On Sunday, May 19, Rev. Dr. Stephen G. Ray Jr., president of Chicago Theological Seminary, will speak at the Lutheran School of Theology’s commencement ceremony.
After decades of holding a combined worship service and commencement ceremony, LSTC is this year holding a baccalaureate service at 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, in the seminary’s Augustana Chapel. Commencement is 2:30 p.m. at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 5472 South Kimbark Ave. Forty-six students will graduate from LSTC’s six degree programs.
The change came after requests from LSTC community members and alumni for a ceremony that would be shorter and more hospitable to LSTC’s ecumenical and inter-religious graduates. Class reunions, including the 50-year, that have taken place over commencement weekend for many years will become part of the Oct. 9-10 Homecoming event.
At Saturday’s service, the Rev. Dr. Kathleen (Kadi) D. Billman will preach, and the Rev. Dr. Benjamin M. Stewart will preside. They were chosen by the graduates. Billman is the John H. Tietjen Professor of Pastoral Ministry: Pastoral Theology, and Director of the Master of Divinity Program. Stewart is the Gordon A. Braatz Associate Professor of Worship, Director of Advanced Studies.
Ray serves as president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. Having written and lectured broadly in the areas of systematic theology, African American religion, human rights and the intersection of religion and politics, Ray’s current work focuses on reinvigorating the public square as a place for all and reclaiming a vital expression of progressive religion in that project.
Prior to becoming president of Chicago Theological Seminary (related to the United Church of Christ), Ray held the Neal F. and Ila A. Fisher Chair of Theology and was professor of systematic theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He served as associate professor of African American studies and director of the Urban Theological Institute at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (now United Lutheran Seminary).
He is the author of A Struggle from the Start: The Black Community of Hartford, 1639-1960 and Do No Harm: Social Sin and Christian Responsibility; co-author of Black Church Studies: An Introduction; editor of We Have Been Believers: An African-American Systematic Theology 20th Anniversary Edition; as well as co-editor of and contributor to other works.
Ray received his PhD in Theology and African American Studies from Yale University and his MDiv (summa cum laude) from Yale Divinity School. He is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ.
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The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.