I continue to receive emails and calls--far too numerous to include in a post. Here is one I received yesterday--October 23, 2006--followed by those previously posted.
From a CRC minister
I just heard today about your situation, and read your website with horror. I can only say that the only response to this situation is grief. I grieve for you, for the seminary, and for Christ’s kingdom. I am sorry that you have been treated this way. It is inexplicable, as I consider the respect I have for you and for all those involved in this case.
Dr. Tucker, in my estimation you are a godly woman. I define godly, as being passionate about God, and dependent upon His grace. If godliness meant perfection, then I know that I would not measure up. That’s why I am so grateful for Jesus and His righteousness because I could never stand on my own.
Also please know that I respect you and loved having you as a teacher and a prayer group leader. The History of Missions class was great, but the elective you taught on “Revitalizing the Local Church” was the highlight of my time at CTS, and it continues to effect me today as a minister of a local church. Thank you. Moreover, the way you allowed us (the students) much input into the shape of our prayer group was greatly appreciated.
Congratulations on your marriage to John. I pray that the LORD will richly bless you both with great joy and much happiness.
Finally, I want you to know that what you have done as a teacher at CTS was not about a career. It was much more. What you did poured into the hearts and minds and lives of ministers serving in Christ’s name. The work that we do is for God’s glory, and you had a significant part in it. Thank you for your service, thank you for your dedication, and thank you for sharing your good gifts!
From a long-time administrator outside the CRC:
I read your postings and the supporting documents with great anguish of soul the day they arrived in my mailbox. Having done academic administration in graduate theological education for 20 years and having served as an evaluator for both NCA [North Central Association] and ATS [Association of Theological Schools] during that time, I never encountered anything like what you have been through. It is not only the complete violation of due process in higher education but it is simply unchristian as well. One cannot imagine that a faculty person would be treated like that in a Christian graduate school of theology. I must admit that I wiped my eyes many times as I read your document and then found my indignation growing as I reviewed the data you collected.. . . . May the Lord give you wisdom as you contemplate the next step to gain either closure or redress for this shameful treatment.
From A Former Student At Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
I am greived. As one of your former students at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School my heart for you, for those who have been blessed by your teaching & preaching. . . How tragic that at an institution dedicated to preparing Christian leaders, pastors, & educators we see demonstrated what not to do. How can this institution teach their students about about being Christ-like, about honesty, fairness, compassion, dealing with difference between believers or rebuking those who are wrong as Paul did to Peter when he was caught in in hypocrasy? . . . They say they want to produce godly lives at CTS & then live lives that are the opposite. My prayer is that individuals within your denominational structure will develop the Pauline guts necessary to address & resolve your situation, literally for God's sake, for the sake of the kingdom. This is further confirmation of what Ron Sider wrote about in the Scandel of the Evangelical Conscience, as well as what George Barna & others have reported about personal conduct among those who call themselves Evangelical or Born Again. Our conduct is not significantly different than those who have not embraced Christ. In this case, things are worse than in secular (godless?...where is God glorified in this at Calvin?) institutions where this kind of dishonesty, discrimination & character assassination would not be tolerated.
I say this not only as a pastor but as an adjunct professor for the last ten years. Keep standing firm. We love & support you. Keep holding them accountable. Whatever measures that need to be taken to have this addressed openly need to because these are leaders...if this is what Christian leaders do & get away with it won't be long until it happens at the church & pastoral level.
Dave Duncan M.Div TEDS 1996
From a current CTS student:
I found your blog by google searching. . . . I wasn't looking for anything in particular, just curious to see what I would find. . . . I just started at this CTS this fall. . . . I read your book Walking Away from Faith a couple of years ago--in the midst of a three-year struggle. . . . and it had a profound impact on me. I read a lot of books and don't remember much of what I read in the long run, but this book has truly stayed with me. It gave me a fresh understanding of the kind of faith I have, and that understanding has helped tremendously. The poem I am attaching (which I hope is not too much of a presumption) was a direct result of reading your book. What I really want to say is that I am grieved to read about what has happened to you, and I am sure that it is a great loss to my education. I would have liked very much to have been in your class.
