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2019 Commencement and Baccalaureate Highlights

Jun 19, 2019

Commencement 2019

On Sunday, May 19, 2019, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary held its Commencement exercises for the 165th graduating class. This year the seminary conferred Master of Divinity degrees on 17 students, Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy degrees on six students, Master of Arts (Religion) degrees on two students, and Doctor of Ministry degrees on ten students. Additionally, six students received a Certificate in Black Church Studies, three students received a Diploma in Pastoral Studies, and one student received a Certificate in Educational Ministry.

During the commencement exercises, several students were recognized for their accomplishments in a variety of fields including preaching, theology, the integration of theology with marriage and family therapy, field education and overall academic achievement.


Commencement Address: Iva E. Carruthers

As part of the ceremony, the Devoted Service Award, which recognizes individuals for their dedicated service in the life of the Church, was presented to Dr. Iva E. Carruthers. She is professor emeritus and former chairperson of the Sociology Department at Northeastern Illinois University and was founding president of Nexus Unlimited, an information and educational technology firm. Devoted Service Awards were also given to the Rev. Tom Lovell, moderator of the Synod of Living Waters, and the Rev. Bill Smutz, moderator of the Synod of Mid-America.

Carruthers was appointed to the White House Advisory Council on the internet, and the educational software she developed was awarded a ComputerWorld Smithsonian Award. She is also founder of Lois House, an urban retreat center in Chicago, Illinois.

She currently serves as a lifetime trustee for the Chicago Theological Seminary and trustee for The Kwame Nkrumah Academy, Chicago; American Baptist College, Nashville; Shared Interest, New York; and Bread for the World, Washington, D.C. Carruthers is a member of the National African American Reparations Commission and is working on initiatives related to the U.N. Decade of People of African Descent.

Carruthers is co-editor of Blow the Trumpet in Zion: Global Vision and Action for the 21st Century Black Church and has authored and edited a number of articles and publications in the areas of sociology, technology, and instructional technology. She was a delegate to the 2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, and her publication, The Church and Reparations, was distributed by her denomination, the United Church of Christ, in several languages.


Gayraud WilmoreLouisville Seminary also conferred an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on Presbyterian theologian, author, ethicist, historian, educator, and civil rights activist the Rev. Dr. Gayraud S. Wilmore (pictured). Wilmore's son, Jack, accepted the degree on Wilmore's behalf. This is the first honorary doctoral degree given by Louisville Seminary in its 165-year history.

One of the most important Presbyterian civil rights activists in the 1960s, Wilmore was the first executive director of the United Presbyterian Church Commission on Religion and Race. From 1963 to 1971, Wilmore and the commission undertook several civil rights initiatives including the lobbying for the passage of the Civil and Voting Rights Acts, promoting voter registration in Mississippi, and supporting civil rights demonstrations such as those in Selma, Alabama, and Washington, D.C. In 1966, Wilmore and Benjamin Payton of the National Council of Churches founded the National Conference of Black Churchmen, which would become the largest ecumenical organization of pro-black power clergy.

Wilmore's influence in the African-American religious experience and black theology is significant. He, along with his close friend James H. Cone (winner of the 2018 Grawemeyer Award in Religion), co-edited Black Theology: A Documentary History Volumes I and II (1979). Among Wilmore's other books are Black Religion and Black Radicalism: An Interpretation of the Religious History of African Americans (1979), Black and Presbyterian: The Heritage and the Hope (1983), Pragmatic Spirituality (2004), and several others.



Capping off his first year as Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary's 10th president, the Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard, III issued a charge to the graduating class of 2019. In his remarks, Pollard encouraged the graduates to embrace a life and ministry that embraces all of humanity - regardless of creed, color, gender, sexual orientation, and circumstance.


Prior to Commencement, Louisville Seminary's Baccalaureate worship service was held in Caldwell Chapel at Louisville Seminary. Debra J. Mumford, Louisville Seminary's Frank H. Caldwell Professor of Homiletics and Director of the Money Matters for Ministry Program, delivered the Baccalaureate sermon, "Living the Faith", and referenced scripture from Amos 5:21-24.

Each year, members of the graduating class select the Baccalaureate preacher and create a worship service. Mumford is ordained minister in American Baptist Churches, USA and affiliate minister with the Alliance of Baptists. She joined the Louisville Seminary faculty in 2007. She majored in mechanical engineering at Howard University and worked in engineering before answering her call to ministry. Mumford served as a youth pastor, associate minister and church administrator in several congregations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her scholarly interests include African American prophetic preaching, prosperity preaching, eschatology and the reign of God, and preaching and health.


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