News from the Hill May 21, 2009 | back to index
“Just do it,” was Commencement speaker Rev. Dr. Gloria White-Hammond’s advice to Andover Newton Theological School’s 2009 graduates on May 16. It was a prayer, she said, that had sustained her “all the days and years of my ministry.”
Dr. White-Hammond, a trained pediatrician, co-pastor of the Bethel AME Church, Boston, and a prominent activist for human rights in Darfur, acknowledged she took the phrase from the “Handbook of Mothers,” containing “all the sayings” you heard from your mother but promised yourself you would never say to your kids. But, in the end, she claimed, you sometimes had to tell your own children: “No ifs, no ands, no buts. Just do it.”
She reminded her audience that the early Christians “were struck down but they were not destroyed.” Even when times were tough and the right decision seemed impossible, she urged graduates, “Do not throw away your confidence.”
Drawing on personal challenges from both her career as a pediatrician and her work as an activist and humanitarian, she said the way to confront difficult times was to “step up with courage, step out in faith” and “step forward with determination.”
“You go, Class of 2009,” she concluded. “Just do it.”
At the Commencement ceremonies held at the First Baptist Church in Newton in Newton Centre, MA, Andover Newton conferred 74 degrees and awarded 8 certificates, one of the school’s largest graduating classes in recent years. The school, founded in 1807 as America’s first graduate school of theology, conferred its first degrees in 1810.
The Rev. Dr. Nick Carter, president, presided. Elizabeth W. Richeson M.Div. ’09 gave the student address.
The 74 degrees conferred comprised:
Master of Arts: 14 (3 with honors)
Master of Divinity: 54 (27 with honors)
Master of Sacred Theology: 1
Doctor of Ministry: 5 (2 with honors)
Certificates awarded included:
Certificate in Congregational Health Ministries and Parish Nursing: 6
Certificate in Advanced Theological Studies: 2
Recipients of the 2009 Adoniram Judson Medals were the Rev. Dr. George Tooze D. Min. ’75, currently an Executive Committee member of the Board of the American Baptist Churches, USA and a trustee of Franklin College, and Dr. Musonda Bwalya. principal of the United Church of Zambia Theological College in Kitwe, Zambia, and a visiting professor at Andover Newton.
The medal is named for Adoniram Judson (1788-1850), Andover Newton Class of 1810, a pioneer in American missionary work, who is well known for his long missionary career in Burma, his translation of the Bible into Burmese, and the publication of a English-Burmese dictionary.
Joel Kemp M.Div ‘09, and Van Lanckton, Rabbinical School of Hebrew College ’09, received Rabbi Murray I. Rothman Awards for outstanding inter-religious leadership.
Long a prominent figure in the Newton community and an adjunct professor at Andover Newton, Rabbi Rothman influenced hundreds of Christian seminarians. Upon his death in 1997, members of the congregation of Temple Beth Shalom in Newton created the Rothman Awards to be conferred periodically upon that person or persons who, in the mind of the leadership of Andover Newton and Temple Shalom, best exemplify the spirit of Rabbi Rothman.