Union Presbyterian Seminary celebrated its 200th graduating class with ceremonies on both Charlotte, NC, and Richmond, VA, campuses. Each event was an opportunity for graduates to reflect on their accomplishments while receiving some encouraging words of wisdom. The Rev. Dr. Robert Blumer of Sharon Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, NC, encouraged graduates to be wary of putting too much pride in their academic achievements, “Today, you are not descending from Mt. Sinai with the law, you are descending from your ivory tower to dwell with your kindred.” The cermony was held on April 12, 2012, at Sharon Presbyertierian Church, the same site for the near completed new campus for Union Presbyterian Seminary.
On June 2, Richmond campus graduates were addressed by the Rev. Dr. Lewis Galloway (D.Min.‘77), senior pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, IN. “Ministry is a life of abiding astonishment at the light of Jesus in one another, in this sanctuary, in our church, and in our world,” Galloway observed. “As educators, pastors and church leaders, we go into the world to point to the light.”
Graduates from both campuses expressed their gratitude for their time at Union while also being excited about their future.
“The graduation service was just the beginning of a lifetime of ministry and continued education in the church,” said Charlotte campus graduate Jeff Smith (MDiv. ‘12), associate pastor for middle school youth & evangelism at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC. “Now we are blessed with the opportunity to take what we’ve learned, build upon it and serve!”
“I’m grateful for my theological education and the Union Presbyterian community which embraced and nurtured me,” said Richmond campus graduate Miyhe Jang (Th.M. ’12), who will intern at the Asian American Ministry Center at UPSem. “Now, I can start my transition from school to ministry-assisting educational programs and services of Asian American students, pastors, educators and laity.”
The seminary also awarded its first ever honorary degree, a Doctor of Humane Letters, to Dr. Yeon Ok Lee (M.A.C.E. ’64), a tireless advocate for the ordination of women in the Presbyterian Church of Korea. As the seminary celebrates 200 years of equipping Christian leaders for the work of ministry in the world, Dr. Lee’s life of service is an inspiration to the graduating class of 2012. “Dr. Lee’s legacy will be in the training and education of students who go to serve having witnessed Christ work through her,” said President Brian K. Blount.
The seminary awarded 14 Masters of Arts in Christian Education, and 39 Masters of Divinity, three Masters of Theology, four Doctorates of Ministry, and six Doctorates of Philosophy.
As these recent graduates move forward in ministry, they were exhorted to persevere through the challenges facing the Church. “Class of 2012, the church needs women and men who are not easily intimidated by the task that lies ahead of them,” said Andreas Schule, associate professor of Biblical theology, Richmond campus. “The church dies when you don’t serve but want to be served. The church dies when you settle for mediocre rather than extraordinary.”