New Brunswick Theological Seminary Reunites for Convocation
October 7, 2021
New Brunswick Theological Seminary Reunites for Convocation
NBTS Alum Urges Community to Think Critically, Act Justly and Lead Faithfully in Challenging Times
New Brunswick Theological Seminary rejoiced in the opportunity to bring together members of its extended community on Saturday, August 28 for Convocation. For the first time in over a year, the governing board, administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alum all had the opportunity to gather on campus. Due to inclement weather and Covid precautions, the Convocation service was streamed from Mast Chapel to Hageman Hall and the Student Commons, and many joined virtually from around the world.
The Rev. Suzanne Wenonah Duchesne, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Worship & Preaching and Director of the Mast Chapel, welcomed all who attended both in person and online. Dr. Duchesne began with an acknowledgement of the land on which the Seminary now stands which originally served as a home for the Lenni Lenape people.
Rev. Micah L. McCreary, Ph.D., 12th president of NBTS, welcomed the board of trustees, staff, faculty, new students, and “all those who believe in grace, mercy, theology, biblical literature, history, pastoral care, and making this world a more equitable and just society one soul at a time.” President McCreary then introduced the event’s keynote speaker, NBTS graduate, Rev. Dr. Henry P. Davis, III, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Highland Park in Landover Maryland. President McCreary noted that Rev. Dr. Davis and his father both attended NBTS and that the Seminary now proudly offers a scholarship in the name of the late Henry P. Davis, Jr.
Rev. Jaeseung Cha, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Foundational and Constructive Theology, offered the Prayer for Illumination. Dr. Cha continued with a scripture reading, Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Rev. Dr. Davis offered reflections on the scripture reading as well as the New Brunswick motto: Think Critically, Act Justly, Lead Faithfully and began by adding the 9th verse of Philippians 4, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you,” for the consideration of his audience. Rev. Dr. Davis put this verse especially into the context of his own experience at NBTS as a graduate expressing his gratitude for this moment and for the opportunity to share in the NBTS Convocation. In 1984, he and his father were both recruited to join the first class of evening students as the Seminary offered this new schedule option. He recalled the role of Dr. MacNichol in his decision to enroll at NBTS, as well as several other professors who served as mentors and guides along the way. It was at NBTS that he learned to think critically and where the foundation was laid for acting justly and ultimately leading faithfully. Even facing the many challenges of the modern, ever-evolving world, he emphasized that “as believers, we have ‘wind assistance,’” the wind is at our back, God is on our side, “and the God of peace will be with you.”
Rev. Beth LaNeel Tanner, Ph.D., Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs and the Norman and Mary Kansfield Chair of Old Testament followed the sermon by introducing what will become an integral part of future Convocation ceremonies, the reading of the Faculty Oath. Dr. Tanner provided background to this reading, noting that during the pandemic, the faculty took time to establish a statement declaring their mission and beliefs as it relates to their work through NBTS. Dr. Tanner led the group in the inaugural reading of this statement. The full text of the Oath reads:
We, the Faculty of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, trust in Jesus Christ and through him believe in one triune God.
We are guided by the Word of God, incarnate, written, and proclaimed.
We will be attentive to historical and contemporary confessions and expressions of Christian faith, and to the beauty and importance of diversity across traditions.
Relying upon the grace of God, we seek the peace, unity, and purity of the whole church and of creation.
We attest to the dignity of all people, affirming that all human beings are created in the image of God. In view of the person and ministry of Jesus Christ, Good News liberates the least among us, those who endure violence due to their religious beliefs, class, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, or race. We profess that Christ in the Spirit heals, sanctifies, and reconciles the pains and exploitations of people and nature.
We renounce and lament systems of oppression, and commit to speak truth to oppressive power structures, organize within our institutions, and agitate at every level of society in pursuit of justice.
Seeking the lead of the Spirit, we commit to extend pastoral care to our colleagues and students and to show the love and justice of Christ in our community and beyond.
With energy, intelligence, imagination, and love, we pledge to build up and equip the church for service throughout the world; to free the enslaved, to relieve the oppressed, to comfort the afflicted, and to walk humbly with God.
We will be faithful to the mission of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, practicing the highest standards of academic integrity and excellence and using our time and talents to advance the purposes of this seminary and our shared calling as long as we may serve.
We ask God, and ask you God’s people, to help us so to do in the hope of that glorious day when, with joy and gratitude, we stand before God as witnesses of all things made new.
Convocation closed with a short benediction by Rev. Dr. Henry Davis, III, and a postlude by guest organist Hale B. Thomspson, III, Minister of Music at Hollis Presbyterian Church.
You can view the video of the Convocation Service here: