An Open Letter from Pennsylvania Clergy in Support of the Pennsylvania Safe Schools Act

Dear Representatives,

As clergy and faith leaders from across our Commonwealth, we ardently support the Pennsylvania Safe Schools Act (PASS Act). We are people of faith who have committed our lives to helping others find the light in each other. We call on you to adopt this legislation to help end the cruel violence and bullying that exists in schools throughout Pennsylvania.

Our faith practices teach us to seek inclusion, peace, and compassion. When students are safeguarded against violence, our entire communities are strengthened with respect and mutual regard.

With a shared foundation of benevolence and understanding we believe that it is a moral imperative to ensure all students have an education free from violence and bullying.

Our Commonwealth has a responsibility to our most vulnerable students. We are speaking out so that students are protected in school regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability. We can no longer pretend that certain students are not harassed based on specific characteristics. To allow any students to be targeted or made unsafe is a severe violation of the fundamental principle that we are all reflections of our Creator.

We have lost too many children who have ended their lives related to extreme bullying they faced. Their legacy compels us to ask you to prevent future tragedies.

Elie Wiesel once said, “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.”

As people of faith and citizens of Pennsylvania, we ask you to support the PASS Act to protect the youngest among us from school violence and bullying. This is not only a decision of policy – this is a decision of moral responsibility.

Signed,

Rev. Paul L. Lubold – Pastor, St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church of North Park | Allison Park
Rev. Nathan Baker-Trinity – Pastor, Beaver Lutheran Church | Beaver Springs
Rev. Dr. Donald R. Ewing – Pastor, Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon | Ben Avon
Rev. Dr. James E. Swanson – Senior Pastor, Covenant Presbyterian Church | Butler
Rev. Merry Meloy – Pastor, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church | Butler

