Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed addresses Candler.Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed reflected on the vital role of people of faith and the clergy in helping the city, state and nation overcome partisan differences during a moving keynote address Aug. 25 at the Opening Convocation of Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. 

“It is vital that thoughtful, serious people – people like you who heeded God’s calling and seek to truly solve the problems of the world – make your voices heard above the din,” Reed said. “All too often, when I turn on the television or listen to the radio or pick up the newspaper, I do not believe you are being heard enough. I do not see or read about what I know about God or Jesus or about being a Christian. I hear a lot of noise – loud noise, shrill noise – and more often than not, it conveys one, short-sighted notion of God. The noise drowns out those who recognize a bigger and more inclusive vision of God.” 

During the hour-long program in Cannon Chapel, Reed welcomed Candler’s diverse incoming class of 197 theology students, recognized the school’s commitment to community engagement, and urged students and faculty to continue their tradition of robust civic participation, especially educating, mentoring and nurturing children and young people. 

“Soon after I received Dean Love’s invitation to speak to you as a part of your fall convocation, I came across the motto of the Candler School of Theology. It said: ‘Preparing real people to make a real difference in the real world.’ That struck a chord in my heart.” 

Seventy percent of Candler’s graduates serve as pastors in churches; others minister in colleges, hospitals, the military and social service organizations. Candler is one of 13 United Methodist Church seminaries and has a total enrollment of 500 students representing 50 denominations.

Candler Convocation 2011Mayor Reed is an active United Methodist layperson and a member of the Cascade United Methodist Church. His maternal grandfather, Esau Anderson, was a United Methodist preacher in South Carolina. During his remarks, Mayor Reed acknowledged the importance of his grandparents; father, June Reed; and mother, Sylvia Reed, in the development of his faith.

“When God took clay and made Adam… He got dirty. When Jesus walked among the “great unwashed” and as a carpenter… He got dirty. When John Wesley in the 1730s visited Georgia and its infamous red clay and secured the vision of what would become the Methodist movement… he got dirty,” Mayor Reed said. 

“…I challenge each and every one of you to take your studies and good works to another level. May you have the highest blessings for the new school year and the greatest of luck as you get your hands dirty.”

Read the full address.

Listen to the address on iTunesU. (Requires iTunes)