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News Release

Moravian Theological Seminary to hold commencement –
May 17

Dr. Wallace M. Alston, Jr. and Rev. Virginia L. Goodman to receive honorary degrees

(Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)—Commencement ceremonies marking the conclusion of the 196th academic year at Moravian Theological Seminary will be celebrated on Saturday, May 17 at 4:00 p.m. in Central Moravian Church. Ten students will receive the Master of Divinity degree, which is the professional graduate degree required by most denominations of their ordained pastors. Earning this degree are: Dianna Alpini (Bethlehem, Pa.), Jason Andersen (Green Bay, Wisc.), Michael Barnett (Lederach, Pa.), John Daniels (New York, N.Y.), Sharon Feuerstein (Bethlehem, Pa.), Jason Graf (Lake Mills, Wisc.), Edward Reeder Herrick (Durbin, N.D.), Hani Khouri (Allentown, Pa), John McCarthy, Jr. (Madison, Wisc.), and Dawn Ritchie (Weatherly, Pa.).

The Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling will be conferred upon Bruce Bowen (Bethlehem, Pa.), Tara Bremer (Allentown, Pa.), Rosieta Burton (London, Eng.), Charles Otto (Tunkhannock, Pa.), and Stephanie Stover (Bethlehem, Pa.).

Three area residents will receive the Master of Arts in Theological Studies, Erdmute Frank (Bethlehem, Pa., originally from Germany), Helen Richards (Bethlehem, Pa.), Debra Schlosser (Emmaus, Pa.).

The commencement address will be given by faculty member, Willard Harstine, associate professor of pastoral theology, who will be retiring after serving 21 years of service at Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary. Rev. Harstine, 1962 Seminary graduate, served the Moravian Church as a pastor for 20 years. In 1982, he accepted the position of chaplain of the College and Seminary and became a full-time faculty member at the Seminary in 1986.

Each year, members of the graduating class elect a fellow senior to give the Senior Address—John McCarthy, M.Div. candidate from Madison Wisconsin, has received that honor. The title of his presentation will be, “Messengers of the Most High”.

Moravian Seminary grants Honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees to individuals who have made significant contributions in support of theological education, and/or have demonstrated effective Christian leadership, global ministry, or service. This year, the accomplishments of two individuals will be recognized with the awarding of this degree, Dr. Wallace M. Alston, Jr. and Rev. Virginia L. Goodman.

Dr. Alston is recognized as one of the most creative leaders in theological education today. He enjoys wide respect among churches and institutions of higher learning in the United States and throughout the global community for his commitment to link rigorous academic study to the life of personal spirituality.

Among his most significant contributions to theological education has been his founding of the Pastoral-Theologian Program of the Center for Theological Inquiry based in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1998 through the Lilly Endowment Inc., the program brings together approximately sixty pastor-theologians from a broad range of religious traditions for an intensive three-year program of study and interaction. The program seeks to work with seminaries and churches in challenging pastors to employ theological resources for the renewal of the church.

An ordained Presbyterian pastor, he served for 33 years as a parish pastor to congregations in North Carolina, Alabama and New Jersey.

Also receiving an honorary doctorate will be Rev. Virginia Goodman. She has the unique distinction of being the first woman of African descent to be ordained in the worldwide Moravian Church.

Born in the nation state of Trinidad and Tobago, she was raised in the Moravian Church and served as a teacher in the Moravian public school associated with the L’Anse Noir congregation of Trinidad. In 1962 she immigrated to the United States, and became an active lay leader and charter member of the John Hus Moravian congregation in Brooklyn, New York. In 1978, she was ordained in the Moravian Church, and served the John Hus congregation. Her leadership was integral in the creation of two other New York area Moravian churches—the Grace congregation in Queens and the Fellowship congregation in Brooklyn. She was also a catalyst for the development of the New Dawn congregation in Toronto, Canada.

In 1992, she traveled to the Western Province of Tanzania to serve as a guest teacher in the Lusangi Moravian Theological Seminary and secondary school. An historic event, this was the first time that members of this African community had ever met and been served by a woman pastor. Her ministry throughout the Moravian Unity has helped to break down barriers and empower other women to answer the call to ministry.

Moravian Theological Seminary is the seminary of the Moravian Church in the United States. The seminary awards three degrees: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling, and Master of Arts in Theological Studies. The institution also awards certificates in theological studies.