Woven through the endings and beginnings that punctuate our life’s story is a common thread: change. And the past year at Candler has seen much of it. We’ve witnessed the demolition of long-standing Bishops Hall and the rise of a new building in its stead; celebrated the leave-taking of a graduating class and welcomed an assembly of new faces picking up the Candler mantle right behind them; and embraced the introduction of five new graduate degrees, created so that more real people can make a real difference in the real world.

The stories in this issue of Connection spotlight the transformative spirit of endings and beginnings, exploring the eternal cycling between the two and how both lead us into a deeper understanding and renewal of our call. We consider a range of endings and beginnings, from rituals at the end of life to the birth of congregations in the neighborhoods that surround us; from stemming the tide of systemic injustice to forging new ministries. And of course, as we usher in 2014, we prepare to celebrate Candler’s beginning as we honor the 100th anniversary of its founding in 1914.

This summer, we mourned the passing of John Haralson Hayes, emeritus professor of Old Testament, who served on Candler’s faculty for 35 years and left behind a legacy of words, wisdom, and genuine friendship. His death brings deeper resonance to the final words of his 2010 book of wit and wisdom, If You Don’t Like the Possum, Enjoy the Sweet Potatoes:

And when on our day the sun has set, let us pray that the darkness
be not long delayed, that short will be that evening journey into night.
And may that night kiss us softly on the cheek, and embrace us tenderly in its keep.

As Christians, our beliefs are rooted in the ultimate ending and beginning, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of this, we face the future with confidence, even when we do not know what the “evening journey into night” will entail. We stand poised at an exciting juncture here at Candler as we turn from our first to our second century. May we embrace the sacred tension of our endings and beginnings as we continue to do God’s work in the world, both now and in years to come.

Grace and peace,

Jan Love
Dean and Professor of Christianity and World Politics

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The opening strains of the great hymn “Be Thou My Vision” never fail to inspire Jan Love, a lifelong enthusiast of music and congregational singing.