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August 28, 2013

Symposium on the Church, Justice, and the Community

Rochester, N.Y. — Northeastern Seminary gratefully acknowledges the 2013 establishment of the B.T. Roberts Symposium on the Church, Justice, and the Community by Dr. Norman and Nancy Wetterau and their family. The symposium will be held bi-annually and will be administered by Northeastern Seminary.

In conjunction with the Seminary’s Master of Arts in Theology of Social Justice degree, the student-organized symposium is designed to examine justice issues such as economic disparities, educational disparities, injustice in the legal system, and other systemic injustices. It is created to assist in bringing about change, including recommendations for the church's response to issues. The intention of the Wetterau family is to give seminary students the experience of investigating a specific issue and its relationship to theology and then of planning a conference around that issue so they will be better prepared to lead.

“Some people do not see injustice as specific things or part of specific problems, but more in terms of one class against another. It would be more helpful if specific problems or practices are examined beyond some theoretical framework as is common in some modern discussions of justice," stated Norman Wetterau. "Because of our democracy, we have an opportunity to speak out and influence change."

The symposium is funded by an endowed fund at the Rochester Foundation in Rochester, N.Y. and will take shape this year with program options that may include local and national speakers, a panel of experts, and collaboration with academic departments at Roberts Wesleyan College such as social work and criminal justice. As the Symposium matures future locations may include Northeastern Seminary's remote sites in Buffalo, Syracuse or Albany, or appropriate Rochester area venues.

Dr. Norman Wetterau was the first graduate of the University of Rochester Family Medicine Residency which emphasized the social aspect of disease and connections between mental and physical health.  His career path has taken him to the social aspects of disease, connections between mental and physical health, migrant health care, teaching medical students in his office, and services for substance abuse disorders. His interest in addiction medicine has led him to be a frequent speaker locally, nationally, and internationally. 

Nancy Wetterau, also committed to justice issues, stood in solidarity with a black choir at a political event during her college years.  She and her husband along with friends developed a community drug prevention program, which emphasized alcohol and drug free social activities and zero tolerance for teen alcohol or drug use.  As a high school Spanish teacher in Dansville, N.Y., she helped plan community-wide youth retreats and was an advisor for a foreign exchange program, Youth For Understanding, for 25 years—hosting 17 exchange students from all over the world.

During the past five years, the Wetteraus have gone to Burundi each year to teach at the new medical school at Hope Africa University.  Together they teach medical psychology to second year students, many of whom have suffered major trauma in their own lives. 


Since opening its doors in 1998, Northeastern Seminary on the campus of Roberts Wesleyan College has continued to grow in prominence as a significant resource for the church community in upstate New York. Northeastern Seminary is a multi-denominational graduate school of theology offering five academically and professionally accredited degrees: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Theology and Social Justice, Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership, and Doctor of Ministry.  The student body is comprised of more than 30 different Christian faith traditions represented among 180 students and 350 graduates ministering around the nation and world.  For more information visit or call 585.594.6800.