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President Thompson receives honorary degree from Centre College

Feb 04, 2005

Historic relations with Centre College celebrated, President Thompson receives honorary degree

Dean K. Thompson, eighth president of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary delivered the keynote address at Centre College’s 2005 Founders Day ceremony on Wednesday, Jan. 19. The event, held in the Norton Center for the Arts, was intended to remind the student body of the school’s heritage and the gifts of others that helped to pave the way before them. As Centre’s President John A. Roush expressed to the student body, “It is important for you to know how your college found its way to this day.”

The subject of Thompson’s address was Martin Luther King Jr.: America’s Moses. Thompson spoke of a profound kind of leadership that provides a vision for a better way, and yet, that vision may not be realized during the leader’s lifetime. In describing this kind of leader, he spoke of the Biblical Moses, who would lead the Israelites in the desert for forty years, but never enter the Promised Land. Thompson said that like Moses, Martin Luther King Jr. led us toward a vision of promise, a better way for all people, knowing he would not experience the promise in his lifetime. “Sometimes, that is the sacred meaning of human leadership,” said Thompson to an assembly of more than 200 young citizens.

As part of the Founder’s Day celebration, Centre College’s Board of Trustees conferred upon Thompson an honorary Doctorate of Divinity. Rousch presented the degree saying, “Centre College today honors your lifelong dedication to parish ministry, community outreach, racial and cultural diversity, and theological education. Whether serving as a pastor of a local congregation or as a teacher of future ministers, you have always been an exemplary nurturer and leader of your church. You stand as a shining example of what is meant in Corinthians by a ‘steward of the mysteries of God.’”

Founders Day is an annual celebration commemorating Centre’s receiving its charter from the Kentucky Legislature on Jan. 21, 1819. This year’s Founders Day also represented a homecoming of sorts, in that Louisville Seminary actually had its beginnings in Danville in 1853, when three professors and 26 students met for theological instruction and ministerial training. The Seminary’s first classes were held in Old Centre, and in later years, Centre faculty would also teach in the seminary. Breckinridge Hall at Centre was originally built by the Seminary and named for Robert Breckinridge, a founder and long-time Seminary professor.

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has been a Louisville, Kentucky, institution since 1893 when the northern and southern branches of the Presbyterian Church agreed to jointly support one seminary “in the west,” and began to hold classes at Second Presbyterian Church in downtown Louisville. Following nearly 70 years at the downtown address of 109 E. Broadway, the Seminary moved to the 67-acre campus on Alta Vista Road, where it continues to train men and women for ministry today.
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