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Columbia Theological Seminary To Hold Commencement Ceremony on May 18; Bishop Yvette Flunder to Give May 17 Baccalaureate Address

Forty-seven students from around the world will become the newest alumni of Columbia Theological Seminary when the institution holds its Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18 at Trinity Presbyterian Church at 10 a.m. in Atlanta’s Buckhead area.

That ceremony will be preceded a day earlier with Friday’s 6:30 p.m. Baccalaureate ceremony that will be held at Decatur Presbyterian Church in downtown Decatur.  Renowned preacher, singer, and activist Bishop Yvette Flunder will deliver the ceremony’s address.

Columbia will confer on 47 students a total of 57 degrees/diplomas on masters and/or doctoral degrees in Theology, Divinity, Practical Theology, Theological Studies, and Educational Ministry. Ten students will receive dual degrees in the master’s in divinity and Master of Arts in Practical Theology.  This will also be the first time the Seminary’s new Graduate Certificate in Intercultural Chaplaincy will be granted.   

This year’s graduating class hails from places such as Zimbabwe, Jordan, South Korea, Madagascar, New York, Chicago, Washington state, and all around metro Atlanta and Georgia.  They plan futures in areas such as serving in churches, working for non-profit or for-profit entities, or furthering their education.

President Victor Aloyo, Jr., who will deliver the Commencement charge to students on Saturday, said this week is one of great joy for the Columbia community.

“This coming weekend, we will honor the accomplishments of our students by recognizing a future filled with endless possibilities,” Aloyo said. “At Columbia Theological Seminary, we foster discovery and innovation in every discipline, and we strive to provide platforms that will insight our graduates the courage and wisdom to ask challenging questions and the perseverance and skills to find the answers. As our graduates move forward in their calls to ministry, I hope you will apply the wisdom and knowledge from our faculty, contextual education supervisors, librarians, alums, mentors, fellow students, and staff in abundance and grace. As a graduate of this esteemed institution, you are celebrated and will always be a member of the Columbia Seminary family!”

Friday, Flunder will address students in the Baccalaureate ceremony just a short distance from the 57-acre campus.   Flunder is a third-generation preacher and gospel singer from San Francisco with roots in the Church of God in Christ.  Ordained in the United Church of Christ, Flunder founded City of Refuge United Church of Christ in 1991 to unite a gospel ministry with a social ministry. In 2003, Flunder was consecrated Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship, a multi-denominational fellowship of 110 primarily African American Christian leaders and laity representing 56 churches and faith organizations from the United States, Mexico, and Africa. Bishop Flunder and her staff opened Hazard-Ashley House and Walker House in Oakland and Restoration House in San Francisco through the Ark of Refuge, Inc., a non-profit agency which provides housing, direct services, education and training for persons affected by HIV/AIDS. Bishop Flunder is a Trustee and Adjunct Professor at Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley California. She is a board member of the National Sexuality Resource Center, and she is an active voice for the Religion Council of the Human Rights Campaign.