Newly elected United Church of Christ (UCC) General Minister and President John Dorhauer visited Elmhurst College on November 13 to meet with students, faculty and administrators, and local clergy.
During his daylong visit, Rev. Dorhauer met with Elmhurst Chaplain Scott Matheney and Coordinator of UCC Relations Kim Whisler-Vasko, local clergy and youth leadership, Elmhurst College faculty and staff, and Interim President Larry Braskamp. He also spent an hour speaking with a small group of Elmhurst students.
Rev. Dorhauer later tweeted that the best part of his visit was the hour-long discussion with students—a conversation that covered a wide range of topics, including white privilege, the gender of God, interpreting the Bible and LGBT issues.
During the student meeting, Rev. Dorhauer advised students to challenge intolerance by asking questions and helping others to take a less literal interpretation of the Bible. “The world’s not going to change if we remain silent,” he said.
Callen Williams, a junior from New York and a UCC member, said he found Rev. Dorhauer’s advice “knowledgeable, neutral and inspiring.”
Taylor Lutz, a freshman from Michigan who was raised Catholic, also appreciated Rev. Dorhauer’s insights.
“I took away some knowledge that I can use to engage people in discussions,” Lutz said. “He talked about how the Bible is not to be taken literally. It’s the translation of a copy of a copy of something that was written a long time ago, and even then it was written to be a metaphorical and symbolic [record] of experiences meant to inspire people spiritually—not a rule book.”
Elmhurst College is affiliated with the United Church of Christ as a full member institution, meaning that its values and vision are in line with those of the Church. Like the Church, the College stands for social justice and religious freedom, values debate and free inquiry, and honors the integrity of the individual conscience. All students at Elmhurst take at least one course in religion and theology, encouraging them to examine their own values and explore the beliefs of others.
Rev. Dorhauer closed out his meeting with the students by calling on them to continue their spiritual journeys. “Your job is to reshape the landscape of faith,” he said, underscoring the College’s commitment to religious freedom and the development of the human spirit.