From a recent student:
I just saw your story in the Grand Rapids Press, and I went to your website to read more. I wanted to write and say how much I admire you for "opening up" your case and speaking out against Calvin Seminary. I'm so saddened by what happened to you, but I'm glad that CTS is being forced to deal with its gender discrimination issues.
My entire time at Calvin Seminary . . . was plagued with gender discrimination--usually so subtle that it was hard to pinpoint why I felt the discrimination, . . . CTS felt very much like an "old boy's club"--and woe be to any woman who tried to break the barrier. I can very much understand how difficult it would have been for you as a "token" female professor in this old boy's club. And when I read your story, I was saddened--but not at all surprised--by what you endured.
My biggest hope is that CTS will take your "coming out" with this story very seriously and that it will address the problems you expose: 1) the need for gender sensitivity "training" and 2) the issue of having an administrator-run (rather than a faculty-run) seminary. I also hope that you receive some sort of SINCERE apology someday--and some true healing of the situation. All in all, "coming out" with your story was the right thing to do. Very brave, and very admirable.
From a current student:
As I've been back around the sem this fall, I've been wondering how you were doing. I am grieved by what I read on your blog. I am sorry that you have been so deeply wounded by the seminary which I love and, by extension, by the body of Jesus Christ.
From a recent grad:
I'm overwhelmed and terribly saddened to hear of your loneliness over
the years, and of course the injustices metted to you. Your situation
is something I was not aware of, and I'm ashamed for not inquiring or
Ruth, I am sorry to be part of a system which has so insulted you. I
will reflect, also with friends in ministry, what your experience means
for us in the CRC. Pray that blind spots will be opened.
From Calvin College:
After reading the story about you in the Grand Rapids Press on Tuesday, I have read much of your website HYPERLINK "http://www.ruthtucker.net"www.ruthtucker.net. I am persuaded by your narrative, documentation, and demeanor that you have been wronged by the seminary. How can I support you? . . . I, too, feel the intense Dutch culture at Calvin and in our church and understand (a small fraction) of what you have experienced at the seminary.
From a recent (female) student:
I too have been tremendously hurt by that place, and feel that people out there need to know the damage that is being done by that institution. I've seen them burn too many people.
From a minister outside the CRC:
I just want to drop you a short note of support. I am sorry that you are going through this experience. I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of the Christian Reformed Church. My ordination papers are with the RCA. I attended Fuller Seminary in the late 1970's . . . And I am a guy. My observation based upon my own experience living in a Dutch community . . . . "If you are not Dutch, you are not much!" For some reason these Dutch men have a difficult time dealing with outsiders like you (as a well qualified woman) and me as a male. Moreover, what bothers me is that they give all this lip service that they support women in ministry (teaching, being pastor/teachers...). However, when it comes to a particular woman (Dr. Ruth Tucker) they then take exception. My theory for what it is worth (most likely not much) is this: it is easy to believe in general that women should have full access to the full fledged ministry of Christ's church, but it is hard, if not impossible to accept a particular woman (Dr. Ruth Tucker) to be a full professor on equal footing with her male counterparts. I have learned that I must judge people not by what they say, but rather by what they do. In my humble opinion, the administration of Calvin Seminary receives an "F" in honesty and integrity. The students are not fooled. I am not fooled. And to add insult to injury, the last refuge of a dishonest Christian is to charge someone with being "ungodly". What a pile of dung! Please keep your chin up and your spirit high.
From a current student:
It is good to be in touch with you at last after the summer. I can't get used to your study at CTS being vacant. Thank you for 'going public' with your story. I know that you have told some folks about it, but it's about time that 'the world' heard what happened. We appreciated reading the full account on your blog and the article in the Grand Rapids Press. Once again, I'm shocked and saddened by what happened to you.
