Jennifer Rutter, M.Div. 17, is one of 13 seminary and divinity school students and early-career clergy chosen for the 2018 Seminary Program of the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) to participate in a two-week program in Germany and Poland this summer. The program uses the conduct of clergy and religious leaders in Nazi-occupied Europe as a way to reflect on contemporary professional ethics.
The FASPE Seminary program examines the roles played by the clergy in the Nazi state, underscoring the reality that the moral codes governing clergy of all religions can break down or be distorted with devastating consequences. With this historical background, the seminary fellows are better positioned to confront contemporary issues.
“The program allows me to be in relationship with different faith leaders and process our experiences together,” said Rutter, who is currently pastoral resident at First Baptist Church of Colorado Springs, Colo., “I hope these relationships will challenge words and ideas I have used unexamined and that it expands my own ability to communicate with my members.” A native of Tennessee, Rutter earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Belmont University in Nashville and was ordained to the ministry after graduating from Duke Divinity School in 2017.
In 2018, the FASPE Seminary program will be led by Fr. Steven Bell, CSP, who serves with the Paulist mission, and Rabbi James Ponet, the Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain Emeritus at Yale University.
Rutter joins a group of 64 FASPE fellows in programs for seminary, journalism, business, law, and medical students who were chosen through a competitive process that drew applicants from across the U.S. and the world. FASPE covers all program costs, including travel, food, and lodging.
The experience of the seminary fellows is enhanced by traveling alongside the medical fellows, who together—in formal and informal settings—consider how ethical constructs and norms in their respective professions align and differ. In 2018, the two groups will travel from June 16 through June 29, beginning their trip in Berlin and then traveling on to Krakow and Oświęcim (the town in which Auschwitz is located), Poland. In Berlin, the program includes museum visits, meeting with a Holocaust survivor, and educational workshops at the House of the Wannsee Conference, the site where state and Nazi Party agencies convened in 1942 to coordinate plans for the Nazis’ “Final Solution.” In Krakow, fellows will continue their seminars at Jagiellonian University, one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious universities, and at Auschwitz, they will be guided by the distinguished educational staff of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
After the program, each fellow will submit an essay focused on a contemporary ethical issue of his or her choice. Select essays are published in the annual FASPE Journal, which showcases work in all five disciplines.