Three students honored at PSR's 141st commencement

May 29, 2008
Russell Schoch

PSR held its 2008 commencement on Sunday, May 25 at First Congregational Church of Oakland. The speaker at the seminary’s 141st commencement exercise was Janice Steele, a graduate of PSR (MDiv 2007) and now pastor of Imani Community Church, a new church start of the United Church of Christ in Sacramento, CA. Following her address, three of the 76 graduating students were given special awards.

Each year, PSR presents the Paul Wesley Yinger Preaching Award to one or more senior MDiv students judged to be outstanding preachers with exemplary dramatic skills. The award is named for a former PSR trustee who was an acclaimed United Church of Christ preacher. This year the award was presented by Paul Yinger’s daughter, Rev. Marilyn Yinger Halstead Corvin, to Amie Giordano.

“When she started her preaching class this year, Amie Giordano was adamant about not wanting to preach,” Rev. Corvin said. “Nonetheless, she rose to the occasion and developed a clarity of voice that blends spirituality and social justice. During her internship at a local congregation, Amie provided outstanding leadership that included the establishment of a mediation group. She also has been involved with a number of contemplative prayer groups that have grounded her theologically and spiritually to effectively communicate the Word.”

At commencement, the PSR Alumni/ae Association also gives its Koinonia Award to students who enhance the school’s sense of community, actively participate in campus life, and demonstrate academic excellence. (Koinonia is a Greek work that appears frequently in the New Testament and means community, fellowship, and sharing.)

This year the Koinonia Award was presented by Katherine Kunz (MA 2007) to two students: Emily McGaughy has been described as an active, present, and passionate member of the PSR community. She has helped organize numerous campus movements, including SEW Peace (Students to End the War), catalyzing many campus efforts to promote justice. In the classroom, her rigorous coursework and insightful contributions to discussion have often been noted. She coordinated orientation week chapel service and organized many powerful chapel services. She has also served the school as student trustee on the PSR Board of Trustees and as a member of the CAPSR Council. Most importantly, Emily lives a passionate and faithful life—her commitment to justice touches everything that she does.

The other Koinonia Award winner for 2008 is Adriene Thorne, who has been described as a thoughtful, creative, and prophetic contributor to the life of PSR. In addition to her outstanding academic record, she has contributed via visual arts, preaching, and dance to PSR chapel services, served on the chapel committee, and co-directed worship services for the community this past fall. She has revived two Graduate Theological Union groups: The Black Seminarians and Sister Circle. In addition, she contributed to PSR’s commitment to advance racial justice through her work with the Dismantling Racism Committee, the Day of Mourning, the MLK Vigil, and the Roundtable on Race. She also offered her time and efforts in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Adriene stays engaged and shares a deep wisdom and inspiration with others.