For the Road Ahead

A week ago, I finished up my time as a trustee for Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in the best sort of way - with commencement! What a joy to celebrate the incredible students who graduate from the seminary and all of the faculty, staff, family, and friends who have supported them along the way! This year was particularly special. First, along with honoring the 2022 graduates, we also celebrated the class of 2020 and 2021 who were not able to have in-person celebrations at the time due to Covid.

The other piece of this commencement that was so special was hearing Bree Newsome Bass provide the commencement address. Bree is an award-winning filmmaker, public speaker, and human rights activist. She has many accomplishments but is most often remembered for one particular moment in her life. It was 2015 and the lives of nine Black parishioners of Emmanuel AME Zion Church in South Carolina had been taken by a white supremacist. Bree scaled the flagpole in front of the South Carolina Capitol Building and took down the confederate flag.

As President Viera put it, "Bree Newsome made headlines when, in the name of Jesus, and quoting from scripture, she ripped down a symbol of hate from the South Carolina State House. Her action led to it being permanently removed from the South Carolina Capitol Building. She was also named by the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court to serve on a panel that would make recommendations on art displayed at the Supreme Court."

Bree was quite clear that her activism cannot be separated from her faith. At that point in her life, she had actively been praying and discerning what God might be asking of her. She'd found her own success as a filmmaker but could sense that there was something more she was called to. This was her message for us too. Are we listening? Are we open to the ways that God speaks to us on our varying journeys?

This week, we take a look at 2 Timothy, one of the epistles. The epistles were letters, often written to faith communities encouraging them to live out their faith together. In many ways, epistles and commencement speeches are quite similar. Join us this week as we honor our graduates, offer encouragement, and imagine together how God might be calling us, leading us into our future.

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