Dear Seminary Community,
At their meeting today, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to disassociate the name of Samuel Miller from the chapel. The Seminary’s place of worship will now be known as the Seminary Chapel. The Board also voted to create a task force charged with developing guiding principles and decision-making rubrics for naming, renaming, and conferring honor in buildings and spaces. This task force will include students, faculty, and alumni. For more information, please see the statement from the Board of Trustees.
This decision followed thoughtful deliberation by the Board of Trustees, and it is part of their commitment to the ongoing work of confession and repentance that was part of the historical audit on slavery. As a community, we are committed not only to keeping the legacy of our history before us, but also to continuing to make steps towards repair.
The Board joins me in being grateful for the prophetic voices of our students, especially the leadership of the Association of Black Seminarians (ABS). It has been a moving testimony of covenant community to see how diverse students united to lament the pain of having to worship in a chapel named for a slaveholder, opponent of abolitionism, and advocate for the American Colonization Society, which sought to send freed Blacks to Africa.
On behalf of the rest of the seminary community, I also want to express gratitude to the Board for its leadership in making a historic decision.
As a founder of this institution, Samuel Miller is, and will always be, a part of Princeton Theological Seminary’s story. We are not trying to remove him from our history. Yet the Board chose to disassociate his name from a place of tribute in the chapel, where the community gathers into the one body of Jesus Christ. As part of the historical audit, we want to ensure future generations will always know Samuel Miller’s story and the reasons why this generation believed that it was no longer appropriate to have his name synonymous with community worship.
The chapel is the spiritual heart of our community. Its welcome must be as wide and healing as God’s love for us. May God continue to guide us as we seek to worship in spirit and in truth.
M. Craig Barnes
President, Princeton Theological Seminary