McCormick Seminary's 181st convocation

09-14-2010 by

Geoff Ashmun
McCormick Theological Seminary celebrated the beginning of the academic year on September 8 in true South Side Chicago fashion

Distinguished Visiting Scholar Dr. Brad Braxton preached a progressive message about a God “beyond control but within reach” and led the congregation in a rendition of the traditional gospel song, “Jesus is on the Mainline.”

Pairing Joel 2 and Acts 2, Braxton asked, “Did you hear God’s open and affirming language?  ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh’ …

“No one can control God, but everyone can have access to God and God’s saving power. ‘Everyone’—this is a word dripping with grace. ‘Everyone’ is a word that is big enough to include you, and you, and you—and even a sinner, saved by grace and mercy, like me.”

Braxton’s inclusive message was fitting for the diversity of McCormick’s community, which on this night was seen in the faces of an incoming class with no racial majority and representing nearly a dozen Christian traditions. Nearly 60 percent of the new class is split evenly between European Americans and African Americans, while one-quarter are international students from Korea and Mexico. Five Asian American and four Latin@ domestic students have also matriculated.

“Did you hear God’s open and affirming language? ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh’ …

McCormick’s two new Master of Arts degrees are officially underway this fall. Two students have enrolled in the M.A. in Discipleship Development. Kay Coney is a member of the United Church of Christ and brings a background in business administration to seminary, while Arnold Hoskins is the Men’s Ministry Leader and Evangelistic Ministry Leader at his Seventh Day Adventist congregation.

Three students have enrolled in the M.A. in Urban Ministry. Jeanine Oakes is a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) with graduate education in theology, liturgy and film from Yale University, while LaKesha Peete, who has her B.A. in Communications and will be sharpening her skills for ministry as a member of Apostolic Church of God in Chicago. Darice Wright attends New Faith Baptist Church in Matteson, Illinois, and is deeply committed to improving the plight of marginalized people in her local community.

In her sixteenth and final convocation ceremony as president of the seminary, Dr. Cynthia Campbell remarked on the joy of convening in worship every September to celebrate God’s call to this unique group of seminary students.

“Every year, the McCormick Theological Seminary community is built anew,” she said. “The community that we are becoming today has never been before, and it will never be again. It is for this time.”