Friday, May 30, 2008

Occasions of Celebration

Here's the big news in our family these days:

Curran finishes kindergarten!

Well, here they are, Mrs. Stallard's kindergarten class at Lily B. Clayton Elementary School.

The cutie second from the left in the front row is my grandson, one of two of the best boys in the whole wide world.

This year he has learned how to read, how to write, how to work within a structured setting, and much much more. He stayed good friends with the two little girls he has known literally from birth, and made lots of new friends, including a little boy who was adopted from a Russian orphanage. He helped him learn English and in the process learned much himself.

And Gavin, who will turn 4 in July, continues to charm us all with his singing. I took this video on my phone. It is of him singing of "This lovely Planet, spinning through space. Your garden, your harbor, your holy place. Golden sun going down. Gentle blue giant, spin us around."

And then there is this:

Ms. Katie Sherrod receives Honorary Doctoral Degress from EDS.

This photograph shows [l to r] Mr. Kevin Johnson, The Rt. Rev. John Chane, The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston of EDS; Ms. Hellen Wangusa, Ms. Cynthia Logan Shattuck, and me.

May 25, 2008, CAMBRIDGE, MA – Episcopal Divinity School celebrated its 2008 Commencement Ceremony on May 15, 2008 at the First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Ms. Katie Sherrod, lay woman, received an honorary doctorate in recognition of her significant contributions to the struggle for a just Church and a just society. For 30 years Sherrod has worked as a journalist, writer, producer, commentator, advocate, and agitator to promote human rights, particularly combating the interlocking oppressions of racism, sexism, and heterosexism. In full, EDS conferred 39 degrees including 20 Master of Divinity, six Master of Arts in Theological Studies, six Doctor of Ministry, and two Certificates of Theological Study.

EDS was pleased to also confer honorary degrees on four other individuals who also exhibit distinguished and faithful ministries in social justice: The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane, Mr. Kevin Johnson, Ms. Cynthia Logan Shattuck, and Ms. Hellen Wangusa.

In the ceremony, commencement speaker, Ms. Hellen Wangusa, illustrated her strong stance in defense of issues of justice, reconciliation, and peace. Using the gospel story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well, Wangusa drew parallels between this conversation and current calls for reconciliation, stating “At the well Jesus not only transcends cultural, religious, gender, and other stereotypes, but he also empowers and inspires the Samaritan woman to transcend the stereotypes her society had long defined and sustained!” She continues, “It is a place of reconciliation: the woman was reconciled to herself first. She overcame the male designation of her identity and emerged as the first to break old barriers between two Communities! The longstanding “war” between the Jews and Samaritans ended at the well.”

In closing, Wangusa urged the graduates to find ‘thirsty people,’ to recognize identity, religion, history, roots, and culture, and the importance of ‘true worship,’ and its place as a means of forming their own ministry.

Sherrod was one of the five individuals recognized with the degree, doctor of divinity, honoris causa. “EDS is proud to have recognized our 2008 honorary degree recipients for their distinguished and faithful ministry in the areas of justice, compassion, and reconciliation,” said EDS President and Dean, The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston. “These principles are at the core of EDS as we work to develop leaders for Christ’s Church and the world who will serve all of God’s people. These men and woman stand with us. By bestowing the doctor of divinity degree on each of them, we celebrate five people of vision, integrity, and gospel courage.”

Ms. Katie Sherrod, freelance writer and television producer in Fort Worth, Texas, is an outspoken advocate for women’s reproductive rights, and for battered women.

“You are a pioneer,” said Nancy Davidge, Director of Communications, who presented Sherrod with her degree.

“Your seven part series on rape in the 1970s changed the rape laws in Texas and led to the establishment of one of the first rape crisis centers in that state.” Davidge continued, “Following your example, women in newsrooms around the country began to report about rape in a transparent and compelling way, and the rape crisis movement was born in no small part due to your efforts.”

In recent years, Sherrod has been a spokesperson for full inclusion of all the baptised, including lesbians and gays, in the work and ministry of the church, and for the mainstream voice of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Fort Worth.

