Alan Jones urges Seminary of the Southwest graduates to become fully open to God

May 22, 2008

The dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco urged Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest (ETSS) graduates to "be priestly people -- I'm not talking about ordination, but the vision of the fully human being as a priestly vocation."


"We need, in short, to accept that liberating orthodoxy which both guards and celebrates the Good News," said the Very Rev. Alan Jones during his commencement sermon.

Forty-one degrees and certificates were conferred during the May 13 graduation. The Class of 2008 represents 17 Episcopal dioceses from Hawaii and Los Angeles to Southwest Florida to Virginia. The graduating class includes eight denominations and students from Pakistan and Mexico.

Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, prominent Jewish New Testament scholar, author and Vanderbilt Divinity School professor; and Leila Clark Wynn, an active member of the Diocese of Mississippi and St. James' Church in Greenville, received the honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

"During your [Levine's] Harvey Lecture on our campus last year, you described Christianity and Judaism as two parallel sets of railroad tracks that stretch into an eternity where they meet in a place only God can see now," read the citation that accompanied her honorary degree. "Your remarkable talk in Christ Chapel beforehand on Acts 3:11-26 called us to 'take the logs out of our eyes as well as the cotton out of our ears'…so that we can 'do something about ending the hurt.'"

Wynn was cited for supporting "an array of religious, educational, environmental and cultural institutions through thoughtful and well-planned giving…You have said that the act of giving brings a deep sense of joy to you. You don’t know what philanthropy looks like, but you know how it feels. You report feeling it when you held your newborn babies and sense it coming on whenever Willie Nelson sings 'Stardust.'"

Founded after World War II by then Texas Bishop Coadjutor John Hines, the Seminary of the Southwest enrolls 105 students in a variety of degree programs. About one-half are divinity students with the other being working lay people who are enrolled in the part-time masters' programs in counseling, spiritual formation and chaplaincy.

Further information on the commencement, sermon text and photos are available here.

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