A Call to Queer Solidarity: A Reflection by CLGS's Transgender Roundtable Coordinator, Rev. Jakob Hero-Shaw

Pacific School of Religion Celebrates a Fearless Future at 2024 Commencement

On Sunday, May 19th Pacific School of Religion celebrated its 157th commencement with the theme, Emerging Unafraid: Living Out the Courage of Our Compassion. The graduating class chose the theme to honor the knowledge that they are emerging into a world where the courage to fight for social justice and a commitment to approaching the world with compassion are needed in equal measure.  

The speaker, PSR alumnx and Senior Pastor at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA, Rev. Dr. John H. Vaughn (MDiv ’85) echoed the theme of emerging unafraid, saying: “’Do not be afraid, for I am with you,’ says God. I challenge us to emerge unafraid. Live and love out of the courage of our compassion…and unconditional love.” 

Each year, the graduating class raises funds for a Senior Gift to be given either to PSR, for a specific project, or on behalf of the school to an organization or initiative aligned with PSR’s mission. This year, the gift, presented by Beth Pfeiffer (MDiv ‘24), was split between the school’s “Shelter in a Time of Storm” student emergency fund and the Sogorea Te Land Trust. Anyone wishing to add a contribution to the senior gift can do so through PSR’s Giving Page. 

The ceremony also included an acknowledgment of this year’s student awards, which honor excellence in building community, preaching, and ethics and were presented at the Graduates’ Chapel on May 7th. 

Thirteen students were awarded Doctor of Ministry degrees with a range of final projects that reflect the distinctive courses of study available at PSR, including Siona Falevai’s “Tonga Traditional Dancing and Music: An Addition to the Future of the Tongan Church,” Robert W. Lee IV’s “The Impact of Theology on Two United States Presidencies,” and Andrew Edward Finch’s “Do Black Lives Really Matter in the United Methodist Church.” 

Closing the ceremony with the valedictory charge, professor Alexandra M. Rosado-Román said two things become apparent in seminary, “First, once our eyes are opened to certain social, political, cultural, and religious dynamics, we can never unsee them. And second, there is an ethical imperative to act proactively and bring justice to ourselves, our practices, and our communities.” 

Though the country is riven by inequality, injustice, war, division, and so many other ills, she said she was sure that the graduates were equipped to “embark on this new chapter, fueled by courage, compassion, and a resolute belief in [their] capacity to create a world in which all can thrive!” 

Pacific School of Religion 2024 Graduates*   

Vincent Arishvara, DMin 

Janice Marie Beard-Wilcher, CSSC, MAST 

Rebecca Choi, CTEL 

Melvin L. Cobb, CSSC, MAST, MDiv 

Patricia Ann Dunham, CTEL 

Erin Edwards, DMin 

Elizabeth English, DMin 

Siona Falevai, DMin 

Andrew Finch, DMin 

Rev. Dr. Kimberly Fong, CTEL 

Chasétte Lattice Harper, CSSC, MAST, MDiv 

Kizmath Loanna Germaine Hemingway, CSSC, MAST, MDiv 

Sanghyeon “Samuel” Jin, CSSC, MAST, MDiv 

Maurice “Mo” King, CSSC, MAST 

Lee King, DMin 

Tera Landers, DMin 

Robert Wright Lee IV, DMin 

D. L. Lopez, CTS

Bobby Marchessault, CSR 

Rona Matlow, DMin 

Denise Newman, CTEL 

Reginald Louis Nichols, CTEL 

Beth Pffeifer, CSSC, MAST 

Stanley Zirkle Puaa, CTEL 

Jessie “Jay” Ratcliff, CSSC, MAST, MDiv 

Linda Riggi, CTEL 

Rev. Dr. Daniel Rodriguez Schlorff, CSR 

Christiane Schwartz, MDiv 

Jules Sherman, CSSC, MAST 

Geoffrey Smartt, DMin 

Sarah Kathryn TevisTownes, DMin 

Reinalda Gonzalez Vasquez, CTEL 

Min. Rusty Watson, CTEL 

Kenneth D. Watson, CSSC, MAST, MDiv 

Brian Wise, DMin 

Patricia Woods, CTEL 

* Degrees and Certificates – DMin – Doctor of Ministry; MDiv – Master of Divinity; MTS – Master of Theological Studies; MAST – Master of Arts in Social Transformation; CSSC – Certificate of Spirituality and Social Change; CSR – Certificate of Sexuality and Religion; CTEL Certificate of Theological Education for Leadership 

Share this: