(Gettysburg) -- Union General John Buford first saw the advancing Confederate army from the cupola atop Schmucker Hall, on the campus of the Lutheran Theological Seminary. But when battle erupted all around it, the historic building was turned into a field hospital – caring for the wounded and maimed, regardless of whether they were wearing blue or gray.
“This building, in the midst of that battle, would be the locus of healing and crying and weeping and dying and consoling,” says Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, “and the distinguishing of Union and Confederate soldiers faded away because there was a common humanity that bound people together.”
Bishop Hanson says it’s a sign that humanity is deeper than the quarrels that divide it. Schmucker Hall is now home to the Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Museum. Part of its focus will include the debate over faith and freedom.
As we mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, and the Civil War that divided this nation, Hanson points to the relationship with the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights movement. “I hope the significant moments in American history we are remembering this year will be occasions for us coming together,” Hanson adds. He says religious voices too often polarize rather than reconcile.
Hanson helped cut the ribbon on the Seminary Ridge Museum, which will uniquely focus on the first day of fighting, caring for the wounded and the issues of faith and freedom during the Civil War.
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