“You don’t give up. Even when faced with verbal abuse, threats, and ridicule, you proclaim the Gospel message is for everyone, and especially for the least, the last, the lost, and the forgotten.”
The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane was honored by The Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas for his “Christ-centered commitment to justice with peace, in the Church and the wider world.” Chane was acknowledged for his work as a peace maker and human rights activist.

“You are a widely recognized strategic leader in Anglican Communion affairs, particularly dedicated to the Anglican Province of Southern Africa in their efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic.” Douglas continued, “Your commitment to peace and inter-faith understanding has involved you in major negotiations in the Middle East, specifically with President Khatami of Iran.”

Mr. Kevin Johnson, retired NBA player with the Phoenix Suns, businessman, and activist, was recognized by trustee Judy Conley, for his commitment to “children, education, and community development.” Johnson manages St. HOPE Corporation, a non-profit community development corporation designed to expand economic, education, and social opportunities for inner city communities in Arizona and California, and is the founder of St. HOPE Academy, an after school program for inner city children. In 2007, St. HOPE was recognized as “one of the nation’s leaders in ‘transformation high schools’ – the reinvention of comprehensive high schools to smaller, themed learning communities,” said Conley. “When not leading St. HOPE’s efforts, you speak regularly to universities and community groups on education, economic development, and public policy issues, as well as on the importance of being a good neighbor and giving back to communities.”

Ms. Cynthia Logan Shattuck was presented her honorary doctoral degree by Dr. Fredrica Harris Thompsett, “for exceptional contributions to theological publishing and scholarship.” Shattuck is passionate about her work, and an entrepreneur in the religious press business. She co-edited The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer with Charles Hefling, and has published the works of authors such as Verna Dozier so that their words are accessible to a wider audience. “Several members of this faculty are indebted to you both for your editorial guidance in our own publications, as well as to for publishing other volumes frequently used in our teaching,” said Thompsett.

Ms. Hellen Grace Akwii Wangusa was recognized by The Rev. Karen Montagno, Dean of Students and Community Life, in acknowledgement of her “prophetic commitment and passion for the Church, and international human rights.” Montagno continued to illustrate how her “focus has always been on the education and the economics of the vulnerable: women, children, poor and, indigenous people.” A native of Uganda, Wangusa helped found the African Women’s Economic Policy Network, Gender and Economic Research in Africa, and the Council for Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa.

“In a 2005 speech, you described the burden of ‘dehumanizing poverty that infests your soul and your body and your being, and exposes you to the vicious powers of this world,’ and stated that eradicating poverty is not a matter of charity, but of justice,” said Montagno. As Wangusa herself has stated. “Aim higher than the MDGs goals. There are no parables in the Bible where only half were fed. Jesus tells his disciples to feed the 5000 from what they had on hand. As the Communion, we have the fish and the bread.”

About Episcopal Divinity School
Episcopal Divinity School is a respected center of study and spiritual formation for lay and ordained leaders with a strong commitment to justice, compassion, and reconciliation. EDS, formed in 1974 with the merger of Philadelphia Divinity School (founded in 1857) and Episcopal Theological School (founded in 1867), offers doctor of ministry and master’s degrees, as well as certificates in theological studies. Located on an eight acre campus just a few blocks from Harvard Yard, EDS is a member of the Boston Theological Institute, a consortium of nine eminent theological schools, seminaries, and departments of religion.

It was a wonderful time. Cambridge was in full bloom with tulips and lilacs, so we got to enjoy Spring all over again. The best thing about it was that Gayland was with me.

I am very grateful for so much, for Curran and his brother Gavin, for Gayland's continued recovery; and for a church that is working hard to live into the Gospel imperative to love God with our whole spirit, heart and mind, and to love one another as God loves us.


Ann said...

Woohoo - congratulations to all the grads!

Padre Mickey said...

¡Felicidades! What a great honor, and you really do deserve it.
May God continue to bless you in all you do.

Caminante said...

I have been waiting to see these pictures!!! I have tears of joy in my eyes seeing you so rightly honoured. Praise God and may you continue to be the wonderful and prophetic voice you have been all these years.