From a recent grad:
I just heard about what happened and I wanted to send an email and just say that I felt sick as I read what you've gone through over the past years. It seems like such a confusing thing and I'm sure I don't understand what has happened. But I want to let you know that I will be praying for you and that I am so sorry you have had to endure all this. I enjoyed you both as a professor and as someone to talk to around the seminary. It is always tempting for me to think of places like churches and seminaries as safe havens from the broken world, but this sort of thing is a painful reminder that Christians, even ministers, can be all too human. Again I am sorry. I wish I could say more, but I really am just at a loss for words. I would love to stay in touch.
From a colleague at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School:
I have read most of the blog and am appalled by what I am
reading there. But I don't have time now to digest it. I'll be back in
about ten days and will then take more time to read and think.
I am so sorry. You are a good teacher and a good Christian. I cannot
imagine the pain and suffering you have endured through this.
I'll write more later after I return. I am grieving for you.
From the head of a Grand Rapids based ministry:
Good morning, Ruth. I've read through your story at the link below. You've
been through a wrenching experience and I respect you more than ever for
handling it as you have. I think you're right to stand your ground - I hope
for your sake and CTS that something approaching reconciliation can take
place down the road.
A recent student, now a minister:
Wow, what a roller coaster. [Wife] and I have both said from the time we set foot on campus at CTS that there is an "aura of suspicion" there. If you're not like everyone else, then you must be in the wrong (maybe even "ungodly"?). Unfortunately, your role at CTS was much bigger and far more significant than [ours]. I am greatly disappointed in how all this happened, but am sadly not all that surprised.
From a recent student now in ministry:
I just read your blog and don't have adequate words to say how sorry I am for what you've gone through and how appalled I am at what the CTS administrators have done. . . . This is so devastating for you and for the school as a whole.
I, too, am sad that students won't get to learn from you and be forced to think by you! Your ability to present material and challenge students to address the gray areas of theology and ministry are such a gift and these are needed in a denomination that has the tendency to hide behind cut and dried theology.
Oh how my heart hurts for you, dear sister in Christ. May God bring you healing and work justice in this situation.
From a CRC “household name”:
Reading your blog--the story of your leaving CTS--is very, very sad, not only because it documents an awful story, but also because I remember [my influence on you in taking the position].
I feel very, very bad about what happened.
From a woman at a major university:
I am a Calvin grauate (had John for a professor--Yes. He was very good.). My husband is a graduate from Calvin Seminary. We feel we can relate with you on some levels and we know what a difficult battle you are waging. So, I suggest that you persist to tell your story and may you consistently feel the power of the love of Jesus in others. Hang in there and fight the fight.
From a CRC church elder:
I took the time to read everything on your web site and am glad to see that you have stood your ground with the Dutch "good old boys club." You were the "sacrifice" that should stir up the pot a whole lot. Hope that this episode doesn't reflect any ill will from any of us at [local church].
From an individual who gave permission to use his name
My good mother, Marian Texer, told me about the situation in which you find yourself. Then my dear sister, Gail Monsma, a student at Louisville Seminary, showed me your web site. So, I’ve spent part of this afternoon reading your account and thinking about just how helpless and blind-sided you’ve got to be feeling. Unfortunately, I’ve also been re-experiencing some of the bewilderment, frustration, and shame over my Dutch Reformed heritage that I used to feel often back in my days as a CRC member. . . .
I feel sad for my old denomination. How little progress has been made. . . . You seem to have experienced the full force of social norms, expectations, roles, and sanctions that maintain male ascendancy and fail to support and cherish the full participation of women in our “finest” institutions. . . . . Perhaps the saddest part of your account is the absolute lack of any indication that you ever experienced loving concern, prayerful support, collegial consultation, and even simple Christian charity in your groundbreaking role at CTS. Indeed, I was struck by the implied emotional isolation, alienation, and loneliness of your wandering in that wilderness. It was as if the guys just didn’t know what to do with you. . .
