ESR Celebrates 2011 Commencement Events

The end of the year celebrations at Earlham School of Religion this past weekend provided the community with a variety of opportunities to share with our graduates the joy of marking the end of one time in their lives and the beginning of new opportunities for ministry and service.

On Thursday evening ESR students, faculty, and staff came together outside the ESR Center for the student organized Spring Banquet. Tables were set up in the circle, which gave the attenders a chance for conversation and fellowship. Background music and a buffet of grilled items made it a joyful time of celebration and a great way to kick off the weekend's festivities.

Friday evening began with a Baccalaureate dinner in the ESR Center. After a welcome and introductions, Earlham's president, Doug Bennett, gave a greeting and some commencement instructions to the graduates. Following dinner, faculty mentors presented tributes for the graduating students in attendance. These graduates were Robin Anderson, Rebecca Clouse, Elizabeth Code, Mary Collins (Dec. grad), Michele Graham, Kimberly Hampton, Silas Wanjala (Dec. grad), Adam Webber, Patty Willis, David Wunker, and Vivian Wyatt. A special tribute was given by Nancy Bowen for student Al Dodson, who passed away January 30th.

Following dinner the group moved to Stout Meetinghouse on the campus of Earlham College for the Baccalaureate Worship. The theme of this year's meeting for worship was the sacredness of the earth. Faculty and graduates processed into the meeting room to Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World." ESR alumna Sue Axtell played the piano for the congregational hymns and sang a duet, "The Promised Land," with Patty Willis accompanied by Mary Lou Prince. Adam Webber also entertained and blessed the gathering with a song he wrote about the anxieties of following God's calling to forms of ministry. David Wunker and Robin Anderson presented readings for worship and to honor the memories of their years spent at ESR. This year's faculty speaker was Stephanie Crumley-Effinger, who spoke on the theme, "Being Seeds, Planting Seeds - Ministry in Trust and Hope." At the rise of meeting friends and family had fellowship together and enjoyed refreshments.

The commencement ceremony began on Saturday at 2:30pm. Due to the rainy conditions, it was held indoors in the Shuckman Gymnasium located in the Earlham Wellness Center. ESR graduate Elizabeth Code delivered the invocation and, along with other representatives, Kim Hampton welcomed the audience on behalf of ESR. In the absence of Jay Marshall, Dean of ESR, who has been on a six-month sabbatical, Tim Seid, Associate Dean, assisted President Bennett in the ceremony for the ESR graduates. Each graduate was first hooded by Phil Baisley, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry, and April Vanlonden, Director of Academic Services, and received their diploma from President Bennett. Together they carried out the tradition of moving their tassels from the right side to the left.


This year there was a special time in commencement to honor the contributions made to Earlham by retiring president Douglas Bennett. The college graduates made him an honorary graduate of their class with a symbolic diploma. Other gifts were made followed by a standing ovation for his service to Earlham.

2011 ESR graduates are: Robin Leigh Anderson, Gabriella Gabos Cahaley, Rebecca Sue Clouse, Elizabeth Thompson Code, Patricia B. Cox, Michele A. Graham, Kimberly Rochelle Hampton, Amanda Kelly, Harold Eugene Thompson, Jr., Adam Brooks Webber, Patty Christiena Willis, David Edward Wunker, and Vivian Kay Wyatt.  Last year's December graduates were also listed in the commencement program. Those expecting to graduate December 2011 are Mary L. Collins, Bruce Edward Heckman, Rachel Elizabeth Gagné Stacy, and Silas Siboe Wanjala.

Congratulations to all of our 2011 graduates!

By Tim Seid, Associate Dean