The Class of 2021 shares UPSem memories

  1. The Class of 2021 shares UPSem memories
  2. Living COVID While Black and George Floyd
  3. Reading Revelation through the Trials of Phillis Wheatley
  4. Black Religious Education and Public Ministry


It is my great joy to share about the next crop of BAA members. I have asked each of them to recount a favorite memory of their time at UPSem and to tell us what is coming up after commencement.

Jillian Lincoln Gatewood (M.Div./MACE)

Jillian Gatewood

One of the many things that will stand out for me is my time during the travel seminar to Central America. I was able to go with four other classmates from the Richmond campus and four classmates from the Charlotte campus. It was a great experience to be with such a diverse group of people and to really understand where Liberation Theology was born. You could feel the presence of the ancestors before you and understood even more how important storytelling is and remember those that came before us. The five of us from Richmond grew really close during that trip and are still friends to this day.

What’s next? Great question! I will have a wonderful summer hanging out with my current 9 1/2-month-old. I have been accepted to Union’s Th.M. program and I’m waiting to hear back from the Bridge to Ph.D. program at UVA. I would like to be a professor in ethics as Dr. Cannon encouraged me to do. I will also continue to create biblical scholarly curriculum for the church that I attend in Richmond.

Don Moses (M.Div.)

Don Moses

Diversity is not just something UPSem aspires to or a focus of conversation. I experienced it from day one as a student. I was a little concerned about how an African American with Baptist roots would be received before I arrived. Those concerns disappeared the first day of class.

My primary objective is to complete the ordination process and begin serving wherever God leads me. I will also be beginning the MACE next Fall at UPSem.

Leslie Oliver (M.Div.)

Leslie Oliver

I’ll never forget taking classes with Dr. Rodney Sadler and hearing him say, “There is no ‘Bible.’” My mind was blown by that statement and the powerful demonstration of its sobering truth, as he brilliantly taught it in his classes.

My goal is to launch a non-profit “creative motivation” movement that uses faith, creativity, and womanist soul to inspire worth in marginalized communities occupied by people of African & African American descent. In the spirit of Sankofa, I am taking the “light” of faith back to my people, with an intentional, creative, and womanist strut.

Serenitye Taylor

Serenitye Taylor

There have been so many fond memories at Union Presbyterian Seminary, memories that will go with me as I start this new journey. One involved participating in a Search for Identity class with Professor Brisson and Professor Galbreath. I begin this class unsure what I would learn about myself, but I have always been inspired and challenged by both professors, so I said to myself Sign me up! Our final project involved us studying some of the most innovative writers of the past and thinking creatively about how different views shape our identity. In my project I reflected on what I was taught as a child, the family members I was influenced by and my love and deep appreciation for dance. I was able to finally see how God was using all of me, all my experiences to shape my call into ministry. It was as if everything had come full circle. I think many of us enter seminary unsure and insecure about our ability. And I finally could hear God saying trust me and trust the process. I will forever be grateful for the class, the time spent at UPSem learning, and the professors who challenged me.

Now that I am free on Saturdays, I plan to take some time to rest and enjoy my family. I will be beginning a Pastoral Residency at Covenant Presbyterian Church beginning in May and working towards ordination. Something I will miss about Seminary is having the chance to be creative and express myself. As an extension of seminary, I will be launching a social media page where I will highlight different women on their journey and encourage all to find rest in God.

Darren Wilson (M.Div.)

Darren Wilson

One of the greatest memories I have from my time at UPSem is attending Dr. Carson Brisson’s classes. No matter how tired and stressed you are Dr. Carson knows how to lift your spirit and make the weekend enjoyable. One other special note about attending Dr. Carson’s class is the sending benediction that he gives after each class. His translation of the benediction is full of power. I feel God’s presence each and every time I hear it.

The next step for me is to continue working towards completing and passing all the ordination exams so that I may move forward with getting into Parish Ministry.

Flury Wilson


Flury Wilson (M.Div.)
As I look back over my journey at Union Presbyterian Seminary, I count it all joy. My heart is overwhelmed with praise over the fond memories I have of UPSem. From the early morning drives to learn from my astute, nurturing professors to Saturday afternoon chapel, it has been a wonderful journey in which I was encouraged to explore, examine, and experience God in a variety of ways.

My future plans are to successfully pass the ordination exams and explore Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).

Congratulations, class of 2021!
* Michelle J. Walker, Dean of Students