The Meadville Lombard community was as busy as always at the Unitarian Universalist Association's General Assembly in Kansas City, MO.
On Wednesday, June 20, Meadville Lombard alums packed a room at a local restaurant and celebrated reunion. President Lee Barker, DMin ’78, DD ’01, reported their alma mater was thriving, and expressed his gratitude for their ministry. After welcoming new graduates, the Alumni/ae Association President Rev. Lynnda White, MDiv ’13, shared a letter from Rev. Yoshikazu Matsuda, who had graduated 50 years ago as an international student from Japan. Rev. Dr. Sarah Voss, DMin ’93, shared her reflection as a 25-year graduate. The 2018 Laurel Hallman Alumni/ae Service Award was given to Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons, DMin ’80, and the 2018 Distinguished Alumni/ae Award was given to her classmate, Rev. Dr. Ian Evison, DMin ’80, which prompted Kendyl to declare, “It appears that 1980 was a great year for UU ministry!”
Our booth was a bustling hub! Faculty and staff were busy answering questions from prospective students—how our programs work, what are the application requirements, what financial aid and scholarships are available. Members of congregations stopped by and learned about the Fahs Collaborative’s innovative curricula and programs that they could use in their communities, and found out that they could also use the resources in our library and archives for their research and learning. It was wonderful to see so many alums, current students, and supporters stop by to say hello.
Meadville Lombard faculty, staff, alums and students led a number of workshops and worship services throughout GA. Here are some highlights:
This 2.5-hour workshop started with a mock worship service that showed how white supremacy culture can manifest in many aspects of a worship service, and how we can help dismantle it. The Fahs Collaborative Director Dr. Mark Hicks, Assistant Director Joy Berry, Rev. Nathan Hollister, MDiv/MALS ’13, with Jamaine Cripe and Francisco Ruiz.
Thursday morning worship service was the first bilingual/bicultural service in the history of General Assembly. Three of our alums were among the worship leaders for this historical moment: Rev. Katie Romano Griffin, MDiv ’17, Rev. Tania Márquez, MDiv ’17, and Rev. Claudia Jiménez, MDiv ’18.
This year, 22 out of 67 ministers receiving preliminary fellowship were Meadville Lombard alums. One of them was our Regional Coordinator, Rev. Jon Coffee, MDiv ’17.
And our very own, the late Denny Davidoff asked for
This workshop by the Fahs Collaborative, sponsored by the DRUUMM (Diverse & Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries), provided People of Color a space to talk about their experiences in predominantly white communities. From left: Dr. Mark Hicks, Rev. Adam Lawrence Dyer, Rev. Jacqueline Brett, MDiv ’17, and Rev. Claudia Jiménez, MDiv ’18.
Rev. Dr. Mark Morrson-Reed, DMin ’79, DD ’07, Rev. Leslie Takahashi, MDiv ’04, and Associate Director of Library and Archives John Leeker presented how People of Color were erased from UU history and showed how we could begin to correct this injustice by creating historical memories in which all are remembered.
We were blessed with overflowing support, figuratively and literally: the large ballroom was filled to the brim. After a warm welcome by the emcee of the event, Rev. Dr. Diana Davies, MDiv ’17, Rev. Claudia Jiménez, MDiv ’18, offered a heartfelt Invocation. President Barker thanked the supporters and friends gathered early in the morning and remarked how they had helped the school not only to survive these tough times for theological education but to thrive, and how the more successful we become, the greater the expectations both from the supporters and ourselves grow. He then introduced his classmate, Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed, who was retiring from active ministry and from his affiliated faculty position at Meadville Lombard at the end of GA.
With tears streaming, Mark told the reason why he became a scholar and author of Black UU history: he needed answers to his confusion. He was confused back in the early 1970s when he was researching for his history paper and realized so very little had been written about Black UUs—he found only four sentences. After 40 years of research and extensive writing, he knows Meadville Lombard played a very important role. He said, “We really can’t talk about racial justice or racism or black ministers [in Unitarian Universalism] without reference to Meadville Lombard. It’s just not possible.”
Watch Mark's swan song in the video below. Read a transcript here.
We look forward to seeing you in Spokane, Washington, next year!
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