealing of the bells with champagne at midnight.
The event was organized by Mark Oldenburg, Dean of the Chapel, along with committee members Wendy Mizenko, John Largen, Martin Zimmann, Elizabeth Meighan, and Chelle Huth with support from Bea and Keith Schultz. Other worship participants included Patrick Ballard, Kelsey Fitting-Snyder, and Katie Russell.