Fall Convocation marked the beginning of Candler School of Theology’s 100th academic year with gratitude for the past and anticipation for the future. “We are swimming in an ocean of celebration,” said convocation speaker Carl Holladay, noting the day’s highlights: the installation of Robert M. Franklin, Jr. as the inaugural holder of the James T. and Berta R. Laney Chair in Moral Leadership, a litany of dedication for Phase II of Candler’s new building, and the official start of Candler’s Centennial Celebration.

Holladay, Charles Howard Candler Professor of New Testament Studies, spoke on “Imagining the Future.” As he considered various ways to choose among imagined futures, Holladay explored the idea that the subtle power of the status quo convinces humans that the way things are is the way they should be. But knowing which things of the present signal the way things should be in the future requires prophetic discernment that must be cultivated, Holladay asserted. “There are many ways to cultivate such gifts of discernment, but three formative elements can be singled out: a sense of inquiry, dialogue and worship.”

Those three elements, Holladay said, are evident in the new configuration of Candler’s space, with the Rita Anne Rollins Building leading to Pitts Theology Library leading to Cannon Chapel. “From Dickey Drive, one enters spaces devoted to lectures, discussion, and administration, gradually ascending to space dedicated to learning, inquiry, and investigation, then moving even higher to a place of prayer, praise, and worship,” he said.

This intentional design of the combined architecture fosters a rhythm of life where administration, teaching, learning, and worship flow together naturally. “One moves from classroom to library to chapel and back again in a natural, mutually reinforcing pattern of formation,” he said.

Establishing this rhythm where theological discourse, inquiry, and adoration form an interactive experience “will give our imagined futures…a measure of realistic hope,” Holladay concluded. “And so equipped, we can work to change the way things are to the way they should be.”