Commencement CelebrationBright blue skies shone down on Emory’s 168th Commencement as the Class of 2013, their family and friends celebrated their graduation. The university awarded more than 4,100 degrees on the day, which began at 8:00 a.m. with a Quadrangle ceremony that featured remarks from President James W. Wagner and a keynote address from Pulitzer Prize winning poet Rita Dove.

Following the all-school ceremony, the Candler community adjourned for brunch before moving to Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church for the afternoon diploma ceremony.

Candler conferred a total of 150 degrees, which included 107 Master of Divinity, 19 Master of Theology, 16 Master of Theological Studies, two Master of Divinity/Master of Business Administration, one Master of Divinity/Juris Doctor, one Master of Theological Studies/Master of Public Health, one Master of Theological Studies/Master of Arts-Bioethics, and three Doctor of Theology Degrees.

In her remarks, Dean Jan Love acknowledged Luke Timothy Johnson, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, who received the Emory Williams Teaching Award, and also lauded Alice Rogers, associate professor in the practice of practical theology, who is leaving Candler after 11 years to become senior minister of Glenn Memorial UMC.

In her address to the graduates, Love told the story of her father, an Alabama clergyman (and 1956 Candler graduate), struggling to preach a message of racial justice in a segregated South. The lesson, to “turn the world upside down for Jesus’ sake,” is one that continues to resonate today.

“You demonstrated your theological commitments through initiatives for children in poverty, petitions to restore justice for Korean comfort women and participation in university-wide conversations about how and why race matters,” Love said. “The challenges and opportunities abound, just as they did in the first century, the 1950s or even just last year in this same season of graduation.”

The diploma ceremony also featured congratulatory remarks from Jeremy Pridgeon 02T, chair of the Candler Alumni Board. “Candler seeks to prepare real people to make a real difference in the real world,” said Pridgeon, superintendent of the Pensacola District of The United Methodist Church. “You are those people, and we anticipate with great hope that you will impact communities in positive, life-giving ways precisely because you are ready for the challenge at hand.”

Bishop Woodie White closed the ceremony with an inspiring benediction, congratulating all graduates for “making it” -- those who knew all along that they would, and those who feared they wouldn’t.

“Some of you weren’t sure if your car would make it. Or if the check would make it. But you all made it,” he said. He charged the graduates to engage persons who also are worrying whether they will make it -- persons who are grieving, suffering or even dying -- to look them in the eyes and offer assurance of their presence.

Photo by Cindy Brown