Mary E. Klassen
Thirty-five graduates of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary were reminded of the “the simple yet not so simple four-letter word: Love” by speaker James Logan, PhD, at the commencement service on Saturday, May 24, at College Mennonite Church.
In his address, “A Christian Politics of (Sometimes Funky) Love,” the Earlham College professor demonstrated what he does in his teaching: bringing “the voices, the passion, the street knowledge of ordinary people into the sacred and too often sanitized halls of academia, including the seminary and the divinity school and also into the peace churches.”
Logan, who did his doctoral thesis on the ethics of incarceration, named ways in which the world needs the love and contributions of the graduates. He pointed to violence and conflict; children dying because of malnutrition, lack of water and substandard medical care; Black and Latino men incarcerated because of racial injustice; and how consumerism and “me-ism” seem to be the highest measure of what it means to be human.
Logan affirmed the ways students in the class of 2014 are already deeply engaged in the tough love required of followers of Jesus through ministries related to poverty, hunger, racism and unjust incarceration, peace and justice, care for the environment, and care for those considered to be people with disabilities. While he acknowledged that graduates are aware that “the struggle is real,” he challenged them to continue and expand their involvement in the tough issues present in the world.
“It is especially important to remember that the pursuit of love will sometimes be ‘funky,’” he emphasized. “When you involve yourself deeply in the politics of Christian love in this world you will find that there is sometimes going to be a physical and moral stench that accompanies your human associations.”
“As you go forward to a world yearning for your sometimes funky Christian love—that is, a sometimes tear-soaked, pissed off, yet refusing-to-give-up-on-one-another-and-the-world kind of love, take the complicated lessons you learned at AMBS with you,” Logan said.
Make sure that you go forward wrapped the Christian love “with a wise mixture of toughness, gentleness, joy, courage, prudence, temperance, humility, mercy, and a very, very difficult peaceableness,” he added.
The supreme example, Logan said, is Jesus: “aching and suffering love for the very humanity that nailed him to and then hung him from a cross.” Real Christian love must not be an escape, he added; “real Christian love is an entry into the needs of the present, sharing in its suffering, its needs and activities and its hope.”
I Corinthians 13 provided the Scripture text for the service, and it was read in four languages represented among the graduates. Martin Navarro read in Spanish, Chaiya Hadtasunsern in Thai, Theo Odhiambo in Swahili and Lydia Nofziger read in English.
Sixteen graduates received the Master of Divinity degree, representing three years of study to prepare for different forms of ministry. Three students earned the Master of Arts: Peace Studies; two the Master of Arts: Theological Studies and two the Master of Arts in Christian Formation. Certificates representing one year of study were presented to eleven students, and one student completed the AMBS–Great Plains Foundation Program of Study.
Six graduates are from Canada; one of these is originally from Korea, another is currently living in Germany. One graduate is living in Korea, another in Paraguay; one each is from Tanzania and Thailand. The remainder are from the U.S.
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On Friday morning, May 23, AMBS faculty honored the following graduates with awards:
Joon Hyoung Park
Award of excellence in missional leadership
Award of excellence in preaching
Award of excellence in pastoral care and counseling
Award of excellence in Christian formation
C.J. Dyck award for excellence in history
Jason Greig, Eric Vandrick
Marlin E. Miller award for theological studies
Gertrude Roten award for excellence in Greek exegesis
Millard Lind award for excellence in biblical interpretation
Heart of the Community Award