Latin's Split With Moody

Alice Bolandhemat  In years past, convocation has marked one of the only times where the lower, middle, and upper school students and faculty are in one space. Convocation, as well as commencement, has traditionally been held at the Moody Bible Church, just down the street from Latin. However, due to philosophical disagreements with the Moody Bible Church, Latin has decided to no longer hold convocation or commencement there. This came as a shock to many on Monday, just two days before convocation, when the news was delivered. Whether you have been at Latin for over a decade or are just beginning your second or third year here, many of us have been picturing our senior year graduation for a long time: wearing a black cap and gown, receiving our diplomas, and rejoicing with your classmates and family on the steps of the church following the ceremony. Moody’s president, as well as speakers and professors affiliated with the church, were among 150 of the signatures for the Nashville Statement, a document written by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It was published on August 30th. The document denies the acceptance of LBGTQ rights, including marriage. Articles in the document include “We deny that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship” and “we deny that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.” Protests occurred outside of the Moody Church following the signing of the statement. Moody’s support of the Nashville Statement as well as the protests that sparked because of it were brought to attention by certain Latin faculty members. There was talk of letting a group of Latin students participate in the protest, but there were too many unknowns. Many different church groups were at the protest, and it was unclear whether they were all for or against the Nashville Agreement. The priority was to ensure the safety of members of the Latin community– participating in the protest did not guarantee that. After researching more about the Nashville Statement, it became evident to Latin’s administration that, since Latin is an inclusive community where diversity is valued and the differences within our community are appreciated, it does not make sense to hold celebrative ceremonies at a place that does not hold the same values. This was explained specifically to seniors during an assembly time proceeding convocation. Ms. Rodriguez, along with Ms. Horvath and the deans, kept the senior class back to give them the news about their commencement. Although many people had already heard rumors about Latin’s breaking of ties with the church, Ms. Rodriguez eloquently provided clarification. She explained that Latin and Moody’s values and ideas of inclusion no longer align, therefore, it does not make sense to hold important ceremonies there. “My number one responsibility is the safety of our students, and not just physical safety,” Rodriguez said. However, it was made evident  that Latin supports Moody Bible’s rights to have their own opinions, as it is our right to bear ours. Ms. Rodriguez made it clear that this only has to do with Moody Church as an institution. She said that it’s “important to know that we still value [members of our community who belong to or work for Moody] as important members of our community.” At first, the seniors sat quietly. But when Ms. Rodriguez opened up the floor for questions, a sea of hands shot up, most asking about where the new venue for commencement would be. There are many factors that go into finding a different venue. The administration is rapidly looking for a new venue that, like Moody, will not restrict the amount of family members and friends that each student can invite. Additionally, Ms. Rodriguez mentioned that, if possible, they would like to stray away from a religiously affiliated institution. “We have students, faculty, and staff that represent different faiths,” Ms. Rodriguez explained “so if we say that we do not have a religious affiliation, why would we have commencement at a place with a religious affiliation? There is always the possibility that someone will feel uncomfortable.” The seniors were promised that the space would also be handicap accessible and inclusive to all. Nobody at the assembly raised their hand and suggested that we should still have commencement and convocation at Moody due to its relative convenience.. “There was always the luxury to be able to cross the street and just be there,” said Ms. Rodriguez. Although it was convenient, it wasn’t that simple. In an interview with Ms. Rodriguez, she further explained why it is important that we separate from an institution that doesn’t have the same ideals as us. “At Latin, we have students, faculty, board members, and alumni that belong to the LGBTQ community. If we are going to have our ceremonies at a place that doesn’t match up with our values, then we have to stop and be reflective about who is going to feel comfortable in this space” said Rodriguez. If Latin is paying a fee to use a space for ceremonies, it is important that it is a space that makes all of the attendees feel welcomed. There should not be any question in their minds about whether or not they will not be harmed for their beliefs and identities. “The money is provided by alumni, faculty, and parents, and I don’t think those who belong to the LGBTQ community would like to know that their money is going to a place that doesn’t accept them.” The Moody church has been slightly critical of several speakers that Latin has had in the past, but most of the decision to cut ties with the church sparked “from the the Nashville Statement.” It became a question of how many differences in beliefs it too many, and eventually, the time came where the relationship between Latin and Moody hit its tipping point. Although the process of ending the school’s relationship with the Moody Bible Church happened rather rapidly, it was a decision that required a lot of careful thought from the senior administration. “After being informed of what was going on, we met to discuss it. We were all sent copies of the Nashville statement prior to the meeting,” she went on, “we deeply talked about it, philosophically.” Regardless of how complicated the situation is, the administration is working to be as transparent in the process as possible. Ms. Rodriguez believes that the actions Latin took in these circumstances were our moral obligation. We cannot ignore that at any large gathering there will always be at least a small number of people who feels uncomfortable, but the goal is to make that number as small as possible.]]>