A ruffle of robe flutters in the warm summer air, as we line up outside. Brass players tune their instruments next to the organ. Professors, bishops, and university leaders assemble two-by-two. Students and guests gather in the sanctuary as vibrant colors such as magenta, indigo, and gold process down both aisles of Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church. Today was the first day of class at Candler School of Theology, which always opens with a celebratory convocation worship service. However, the expectation and excitement surrounding the day felt a little more elevated, for on this historic day, Tuesday, September 4, 2007, we installed Jan Love as Dean of Candler School of Theology at Emory University, our ninth dean of the seminary and the first woman to hold this distinct office.
As I processed in with the Candler Singers, one of our student choirs, I made eye contact with friends I had not seen since my graduation from Candler last May, and my eyes welled up with tears of joy and feelings of remembrance. It seemed appropriate that Candler’s graduation and the dean’s installation were both held at Glenn Memorial, the United Methodist Church that sits on the edge of Emory’s campus. Graduation, in May, was the last time the entire Candler community gathered together for worship and institutional ceremony, in which Dean Love charged graduates to go forth from Candler as servant leaders; and now on installation day, we, the Candler and greater Emory community, charged Dean Love to be our servant leader, quoting President James W. Wagner from the ceremony, “with the obligation to advance Christian learning, to encourage acts of reconciliation, and to provide leadership for all of God’s people.” At the beginning of an academic year, particularly in the context of a seminary, at a time when we set goals and live in anticipation of the year ahead, these words remind me that we should all strive to fulfill that calling from President Wagner.
There has never been a time in Dean Jan Love’s life and vocation when she was not living out that call in her life. Dean Love’s resume is quite impressive, from being the chief executive officer of the Women’s Division of The United Methodist Church, to director of the International Studies MA and PhD programs at the University of South Carolina, and from serving on the World Council of Churches for over two decades to being recognized at the 2000 General Conference, by the United Methodist Council of Bishops for “Exceptional Leadership in Ecumenical Arenas,” she not only models servant leadership , but her way of being in the world encourages others in their intentionality towards service to the church, academy, and world. NOW is the time to be at Candler, as we nurture servant leaders under the new leadership of Jan Love!
In fact, when I examine that commission of furthering Christian learning, being a community of reconciliation, and providing leadership for all of God’s creation, I see the Candler community within those words. Candler is a place that takes Christian and religious study seriously. Our faculty and staff challenge students, as well as each other, to dig deep in writings of the past and present as well as deep within ourselves to find meaning and answers. From the classroom, in collaborative worship experience at Candler, and through programs of the Office of Student Programming and various student groups on campus, we are a community engaging in formal and informal acts of reconciliation and renewal. And from the moment we begin Candler, through the Contextual Education program and as we graduate from Candler, we are nurtured and molded into well-educated leaders for the church and world.
This is an exciting time the school’s history, and I am thrilled to be interning in the Office of Admission and Financial Aid at Candler for such a time as this. We’ve got a new dean, a new curriculum, a new class of first year students, and we are always looking for additional new faces to share the Candler experience with. There will be many more moving, special worship services, stimulating and challenging lectures, and opening convocation services and graduations to attend, and my hope for every one is to find a community, such as the one here at Candler, to live and grow in as we all prepare for and continue our ministries in the world. If you feel like Candler is that community for you, or would like to explore that as an option, please contact us in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us at 404.727.6326, check us out online at www.candler.emory.edu/admissions/ and look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology) and the Candler School of Theology group at www.facebook.com.
by Lane Cotton Winn 07T
Candler School of Theology
Office of Admissions and Financial Aid Intern