Rev. Tedd Cogar – Pastor, Luther Chapel Lutheran Church | Coral
Mr. Gary P. Alsop – Church Council & Financial Secretary, Luther Chapel Lutheran Church | Coral
Rev. Mary B. Schmotzer – Pastor, Shiloh United Church of Christ | Danville
Rev. Ken Forbes – Pastor, Presbyterian Church of Dunmore | Dunmore
Rev. Shawn J. Clerkin, AOJN – Vicar, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church | Erie
Rev. David Edmunds – Pastor, Belle Valley Presbyterian Church | Erie
Ms. Julie Stecker – Associate Director of Admissions, Lutheran Theological Seminary | Gettysburg
Rev. Beth G. Lyon – Pastor, Glenside United Church of Christ | Glenside
Rev. Dr. Theodore H. Martin – Senior Pastor, Hampton Presbyterian Church | Hampton
Rev. Thomas A. Sweet – Pastor, Market Square Presbyterian Church | Harrisburg
Rev. Dr. S. Ronald Parks – Lead Pastor, Calvary United Methodist Church | Harrisburg
Rev. Betsy E. Martin Bruaw – Pastor, Church of the Redeemer United Church of Christ | Hershey
Rev. Eric B. Bond – Rector, St. John’s Episcopal Church | Huntingdon Valley
Rev. R. Don Wright – Pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church | Indiana
Rev. Donna M. Wright – Pastor, Redeemer Lutheran Church | Jamison
Rev. John Hartman – Rector, Grace Episcopal Church | Kingston
Rev. Craig A. Ross – Senior Pastor, St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church | Lancaster
Rev. Dr. Nancy Wolfe Timothy – Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Lansdowne | Lansdowne
Rabbi Rayzel Raphael – Rabbi, Temple Israel of Lehighton | Lehighton
Rev. Judi A. Dunkelberger – Pastor, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church | Lewisburg
Rabbi Serena Fujita – Jewish Chaplain, Bucknell University | Lewisburg
Rev. Paula M. Gustafson – Pastor, St. John’s United Church of Christ | Lewisburg
Rev. Beth Ann Lechtenberger Stone – Assistant to the Bishop, Upper Susquehanna Synod ELCA | Lewisburg
Rev. Dr. R. Charles Grant – Associate Pastor, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church | Lower Merion
Rev. John J. Ward-Diorio – Pastor, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ | Mechanicsburg
Ms. Allyssa A. Boyer – Director of Educational and Youth Ministries, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ | Mechanicsburg
Rev. Kathryn Z. Johnston – Senior Pastor, Mechanicsburg Presbyterian Church | Mechanicsburg
Rev. Susan L. Gabbard – Pastor, St. John’s United Church of Christ | Mifflinburg
Rev. Andrew Weaver – Pastor, St. John Lutheran Parish | Mount Pleasant Mills
Rabbi Anna Boswell-Levy – Rabbi, Tzedek v’Shalom | Newtown
Rev. Caitlin Glass – Pastor, St. Stephen Evangelical Lutheran Church | New Kingstown
Rev. Ann Keeler Evans – Minister, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Susquehanna Valley | Northumberland
Rev. Jesse Garner – Pastor, First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia | Philadelphia
Rev. Michael W. Caine – Pastor, Old First Reformed United Church of Christ | Philadelphia
Rev. Dr. Martin Lohrmann – Pastor, Christ Ascension Lutheran Church | Philadelphia
Rabbi Eli Freedman – Rabbi, Congregation Rodeph Shalom | Philadelphia
Rabbi Rachel Brown – Rabbi, Congregation B’nai Jacob | Phoenixville
Rev. Steven R. Garstad – Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Phoenixville | Phoenixville
Rev. Dr. Cynthia Krommes – Pastor, St. John’s Lutheran Church | Phoenixville
Rev. Randall Bush – Pastor, East Liberty Presbyterian Church | Pittsburgh
Rev. Dai Morgan – Pastor, Swissvale United Methodist Church | Pittsburgh
Pastor Robert A. Wilson – Pastor, First United Methodist Church of Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh
Rabbi Yaier Lehrer – Rabbi, Adat Shalom | Pittsburgh
Rev. Larry P. Homitsky – Lead Pastor, Calvary United Methodist Church | Pittsburgh
Rabbi Aaron Bisno – Rabbi, Congregation Rodef Shalom | Pittsburgh
Rev. Sandra K. Jones – Assistant to the Bishop, Northwestern PA Synod (ELCA) | Pleasantville
Rev. Dr. Marvin A. Marsh – Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church | Pottstown
Rev. Dr. Stephen Ohnsman – Pastor, Calvary United Church of Christ | Reading
Rabbi Brian I. Michelson – Rabbi, Congregation Oheb Shalom | Reading
Rev. Kenneth W. Longfield – Retired Pastor, Member, Holy Communion Lutheran Church | Reedsville
Rev. Amanda Range – Pastor, Salem Lutheran Parish | Selinsgrove
Rabbi Nina Mandel – Rabbi, Congregation Beth El | Sunbury
Rev. Robin Jarrell – Rector, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church | Sunbury
Rev. Annalie Korenge Lorgus – Pastor, Unionville Presbyterian Church | Unionville
Rev. Joseph D. Calderone, OSA – Chaplain and Counselor, Villanova University School of Law | Villanova
Rev. John Deegan, OSA – Director of the Peace and Justice Center, Villanova University – Province of St. Thomas | Villanova
Rev. Joshua G. Blakesley – Pastor, United Church of Christ in Warminster | Warminster
Rev. Michael Bush – Senior Pastor, United Church of Christ at Valley Forge | Wayne
Rabbi Roni Handler – Director of Community Learning, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College | Wyncote
Rabbi Alan LaPayover – Librarian, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College | Wyncote

Sign the Open Letter: Clergy for Safe Schools

There will be always be a footnote on this letter that the faith leaders who sign-on are doing so as individuals, and not necessarily as representatives of their congregations.

With your formal title (Rev., Rabbi, etc.)
Name of your Church, Synagogue, Temple, or faith-based institution
City name of where your congregation or faith-based institution is located