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PSR Class of 2021 Rises to the Challenges of a Transformative Year

On Sunday, May 23, 2021, PSR held its 154th Commencement, with thirty-one students graduating. Those assembled provided a range of moving reflections on the graduation theme “Never Going Back: Breaking Wide, Rising Forward.” The theme urged graduates to see the various ways in which God is continuing to do new things in an unprecedented and transformative time and how they are equipped and ready to minister prophetically to the present moment and beyond with their PSR education.

“I rise,” proclaimed Carla Halyard, MDiv, “with intentional tenacity to be a visible blessing and critical listener in the public square.” Rev. Monica Cross, DMin exhorted to her fellow graduates that, “In order to see the Kingdom of God re-emerge, we must be in a constant reimagining of what life looks like.”

Nearly half of the graduates were conferred a Master of Divinity degree and six students graduated with their Doctor of Divinity degree. The 2021 class continues to reflect our diverse student body, with half of the graduates identifying as students of color and over sixty percent identifying as women. Additionally, the graduating class represented a wide range of denominations and spiritual backgrounds.

If you missed the commencement livestream, you can view it here.

2021 PSR Student Awards 
Each year, PSR honors student excellence in building community, preaching, ethics, and queering religion and theology. These awards were presented at the Graduates’ Chapel on May 18, 2021. You can view the recording of that ceremony here.

Marcella Althaus-Reid Award: Best Student Essay in Queering Religion and Theology
REV. MONICA JOY CROSS & KENDRA TWENTER
To honor the pioneering theological vision of Marcella Althaus-Reid, PSR’s
Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion presents an award in her honor to the best
student essay on “queering religion and theology.”

Koinonia Community Building Awards
CARLA HALYARD, ZEBULON HEARST, (OYASUURU) FARINWA HUFF, SHANNON KEARSE-HIGH, JACOB PEREZ, & SUSAN SOLVERSON
With the Koinonia Award, the PSR Alumnx Association honors those graduating students who have strengthened PSR through outstanding contributions of spirit, insight, and intellect during their time at the school. The Greek word koinonia, which appears frequently in the New Testament, is variously translated as “community,” “fellowship,” and “sharing.”

Michael M. Mendiola Prize in Ethics
SARAH GETTYS
The Michael M. Mendiola Prize in Ethics is awarded to the graduating student who has submitted
an outstanding essay or thesis on the questions of theodicy and human suffering or other important topics in contemporary ethics.

Freda Smith Feminist Preaching Award
ZEBULON HURST & ‘IVONI MAAMA
Honoring Rev. Elder Freda Smith, the first woman ordained in Metropolitan Community Churches who was known for her groundbreaking feminist preaching, this prize is awarded for a prophetic, innovative, and transformational feminist sermon.

Paul Wesley Yinger Preaching Awards
MARK “DRU” JOHNSON & JACOB PEREZ
The Paul Wesley Yinger Preaching Award is presented each spring to the graduating Master of
Divinity students judged to be the most outstanding preachers with demonstrated dramatic skills.

2021 Doctor of Ministry Dissertations 
MARTIN TODD ALLEN, The Ecotheological Network
MONICA JOY CROSS, Radically Inclusive Hospitality in Transitional Care Programs
FEPUARI K. LOGOLEO, Le Atua Tautai E Laulau Sasa’a Lona Faiva: Theology of Blessing
SIMI ESELU LAGAI MAUGA, Tofā Felafoa’i: Pastoral Care and Counseling in the Samoan Context
EBRAHIM SHABUDIN, Leading with Conviction and Virtue – Introspect The Leader Within Us
REV. MEGAN LEE OSBORN SNELL, Mental Health and Christianity

Ernest D. Libarios (1939-2020) Awarded DMin Degree Posthumously  
Ernest “Ernie” Libarios, a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church in Honolulu, always carried a gentle smile through which radiated compassion and heart. Always focused in seminar discussions, he displayed insight for “where the rubber hits the road.” He built an effective career as an educator working with marginalized communities, especially through his position as faculty at Leeward Community College where his creation of a culturally based self-development course earned him acclaim for the success it showed in working with underrepresented students.

In a June 25th Honolulu Star-Advertiser obituary, Amefil “Amy” Agbayani, Emeritus Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Diversity at UH-Manoa, described Libarios as “maybe the most impactful Filipino educator in Hawaii.”

Libarios had just begun designing his final project in the DMin program when he passed. He was storyboarding a film exploring the lives of many of his students years after they had been through the self-development program. “Those of us in the Hawaii cohort were very blessed to have known him,” said Rev. Dr. James Lawrence, Director of the DMin Program at PSR.

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