A Pastoral Letter to Hancock UCC

Regarding Andover Newton Theological School


Dear Friends,


Many of you are aware of a recent revelation by the President of Andover Newton Theological School, (ANTS). The Rev. Martin Copenhaver, who became the President this spring, has admitted to the ANTS community that he was involved in an extramarital affair of long duration. The affair came to an end before he came to ANTS. This revelation has shocked the Andover Newton community, and has prompted an on-going period of uncertainty.


Rev. Copenhaver is seeking forgiveness. The Board of Trustees of Andover Newton hopes that a period of listening and dialogue will lead to forgiveness, and most important, the reestablishment of trust in Rev. Copenhaver as President. A series of dialogues and open forums are being held at Andover Newton for students, alumni/ae, and interested others.


At this date, the outcome of these processes is not known. The ANTS community, including its president, is fully engaged in a discussion of these issues.


Hancock UCC has a long and special history with Andover Newton. One of our beloved Sr. Ministers, the Rev. Roy Pearson, left Hancock to become the Academic Dean of the seminary in the 1950s. Hancock was among the first churches to provide a setting for field education of seminarians when Andover Newton began that program in 1972. Through generous donation, Hancock members created the Hancock Fellowship program at ANTS, providing scholarship assistance for seminarians doing field education at Hancock. Three members of Hancock currently serve on the ANTS Board of Trustees. Dozens of seminarians from Andover Newton have learned and served at Hancock. And this fall, Hancock and ANTS entered into an even deeper relationship with the inauguration of our new Student Minister program.


Please know that whatever the outcome of this current crisis, Hancock has every reason to continue to be proud of our special relationship with Andover Newton. No matter what happens, the faculty remains first rate, the student body engaged in diligent preparation for ministry. Andover Newton is more than just one person, and much good and worthy work continues to be done.


I am glad to speak with anyone who has thoughts or questions. Please feel free to get in touch.


With prayers for wisdom,