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Letter 35 | American Values Religious Voices

Letter 35

Paul W. Chilcote

Professor of Historical Theology & Wesleyan Studies
Ashland Theological Seminary

February 23, 2017

Dear President Trump, Vice President Pence, Members of the Trump Administration and 115th Congress,

Spiritual character defines us as human beings. The practice of virtues shapes communities, even nations, with hospitality standing out as one of the virtues that has become increasingly important in my life of faith. The shape of my own family—now representing four continents—reflects this virtue. Hospitality made this gift of love possible.

You may not recognize the name Jürgen Moltmann. He is a German theologian known as the father of the “theology of hope.” He once told me a story about his experience in World War II that shaped my life.

During the war there was a German prison of war camp in England. A young pastor and his wife served a small Methodist circuit of churches in the neighborhood. They were filled with compassion for the soldiers there and spurned to action. So they went to the commander and asked permission to take a prisoner with them to church each Sunday, and then to their home where they would share a meal. Surprisingly, the commander agreed. Sunday after Sunday, a steady flow of German soldiers worshiped and ate with the pastor and his wife in their home. This world famous theologian looked at me intently and said, “One of those soldiers was a young man by the name of Jürgen Moltmann. And I want you to know that the seed of hope was planted in my heart around Frank and Nellie Baker’s dinner table.”

I encourage you to practice this virtue of hospitality and weave it into the life of your administration. I believe all people today yearn for hope. An administration characterized by hospitality will sow seeds of hope, the implications of which are boundless, shaping immigration policy, relations with enemies and allies alike, and the way we look at people different from ourselves. I pray that our nation will be a table of hospitality that makes the gift of love possible.

Sincerely,

Paul W. Chilcote

Paul W. Chilcote, Ph.D.
Professor of Historical Theology & Wesleyan Studies
Ashland Theological Seminary

 

About the author

Paul W. Chilcote, Professor of Historical Theology & Wesleyan Studies at Ashland Theological Seminary, has been involved in theological education on three continents and helped launch two new institutions: Africa University (Zimbabwe) and Asbury Theological Seminary (Florida). A Methodist scholar and Wesleyan specialist, he is the author of nearly 25 books, including Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit, A Faith That Sings, and Recapturing the Wesleys’ Vision. He is a frequent speaker and workshop leader in applied Wesleyan studies, particularly in the areas of spirituality, worship, discipleship, and evangelism.