Dear Friends in Christ –
Thank you for the ways in which you encourage one another and demonstrate the profound love and graciousness of God to one another. I had the opportunity to travel to Boston with family and enjoying time with our children and grandchildren. I am blessed to be with you during this time of transition and discernment. I also want to thank you for the opportunity to take some time to be with family and to do some study.
Some of you know that I am involved with Princeton Theological Seminary as the President of the Alumni Association Executive Council (AAEC). For three days, Martha and I have spent time together at my annual reunion enjoying friends, seminars, and keynote speakers, and for me unfortunately, a lot of meetings. I hope over the next months to be able to share with you the richness of my time at Princeton as we celebrated the 500th birthday of the Reformation.
I would share with you now a brief summary of the speakers that presented at the reunion. Rev. Eugene Cho ’95 M.Div. is the 2017 distinguished Alumnus and is the founder and pastor of Quest Church, an urban church in Seattle and the not for profit “One Days Wages” that works globally to “end extreme poverty in the world.” Gene spoke powerfully about how many people have “poured” themselves into his life and have made him who he is today. His favorite concept was “no one is an island unto themselves.” God has given us a legacy of people who have shaped us and are continuing to shape us as we are “re-formed and re-forming.”
Elizabeth Dias, ’11 M.Div. received the AAEC Service Award and spoke of her journey as a journalist for TIME magazine and the struggle journalists face in this time when truth is fluid, morality and empathy are gone and God has been marginalized. In her time spent with Pope Francis and with President Trump, she sees people struggling to find someone to trust. She spoke of her gratitude for her seminary training that has grounded her in her faith and given her the ability to not give up.
Dr. William Willimon, former Methodist Bishop and current professor at Duke Divinity School challenged all of us to remember “who does the reforming.” Many books have been written about the Reformation and the ongoing need for reform, but much of what is written does not state clearly that it is God who does the reforming and we too often think it is our task and vision that is central. He also made the comment, affirmed in many conversations, that oft times, we are the ones who need to be reformed and not others or institutions.
Other presentations, group conversations, worship and many meals brought people together from all over the world to speak together, learn together and praise God together. We were all encouraged to live into the covenant nature of our reformed tradition of never giving up on one another, not turning our backs to one another. Today, it is easy to speak words of rejection, retaliation and revenge and walk away. That is not the way of our reformed faith. God always works for our reconciliation and unity. Thank you again for this great opportunity and privilege.