Dear Friends,

In our first 100 years, Candler School of Theology has inspired thousands of stories, transformative stories of courage, brilliance, moral fortitude—and yes, angst, regret and sorrow—stories that all blend into one glorious image of who we are. And like the mosaic above, the larger Candler story is made up of the unique stories of our faculty, staff, friends, and 10,000+ alumni who have been the lifeblood of the school during the past century. The details of each individual photograph—or story—can be difficult to see, but when joined together, the pieces form a stunning picture that is instantly recognizable as Candler.

As we celebrate our Centennial, we have compiled a good many individual stories that exemplify Candler. A selection of these can be found in this commemorative edition of Connection, where we share glimpses into the lives of the 56 men and women we are honoring with a Centennial Medal for their extraordinary service to the school, the church, and society.

It wasn’t easy to decide which stories to tell, but the dilemma was made easier when I reflected on wisdom shared not by one of our own, but by one who is responsible for shepherding Emory University’s financial well-being. Mike Mandl, executive vice president for business and administration, spoke earlier this year to Candler’s Board of Advisors, and it was his explanation of how Emory frames the question of funding priorities that served as a guide: How do you decide what to retain from your history and what to let go of as you move forward? You retain what is essential to who you are.

Candler has done that in its first 100 years. We did away with barriers to entry based on gender and race because it was essential to who we are as a Christian institution. We retained academic freedom and scholarly integrity because it was essential to who we are as an institution of higher learning. We refined our emphasis on the practical applications of our work because it is essential to who we are as followers of Christ dedicated to the positive transformation of the world.  And though thoroughly ecumenical today, we’ve maintained our close connection to The United Methodist Church because our identity is rooted in the Wesleyan tradition of evangelical piety, ecumenical openness, and social concern.

So while there are thousands of individual stories embedded in the larger Candler story, in this Centennial year we pause to reflect on those stories that highlight what is essential to who we are today and who we hope to be tomorrow. And as we reflect on Candler’s story, I invite you to reflect on your own unique, personal Candler story. How has Candler shaped you? What of your experience here will you leave behind? What will you keep? Whatever the details, know that your abiding presence is essential to who we are—the image of Candler would be incomplete without you.

Grace and peace,

Jan Love
Dean and Professor of Christianity and World Politics