“Look to the growing edge,” said Rev. Jim McDonald in his commencement address. By noon on Saturday, May 21, 33 certificate awardees and graduates and were doing exactly that.
At 9:30 that morning the bagpiper led the candidates in to the First Presbyterian Church of San Anselmo—learned men and women prepared for spiritual care and leadership, ready to make lasting change in their chosen fields—who were also a little nervous. Transitions have that effect on people.
Rev. McDonald’s charge to the graduates to “grow and deepen your knowledge and capacity to engage yourself and others in the profound questions of life. Questions of meaning and purpose—of who God is and how He is known. Of how we can overcome indifference and ignorance, especially now, when the world seems crazy and hellbent on destruction. How can we make the world a better place?”
Distinguished alumna Alison Harrington, who has given refuge to hundreds of immigrants facing deportation at the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, spoke about being true to one’s calling and heart, especially when in the line of persistent heated threats and intolerance. “My parents taught me many things,” she said. “But the most important thing is to be brave. Be brave.”
The memory and spirit of the second distinguished alumni, the late Rev. Dr. James Noel was given voice by Rev. Dr. Jana Childers. Along with Rev. Dr. Noel’s passion for art, jazz, and salsa dancing, Rev. Dr. Childers recalled his thunderous voice and personal, never-ending mission to bringing compassion and equality to the underserved. “His spirit is in this room today, and we will continue his work,” she concluded.
Diplomas and certificates in hand, the SFTS graduates of 2016 walked out the the church and into a world that, as Ms. Harrington put it, isn’t fair. But that is the kind of challenge they’re ready for as they look to the growing edge, strong in the knowledge that by pushing that edge they will begin to create lasting, positive change.