5 African-American students to graduate


Two black students in Richmond and three in Charlotte will be graduating in spring 2018. Richmond’s commencement ceremony is May 19; in Charlotte, commencement happens on June 30. Both ceremonies are open to the public and it’s always meaningful to have alumni present. This year the Th.M. and M.A.C.E. degree programs are represented in the graduating class.


Graduating with a Th.M. is the Rev. Dr. Leonard Edloe. Leonard has had a long career as a pharmacist and has pastored New Hope Fellowship for many years. Edloe asserts that the most important thing he learned at Union is the conscientization process, taught by Dr. Katie Cannon that allows him to use theological resources to develop norm clarifications and strategic options. His favorite course was Themes and Problems in African American Theological Ethics. After graduation, Rev. Edloe will continue to serve as pastor of New Hope Fellowship and to teach Christian Ethics at the John Leland Theological Center. He has also written a book on the rural black church” and said, “I will be doing all I can to help breathe new life into the rural black church, using what I have learned at UPSem.”


Ayo Morton is graduating from the Richmond campus with the Th.M. Morton has worked closely with Dr. Cannon on the launch of the Center for Womanist Leadership (CWL). She is a spoken word artist who has graced the campus with her work while a student. She said the most important thing she learned while here is that her ministry, though not the norm, has its place in the world. When asked about her favorite courses, she said, “It is definitely a tie! The Slave Narratives course fed my work in a way that made me want to continue this journey toward incorporating authentic black sounds into worship. The Toni Morrison course allowed me to see the importance of fiction in Womanist work.” Morton plans to pursue a Ph.D. while continuing her work with the CWL. She said, “The propensity for the change the center offers aligns perfectly with what I have been called to do.”

The Charlotte graduates are receiving M.A.C.E. degrees.


The Rev. Sonjia Lee is the pastor of Unity Fellowship Church in Charlotte. She said, “No matter how much you learn, there is always more to learn.” Her favorite course was Theology and Literature. She noted that the course offered broad theological discourse in an intimate setting. “Dr. Carson Brisson challenged the students with thought-provoking readings and writing assignments that required deep introspection and critical thought. This was an excellent way to end the program!” And now that it’s done, she’s off for a vacation in the islands. Upon her return, she will collaborate with scholars from the Unity Fellowship Church Movement to design courses in religion and theology for their clergy and lay-leaders.


Barbara Smith is a teacher, composer, and singer. She has had a long relationship with Grove Presbyterian Church in Charlotte. She learned in the M.A.C.E. program that all persons have a voice in this world; and the importance of hearing the voices of professors and classmates in all the different courses. She knows now that God can use her voice to speak to this generation through His Spirit that lives in her. She will use this knowledge in a ministry that God has called her to start called “A Place for Prayer, International Ministries.” It is a ministry that will teach the Word of God and Worship God in song.  She said, “I am a singer and will continue to be so. I am excited to walk through the doors God is opening for me to serve.”


Letarshia Robinson will also graduate from Charlotte with a M.A.C.E. degree.

Congratulations to all of our 2018 graduates!