San Anselmo, CA – Rev. Sarah Stephens’ career in human rights advocacy and combatting human trafficking has taken her from the United States to Geneva, Southern Africa, Kosovo, Albania, and Bangladesh. Whether with an ecumenical or secular agency, she seeks to do all her work through the lens of ministry.
Now based in France, Rev. Stephens designs and evaluates counter-trafficking programs in Nepal, Central America, and South Asia, as well as developing a practice as a personal life coach. “I am humbled, grateful, and honored,” she responded when asked how she feels about receiving the Distinguished Alumna award from SFTS. “Having lived and worked outside the U.S. for over 25 years, it means so much to be recognized by my home community.” She appreciates that the Sacramento Presbytery has continued to welcome her as a member in good standing for all of these years.
“My seminary education helped me develop a solid faith and spirituality that informed and deepened the drive for human rights and justice that had already taken root in me. It also gave me great respect for the church—local, denominational, ecumenical, and global.”
Reflecting on her own graduation in 1985, she recalls the mixture of relief in completing her masters work and gratitude for the learning journey she had shared with faculty and fellow students. In 1986, she returned from New York City to be ordained in Stewart Chapel in a service led by several friends and faculty from SFTS. Rev. Dr. James Noel gave the closing charge to the congregation, saying “We are called to go with Sarah, by putting our own hands to the plow… to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, release the captives, and proclaim good news to the poor.”
Her advice for this year’s graduates? “Dare to follow your calling. Respect and support others’ callings. Stay connected to people who are different from you, and remember that we are all part of the body of Christ.”