A Letter From the President
"We must wrestle with our own self-doubts, privilege and power and oppressions. Those of us, like myself, who have been historically and presently advantaged by the systems of inequality based on race, gender, ability and the one hundred and one other criteria used to ascribe power and preference in our society, have to wrestle with our fears of losing our positions, prestige, privileges, preferences, and prerogatives.
“For those of you for whom this day is a step in your transition from amateur to professional wrestling, I encourage you to continue to grapple with your weaknesses and your strengths and to include your struggles when you preach, and teach, and counsel and lead."
-- Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, senior minister of All Souls Unitarian Church of Tulsa, OK
Dear friend of Meadville Lombard:
With great admiration, our school granted Rev. Marlin Lavanhar an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree at our 172nd Commencement on May 21, 2017. Marlin preached the sermon for the occasion. He did so with wisdom and candor, directly addressing the challenges our newly minted religious leaders face, especially now when all of Unitarian Universalism is taking up the summons to address the institutional culture of white supremacy.
I hope you will listen to or read the sermon linked here. His are important words that lend clarity and inspiration to the issues we face in this historic moment.
I am proud to say that the 29 people who received their degrees from Meadville Lombard are fully up to the task of providing the kind of leadership that Marlin Lavanhar knows is required. They will be serving communities in places such as Salt Lake City, UT; Bethesda, MD; Durham, NC; Boston, Concord and Essex, MA, San Diego, CA; Austin, TX; the Philippines; Longmont, CO; Evanston, IL; and Eustis FL; as well as the United States Military. Thanks to their hard work and the formation experience forged by our brilliant faculty, these new ministers are theologically savvy, skilled in the traditional services of preaching and pastoring, and equipped to lead with compassion in these complex and serious times.
Voicing the imperative for their decision in her Charge to the Graduates, Jacqueline Brett MDiv '17 offered a stunning conclusion to the Commencement service:
"...today we are...crossing the threshold of our new beginning. A new beginning that calls us forth to enter our voices, our Selves, our Being into this time of great global and national crisis. This time of great denominational crisis. This time when we must see to the needs of our planet, or risk not being able to see or be with anything at all.
...Let us go forth with the confidence that, We have been formed for this."
In all my years in Chicago, I have never felt more privileged to serve as Meadville Lombard Theological School's president. I am endlessly grateful to our students, alumni/ae, donors and friends whose support sustains us as we move forward. Unitarian Universalim needs our graduates. And we are delivering!
The Class of 2017