The Women’s Center wishes this class well. We hope that the members of this class remember their days at Louisville Seminary with appreciation and affection, and will have daily reasons to thank their professors and classmates for their preparation in theological reflection and application, practical action, prayer, compassion, and the various other formal and informal skills that people develop during seminary education.
Of course, we hope that the Women’s Center will have earned a place in those memories, too. Maybe it will be because of a thought-provoking word or image — maybe of street kids from last year’s presentation by Rev. Bob Gamble, or something about counseling parishioners with HIV/AIDS from a panel on National Coming Out Day, or a comment by JoAnn Rowan about the difficulty of connecting with leaders of faith communities to develop partnerships for working against violence against women. Maybe it will be an epiphany realized during worship, like what it means for a woman involved in a violent relationship to appear in church, as was dramatized during V-Week worship this year led by Dr. Carol Cook. Maybe it will be of relationships formed and sustained through conversation and common commitment. Whatever it is, whether small or large, we hope it proves its value in the years to come.
We wish these graduates of the Class of 2009 well. We pray with confident hope that as they endeavor to respond to the calls they hear, they will find their way to those places where their gifts will do most good, and where what they themselves need to flourish and grow is available in abundance. We want for them what we want for ourselves, and for everyone: happiness, freedom, justice, meaning, love.
Part of Commencement every year involves receiving various charges. We have no doubt that the ones this class will receive will be profound and valuable, and will frame vital last lessons with memorable grace. We don’t need to give one more here.
On the other hand, it might not be amiss as folks are packing away their textbooks and dusting off their robes to whisper a couple of additional practical reminders, the way a friend might as someone prepares to head off down the jetway to the next destination, ones we imagine others might be less likely to mention. So —
- Future preachers, please don’t forget to name violence against women from the pulpit as something the church needs to concern itself with, stand up against, and work to end.
Future worship leaders, please don’t forget that there are more names for the Holy God we worship and adore than “Lord,” and remember to use them in worship.
Future exegetes, please don’t forget that “the Bible says” is not supposed to act as a prop for unjust power and domination, but as a spur to living into God’s realm, a realm of justice and peace more radical than anything we’ve yet imagined.
Future counselors, please don’t forget to listen to women as real people with unique realities and possibilities to which no stereotypes will do justice.
[Easy to say, we know; harder to do, we know; sorely needed — we know, and trust you do, too.]
Godspeed, Class of 2009,
and may you always behold the beauty of the Holy One.