You have my complete approval to quote and post my comments in part or as a whole. My sister and I were speculating about how you must have felt as you walked past the portraits of male former CTS presidents. Were any there any portraits or other institutional acknowledgments of female “pillars of the church”, such as my Grandmother Grace Holtrop (Pels) and my great aunt Dora Smit who were missionaries in China, or Johanna Bos, who I believe was in Africa? Since your position was in missiology, I’m sure you were well aware of the ongoing failure of the CRC to recognize the powerful contributions of these women. And perhaps it would have helped to have their portraits hallowed in the halls too, just to help you feel warmly welcomed and to make it clear to male faculty and to all students and to all visitors that CTS was committed to leaving a past of unjustified and self-serving stereotyping and discrimination. This is the sort of thing to which a female CTS president might have been sensitive, but to which an all male faculty and administration was most likely oblivious.
Your appointment was a huge change for the seminary and the denomination, and you should have been ushered in with a little thoughtful institutional hospitality and clear signs of celebration. And I’m curious. Did anyone from the CTS administration meet regularly with you to make sure that you were feeling welcome, to plan for handling the predictable resistance to your role, to address negative reactions as they inevitably arose, to arrange for mentoring and support, and to facilitate your warm inclusion in the life of CTS? [The answer is no.] . . . .
As the old saw goes: Fail to plan; plan to fail. So, I’m saddened and angered, but not surprised, by the institutional sabotage that you experienced, by the clueless and spineless passivity of your colleagues, and by the end of an effort to be more inclusively and expansively Christ-like at CTS. This constitutes a massive denominational and seminary failure, regardless of any niggling debate about teaching styles, student comments, colleague opinions, chapel attendance, human emotionality, and lunchroom comportment. What a damnedable shame!
Best wishes and warmest regards to you and your family,
Brian R. Monsma, Ph.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
From a West Michigan CRC Minister:
My wife and I both read the entire document that you wrote about your experience at CTS.....I feel like anything I'm about to type here in this email will sound trite, but I just want to let you kow again that I believe in you and I benefited so much from being in your . . . class. There is absolutely no question about your giftedness as a writer and a teacher. It amazes me that you were still able to teach so well this past spring while going through so much emotional pain. I'm proud of you for bringing your experience out into the open. That's the only way that true healing and change will ever have a chance of coming about with CTS. I hope that it will. This is not a closed issue.
From the Head of a Dennomination
I read your post with great sadness. I don't know if it will be any consolation for me to apologize on behalf of "men who don't know any better" since I was in such a group years ago. Please know that we have been remembering you in prayer.
We have made good friends in our neighborhood who no longer attend the CRC. Sadly, they no longer attend anywhere and have not yet quite emerged from the fog of dissolution and the intense legalism that they experienced while in the CRC.
From a Recent Female Student now at Another Seminary
You have me thinking about the damaging silence that so characterizes Calvin Seminary in my mind. I remained silent while I was there, which is what crushed my soul to near nothingness. I never felt really free and welcome to speak what I truly felt and believed, unless it happened to fit into the box. Challenges aren't welcomed in that environment, even though in challenging and being challenged we grow. It never felt to me that growing was the goal--rather, fitting was what we were shooting for. To a point, that makes sense in the context of a denominational seminary, but on another level, it creates a closed and narrow place of exclusivity and covert hostility toward anything "other." . . . We'll see how they choose to listen. But if nothing else, you've raised your voice so that many people can see that those who are "other" are not being heard or given space at Calvin.
From a "Daughter of the CTC"
I have been following your story via your blog in the recent weeks. I met you on one occasion when you spoke to a small group at _______CRC about your book on doubt. I was a senior at Calvin then, and struck by your teaching and writing abilities.
I write to apologize on behalf of the CRC and to offer my support. As a daughter of the CRC I am grieved about the abuse you endured. As one who is called to ministry and has been rejected by my home CRC and struggled to stay in the CRC or leave, your story has further confirmed the deep rooted sin of sexism and rejection of women as imago dei.
Dr. Tucker, I have been praying for healing, for opportunities to share your story, and for peace and courage as you endure suffering. Please continue to write, and to make public your story...it is certainly a powerful witeness, and in my case has confirmed the toxicity of the CRC and her institutions. Thank you for speaking up, and for your decades of scholarship and commitment to the Church. May you find rest and support in the coming days.
From a Recent Female Student
I just heard what happened. How crummy. You certainly have not lost any of my respect. I treasure the knowledge that I’ve learned from you.