Dear Meadville Lombard Community,
The fall foliage colors in Chicago have been magnificent this year. I pray you are well and able to enjoy the wonder that Mother Nature brings to us.
In late August, we welcomed our students to our new campus for the first time. The Fall 2022 Convocation Lecture was delivered by Dr. Mike Hogue, Professor of Theology, Ethics, and Philosophy of Religion, on the book, Interreligious Resilience: Interreligious Leadership for a Pluralistic World, which he co-authored with Dr. Dean Bell, President of Spertus Institute. We also invited three activists and scholars for the panel discussion, Reproductive Justice and Community Accountability. The panelists shared their expertise and insights for this very timely, important conversation. Below are the recordings of the lecture and the panel.
And on Friday, October 7, we hosted a reception to celebrate the launch of the Leadership Institute for Healing, Growth, and Transformation (LIGHT). I would like to take this opportunity to share with you the highlights of the evening and emerging new possibilities.
We were joined by alums; Unitarian Universalist ministers in the area; the Chicago Foundation for Women’s CEO, Felicia Davis; the Executive Director of Community Renewal Society, Rev. Dr. Waltrina Middleton; and Rev. Antonia Coleman of the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference, among others. It was not only a celebration of this important milestone in the life of Meadville Lombard, but also a time to live into our mission of promoting UU values in the world. The launch of LIGHT is an important institutional step for us to embody what I understand to be central to our mission: the preparation of ministers and religious leaders grounded in UU theologies and values. Ministry is a lifelong commitment to vocations of service that necessitates ongoing practices of healing, growth, and transformation beyond the time of seminary studies. Through the work of LIGHT, we will be able to continue to accompany our alums in their leadership journey, and we can serve the larger UU movement by providing professional development opportunities. LIGHT also opens spaces for collaboration with organizations invested in strengthening the common good.
During this gathering, Dr. Kate Lassiter, Sr. Director of Lifelong Learning, shared the vision for LIGHT as a learning space where religious professionals can continue to hone their ministerial and leadership skills to better serve their communities and our shared world. Below are two examples of this work.
The first is the conference we co-hosted with the UUA’s International Office, “Post-Imperial Futures: Addressing Legacy and Living into Promise.” This three-day event gathered about 60 people interested in learning everyday practices of leadership that address the long reach of colonialism. The second is the first cohort of students enrolled in our Spiritual Direction Formation & Certification program this fall. The 16 students in this cohort include board members and officers of the UU national organizations such as UUA and UU Ministers Association, ministers, and religious educators. They are brought together by their understanding that spiritual development is essential in justice-making in the world. Rev Tandi Roger is leading this cohort. Her dream is to graduate 150 Spiritual Directors within the next decade. With deep excitement, she shared with those of us who were at the reception via Zoom, “We are just getting started.”
I make Tandi’s words my own: We are just getting started in this new phase of Meadville Lombard’s history. But any innovation emerges from and brings forth the best of its tradition. Meadville Lombard will continue to be unapologetically progressive, academically rigorous, and spiritually grounded. We continue to be committed to acts of service, to work for justice, and to develop leadership to make a difference in our times.
If you would like to know more about this work, or if you are interested in exploring ways in which you can partner with us or support us to amplify this work, I invite you to reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (312) 212-0666.
Elías Ortega, President