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Louisville Seminary will hold 155th Commencement Exercises

by Louisville Seminary | May 12, 2008

Distinguished Alumna and a pioneer for women in ministry at Louisville Seminary to deliver Commencement address.

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary will hold its 155th commencement exercises on Sunday, May 18, 2008, 3:30 p.m., at Second Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Ky.

The Seminary will confer the following degrees: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy, Master of Arts in Religion, Master of Theology, and Doctor of Ministry. Of the 58 potential graduates, 31 are women and 27 are men.

Several students will receive dual degrees. Elizabeth Hilkerbaumer of Louisville, Ky., will receive the Master of Divinity degree and the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy degree. Through partnerships with two local universities, Shanda Cool Berrios will graduate with the dual degree in Master of Divinity and Masters of Science in Social Work (University of Louisville Kent School of Social Work), Francine Brito Smith will receive the dual degree in Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Spirituality (Bellarmine University), and Andrew Black will graduate with the Master of Divinity degree and the Juris Doctor (University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law).

Several of twelve December 2007 graduates will join their class to receive diplomas during Sunday’s exercises.

In the Seminary’s non-degree programs, diplomas in pastoral studies will be granted to ten individuals, and the Certificate in Pastoral Counseling Supervision will be granted to two students.

The Commencement speaker will be Rev. Mary Gene Boteler, Presbyterian pastor, community leader, and pioneering woman for women in ministry. Her commencement address, “To Serve with Imagination,” will be based on the biblical text from Jeremiah 32: 1-15.

Mary Gene Boteler (MDiv ’78), pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Mo. , received the Distinguished Alum Award from Louisville Seminary in 2005. She is considered one of the pioneering women graduates of Louisville Seminary who helped to open the doors for women in ministry in the 1970s. A graduate of the University of Mississippi (BAEd), she was encouraged to explore how her gifts could be used in ministry and enrolled in the Christian education degree program at Louisville Seminary. But an inner restlessness would not be comforted until she felt empowered to consider a call to pastoral ministry.

“It was that restlessness that only finds its rest in following God’s call,” she said.

She understood that God had called her to prepare for the pastorate. In 1974, Boteler was one of five women in the Master of Divinity program. She graduated from Louisville Seminary in 1978, the recipient of the John W. Meister Award in Pastoral Ministry. Then in 1981 she received the Seminary’s Olof Anderson Fellowship for continuing education.

Boteler has served pastorates in Kansas, Alabama, and Ohio. For 15 years she was the pastor of Brighton Presbyterian Church in Zanesville, Ohio, where she led the congregation to begin Brighton Neighborhood Outreach (BNO), a ministry for at-risk children and families in the neighborhood that works collaboratively with educational, medical, and social agencies in meeting the needs of children and families in the community. In her call as pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, where she has served since 2006, the congregation has undergone extensive renovation of its facilities, the most notable being the restoration of its gymnasium in order to expand the church's urban ministry. Boteler has also helped establish the Pfautch Lectures with the first lecture to be held in the fall on Racial Reconciliation in the City.

As a denominational servant and mentor, Boteler served two terms as moderator of the Muskingum Valley Presbytery. Now, as a member of Giddings Lovejoy Presbytery, she serves on the Dismantling Racism and Privilege Ministry Team. Additional service in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has included membership on the Bicentennial Committee for the denomination and service as a commissioner to the 216th General Assembly, where she was moderator of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations. She was elected by the General Assembly of the denomination to serve on the General Assembly Council Review Committee, which will make its report to the 218th General Assembly, and she has been nominated to chair the Review Committee for the Presbyterian Publishing House.

Boteler was a delegate for six years to the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches and a delegate to the 7th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Canberra, Australia. She has served on a number of state ecumenical councils and presently serves with Louisville Seminary President Dean K. Thompson as co-mentor for a Company of New Pastors group from Louisville Seminary. She was recently elected to the board of Doorways, a nationally recognized St. Louis organization that provides affordable, secure housing and related supportive services to people living with HIV/AIDS.

During commencement exercises, the Devoted Service Awards will be presented to Rev. Boteler and two Presbyterian synod moderators: Rev. Dr. Robyn S. Abel, a graduate of Louisville Seminary (MDiv ’89) who is pastor of Iroquois Presbyterian Church in Louisville, where she has served since 1999, and moderator of the Synod of Living Waters; and Dr. Rance Thomas, the moderator of the Synod of Mid-America, who is professor emeritus of sociology at Lewis and Clark Community College in Illinois and a pioneer for minority leadership in educational fields. These awards recognize individuals for their dedicated service in the life of the Church.

The Baccalaureate Service —Prior to Commencement, Louisville Seminary Professor Susan R. Garrett will deliver the Baccalaureate sermon, “Whatever the Day Brings,” (Romans 8:12-17) at a 10:30 a.m. worship service that morning. The Baccalaureate will be held in the Seminary’s Frank H. and Fannie W. Caldwell Chapel. Each year, the graduating class selects the Baccalaureate preacher and creates the worship service.

Dr. Susan Renninger Garrett is Professor of New Testament with a specialized interest in the Gospels and how they reflect the world view and theology of biblical authors. Early Judaism, including apocalyptic thinking, is also a particular specialty.

Garrett joined the faculty at Louisville Seminary in 1995 and welcomed its atmosphere of collegiality and sense of purpose among its faculty. She says that her years at the Seminary have influenced a shift to writing for the church as well as for the academy. Some of her published works include The Demise of the Devil: Magic and the Demonic in Luke’s Writings (Fortress, 1989), The Temptations of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel (Eerdmans, 1998), Making Time for God: Daily Devotions for Children and Families to Share (Baker Book House, 2002), co-authored with Louisville Seminary Professor Amy Plantinga Pauw, and No Ordinary Angel: Celestial Spirits and Christian Claims about Jesus, which will be published by Yale University Press in October 2008.

Garrett earned her degrees from Duke University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Yale University. She studied in 1980-1981 as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Tubingen in Germany, and in 1998-1999 she was the recipient of a Henry Luce III Fellowship in Theology.

In addition to pursuing her teaching responsibilities and research interests, Garrett is the coordinator of the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion, a $200,000 annual prize given jointly by Louisville Seminary and the University of Louisville for creative ideas that best illuminate the relationship between human beings and the divine.

Founded in 1853, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is one of ten Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seminaries. It is also approved by the United Methodist, the African Methodist Episcopal, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion, and the Christian Methodist Episcopal denominations to educate their pastors and professionals. The Seminary is committed to nurturing inclusive study, experience, and exploration that seek to learn from the wisdom of minority voices. As a community with a multicultural vision, Louisville Seminary is a center of theological education that values and embraces the diversity of perspectives.

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