Cross-Cultural, Urban, Reformed, Ecumenical

Inaugural Address of Dr. Frank Yamada

02-20-2012 by

The Rev. Dr. Frank Yamada was installed as the 10th president of McCormick Theological Seminary on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at Apostolic Church of God in Chicago.

Several hundred guests witnessed the services in person and hundreds more online (video available here). The ceremony was historic for the Presbyterian Church as well as for McCormick; Dr. Yamada is the first Asian American called to serve as president of a Presbyterian seminary.

Unprecedented Diversity

With the theme The View from 2040, the newly installed President discussed the significance of future social changes and how these changes affect the ways that seminaries are called to prepare their students.

Dr. Yamada said, “As we approach the year 2040, we are heading toward a world unprecedented in its diversity.  Most census experts believe that somewhere in this time, certainly by the midpoint of the 21st Century, our census will tip, and we will no longer have a racial/ethnic majority in this country… If theological education and our churches cannot adapt to the realities of 2040 in all its complexity, in all of its rich diversity, seminaries are doomed to be an archaeological artifact, a volume best left in the long-term storage section of the archives of human knowledge, thrown in the $1 bin with all of the other bad movies of the 80s.”

Attached is President Yamada’s Inaugural Address in its entirety.  

Images from the Inaugural Events

Photo stream from "The View from 2040: The Futures of Theological Education"A Panel Discussion. 

Photo stream from the Inaugural Service

Video from the Inaugural Service.

Student Reactions to Inaugural Events

Dr. Yamada’s inauguration was truly fitting for the sea change his presidency of McCormick represents. Dr. Yamada is ordained in the PC(USA) and is president of a PC(USA) related institution, and yet both his social location and the context of the inauguration offer a hopeful alternative to the narrative often found in Presbyterian seminaries. The service deeply reflected Dr. Yamada’s dedication to the cross-cultural commitments we often speak of at McCormick, as well as the realities that 2040 will bring to us not only as church, but as society. -- J. Phillips, Senior

I felt like the theme of the inauguration was really poignant. 2040 is just around the corner and, like our institution, it's important to look to the future of our seminary, the church, and our society. So to look at the upcoming reality of what our world is going to look like, helps to keep us on track with our mission of preparing leaders to go into the world; we have to be realistic about what this world is going to look like. Having Frank as someone who is so forward looking can only help the ministry that McCormick is doing in moving us into the future to be relevant and to send out leaders into the world who understand what it means to be relevant in society. -- S. Donaldson, Senior 

President Yamada’s inauguration was a perfect example of McCormick’s community and our life together. The service emphasized the diversity of our community and also pointed to the tremendous scholarship of our faculty! Frank’s inaugural speech was a hopeful and prophetic call to see all the possibilities of theological education. I’m so proud to be a part of this community that seeks to creatively embrace so many voices and experiences in the church today and in our future together. -- A. Mohaupt, M.Div graduate, MTh student

In his inaugural address President Frank Yamada said that those of us in ministry and the training of ministers need to be engaged in “helping see our futures in the plural lest we die in our lack of understanding of each other.” Hearing those words was a great validation of the interfaith work that I have been engaged in at McCormick for the past three years as a DMin Student. Our new President is no doubt going to provide the prophetic leadership we need as we seek to deepen Christian expression in the varied and plural settings in which we minister. At this Inauguration our President declared that our future is to be diverse, playful, and faithful. The future is hopeful and bright at MTS.  -- Rev. Canon Kevin George, DMin – Class 2012, Rector of St. Mark’s by-the-Lake Anglican Church in Tecumseh, Ontario