The Religion of Love

Rev. John G. Fee, along with his wife, Matilda, founded Berea College out of convictions grounded in a particular understanding of Christian scripture. Fee believed deeply that the words “impartial love” were the most accurate to summarize the Christian gospel found in the New Testament. And so it was this idea, the gospel of impartial love, that informed the identity and values of Berea College, making it the first coeducational, interracial college in the South.

Rev. Fee was educated, trained, and ordained in the Presbyterian Church tradition. He attended the Presbyterian Church’s Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, which was at the center of the abolitionist movement at the time. There, he became active with the American Missionary Association which was instrumental in founding many of the historically black colleges and universities, including Howard University in Washington, D.C.

While Fee would later come into conflict and eventually sever ties with the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky over his view that the church should refuse fellowship to slaveholders, one may be able to draw a connection between his theological training as applied to the major social issues of the day: gender equality and slavery.

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The Work of a Prophet

Rev. Loretta Reynolds

Rev. Loretta Reynolds

Dear Berea College Community,

At the beginning of this New Year and new decade (ok, I know there is some debate about that!), the staff at the Campus Christian Center would like to try something new.  We are starting a monthly blog!  Each month, one of our College Chaplains will share what we are thinking.  We hope you will find it helpful, perhaps even inspirational.  And, we would like your feedback.

I have to admit, this is my first foray into blogging so I enter with both excitement and trepidation!  But here are a few things I have been thinking about as we enter 2020.

I’m worried….about climate change, mass incarceration, the threat of war, the treatment of immigrants and what that says about the condition of the soul of our county.  I am concerned about the instability of our political situation, the destruction of our coral reefs and sea animals, what will happen in the election no matter who wins, and I’m worried about all of us who find it easy to fall into despair at the enormity of it all.  I find myself looking around for a prophet.  Someone who will come up with a clear plan and tell me what to do.

Traditional, stereotypical prophets, usually do have a clear plan but often it is a plan that most of us do not want to follow.  I don’t think John and Matilda Fee and the other founders of Berea College saw themselves as prophets.  Well, maybe they did, but I think they were just determined to act on what they believed, to their very core, to be right.  And yet, it was in the very living out of the call to promote justice and equality that they became what we recognize now as prophets.

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