In Unprecedented Times, Candler Celebrates Graduates in New Way

May 28, 2020

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Emory and Candler communities gathered online to celebrate the accomplishments, impact, and perseverance of the Class of 2020.

Emory conferred degrees on 4,900 students during the virtual ceremony on May 11, which featured an address and Q&A by lawyer, social justice activist, and founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson. Family and friends were also invited to share memories and congratulations through Emory’s Y/Our Moment digital commencement hub.

The Monday morning event followed a digital celebration for Candler graduates on May 9. Candler conferred a total of 128 degrees this year, which included 74 Master of Divinity, 10 Master of Theology, 13 Master of Theological Studies, one Master of Religion and Public Life, three Master of Religious Leadership, and 27 Doctor of Ministry degrees.

In her opening remarks, Dean Jan Love acknowledged the extraordinary circumstances of this year’s commencement due to social distancing measures. “It goes without saying that we are in a unique time in our world, a time that has called us all to reimagine our way of being as individuals and in community. As we live in this current reality, we want to take time to recognize, honor, and celebrate you—the amazing students of the Class of 2020.”

Love praised the students for their talents, generosity, dedication, creativity, and resilience. “We’ve seen the fruit of these gifts in our classrooms, in your contextual work, in worship, and in our daily exchanges—be it in the halls of this great university, or on Zoom calls. You have made an imprint on this school and we cherish it.”

The celebration also included the premiere of “A Candler Hymn,” written by alumni Gennie Bowles 17T and Byron Wratee 18T and performed by the Candler Singers; the announcement of graduating student names; a keynote address, “The World Needs You,” read by various Candler faculty and featuring contributions from the graduating class; a welcome from Candler Alumni Board Chair Susannah Davis 95T; and a prayer for the Class of 2020 by Bishop-in-Residence Larry Goodpaster.

“We are scattered, and yet linked by our Candler connections. As we recall those moments, the faces and people who have helped shape us, we are reminded that we are now sent for such a time as this,” Goodpaster prayed. “So now the class of 2020 will be scattered throughout the world to serve you, to witness to your love, mercy, and grace. To work for justice for all people. We commend them to you, and to your loving care and empowering spirit.”

Virtual events earlier in the week also recognized retiring faculty members Steven J. Kraftchick and Karen D. Scheib, and announced Assistant Professor of American Religious History Helen Jin Kim as the recipient of the Provost’s Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Education, which recognizes outstanding scholars who excel as teachers within formal and informal education settings. Read more about Kim’s multiple honors this spring.

View videos of “Celebrating the Candler Class of 2020” along with other year-end events here.