News from the Hill February 19, 2015 | back to index
Andover Newton Theological School — the first theological school in the nation — is first again. The historic school is the first to officially move the celebration of Lent. This year, it will be celebrated one week later. The reason? Snow.
In a proclamation that stunned the world of theological education, President Martin Copenhaver said, “Part of our mission as a school is to be ‘radically open to what God is doing now.’ Well, we have no idea what God is doing now, except this: Snow. Lots of snow. We have had to cancel classes on six days already — that’s already a whole week (minus Sunday, of course). In other words, we are already a full week behind. Therefore, we feel obliged to respond. Moving Lent seemed the least we could do. Might it be controversial? Yes, but we are not only the oldest, we are also the boldest seminary in the country. Here we stand. We can do no other.”
Copenhaver went on to outline plans for “Party Gras” on Tuesday, Feb. 24. In many ways the celebration will resemble the traditional Mardi Gras, which traditionally is celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. At the noon hour on Feb. 24 there will be a parade, music, food, and carrying on in other ways unbefitting a seminary. When asked for details, Copenhaver smiled and said, “Just you wait, Henry Higgins, just you wait.” He declined to elaborate.
Other school officials were asked about the wisdom of moving the holiest season in the Christian calendar. Nancy Nienhuis, who serves as Dean of Campus Life, was unrepentant: “We will do whatever we can to make our students successful. If that means moving Lent, so be it.”
Sarah Drummond, Andover Newton’s Dean of the Faculty, announced, “Having conferred with our faculty, I have determined we have suffered enough.”
Peter Chinetti, Chief Financial Officer, elaborated: "I'm fine with it."
The turkeys who reside on Andover Newton’s campus were not available for comment.
Copenhaver was asked about the implications of this action on the celebration of Easter. Would it be moved, as well? He replied, “It all depends. We can only respond to what God is doing now. What God will be doing six weeks from now is another matter. We’ll see when we get there.”
Andover Newton Theological School, founded in 1807, is the first graduate school of any kind in America. Always an innovator in religious education, Andover Newton is internationally recognized as a leader in interfaith learning.