Dean David Hempton on Ukraine Invasion

March 1, 2022
The flag of Ukraine flying in Harvard Yard.
The flag of Ukraine flying in Harvard Yard. Photo by Caroline Cataldo, HDS
The below message was sent to members of the HDS community from Dean David N. Hempton on March 1, 2022.

Dear members of the HDS community,

I write today about the Russian invasion currently underway in Ukraine. The images and reports are profoundly upsetting, with many people killed and injured and many more fleeing their homes, seeking safety underground, or being forced to defend themselves.

While these pictures and stories can be distressing, we must bear witness and speak up against what is a horrific act of aggression.

War takes a tragic and unacceptable toll on individuals, families, and communities. I know my thoughts, and all of ours, are with those suffering overseas, as well as with their families and loved ones.

Some years ago, I gave a talk a Memorial Church about harvesting peace. These recent events made me think back to that talk. I continue to believe that peacemaking is a spiritual discipline. It needs to be cultivated in our characters day by day, it needs to be practiced in our relationships and in our families, it needs to be represented on the public stage, and it needs perseverance in light of the many setbacks that are sure to follow.

To that end, I want to bring to your attention a vigil for peace that will take place tonight, March 1, at 8 pm, on the steps of Memorial Church. It will no doubt be a meaningful event to attend.

Also, please know that HDS has student support through the Office of Student Life and the Office of the Chaplain and Religious and Spiritual Life, through Harvard’s Chaplains, through the Employee Assistance Program, and through Harvard University Health Services.

David N. Hempton
Dean of the Faculty of Divinity