The 210th academic year of Moravian Theological Seminary (MTS) came to a close when 26 graduates received degrees and certificates at its Commencement Service on Saturday, May 13, 2017. For the second time in its long history, the service was held at College Hill Moravian Church. Every seat in the sanctuary was filled, which provided both intimacy and energy—one could not help but be moved by the singing, music, antiphonal liturgy and the accomplishments of the graduates.
Among the 26 graduates were 11 Moravians, many of whom have already embarked on new ministries this summer.
Since 1998 the seniors of MTS have selected a fellow graduate to give the Senior Address at commencement. Mandy Mastros, a child of the Lititz congregation, was elected for that honor this year. Her talk summed up the life-changing experience of Seminary—the teaching, learning and new relationships—and offered wisdom and encouragement to the graduates. Through a partnership of two graduate programs, Mandy completed a dual degree, earning the Master of Divinity at Moravian and the Master of Social Work at Marywood University in Scranton, Pa.
Recognized for her skills at working with people and her top academics, Mandy received awards at both schools. At Moravian she was awarded the Faculty Academic Prize for maintaining high academic standing and superior creative scholarship. Prior to her graduation at Marywood, Mandy was inducted into the Phi Alpha Honor Society for Social Work. As she awaits a call, Mandy will be supply preaching and working with the community social services program she helped to organize in Nazareth, Pa.
Other Moravians receiving the Master of Divinity include Greg Behrend from the Wisconsin Rapids congregation, who was awarded the Rev. Elder Bender Award in Moravian Ministry for exemplifying ideals and skills suited to Moravian ministry. Greg has accepted a call to serve as pastor of Our Savior’s Moravian Church in Altura, Minn., and was installed there on July 2.
From the Lake Mills congregation, Ben Lippert accepted a call prior to graduation and will be installed as the pastor of the Schoenbrunn congregation in New Philadelphia, Ohio, on July 16.
Frank Shipman, from the Central congregation in Bethlehem, received his MDiv and is looking to serve in specialized ministry.
From the Olivet congregation in Winston-Salem, Adam Goodrich received the Moses Homiletics Prize for outstanding preaching and practical pulpit work. Adam awaits call in the Southern Province.
(Right to Left: Mandy Mastros, Greg Behrend, Ben Lippert)
(Right to Left: Frank Shipman, Adam Goodrich)
Certificates in Moravian Studies
Six students from North Carolina preparing for leadership in Moravian congregations in the Southern Province received the Certificate in Moravian Studies. Each of these students earned their Master of Divinity degrees at schools in North Carolina and, through distance education, completed required courses in ministry and Moravian topics at Moravian Seminary.
Receiving her certificate at the commencement service was Barbara Styers from the Raleigh congregation. In absentia were: Leslie Cox of the Fulp congregation in Walnut Cove; Victoria Lasley of the Bethania congregation; Angelica Regalado, a member of the Friedland Church in Winston-Salem; Rusty Rushing who serves as student pastor and provincial acolyte of the Peace congregation in Charlotte; and Chaz Snider who was recently called as pastor of the Ardmore congregation in Winston-Salem.
Underscoring the worldwide reach of the distance education program at the Seminary, Dena Fortuzi, a Moravian from Albania, was awarded the Frueauff Memorial Prize for outstanding class work and research in Moravian history. Dena will continue to take courses through distance education and serve as a lay leader of the emerging Moravian ministry in Albania.
True to our ecumenical nature, students from other denominations who received the Master of Divinity were: Sharmune Burgess, a United Methodist ordination candidate serving two congregations in Moundsville, W.V.; Helen Kurczynski from Vauxhall, N.J., by way of Cambridge, England, serving as a Buddhist Chaplain at University Hospital in Newark, N.J.; and Mike Lonergan, recently ordained pastor of the United Church of Christ in Pocono Pines, Pa.
Eight students local to the Lehigh Valley (Pennsylvania) received the Master of Arts in Theological Studies: Elizabeth Buss (Zionsville) with a concentration in Formative Spirituality, Fred Butler (Lehigh Valley), Ayse Celik (Bethlehem), Barbara Lee (Bethlehem), Kathy Nevins (Hanover Township), Laura Novick (Emmaus) with a Graduate Certificate in Biblical Studies, Charles Olmeda (Bethlehem), and Donna Tweed (Jim Thorpe) with a concentration in Formative Spirituality.
Graduating with the Masters of Arts in Clinical Counseling were: Dena Augustine (Northampton, Pa.), Melody Moore (Ringgold, Ga.), Kim Niyogi (Suffern, N.Y.), and Sahar Tabshi (Whitehall, Pa.).
A farewell address
In one of his final presentations, the Rev. Dr. Steve Simmons, Assistant Professor of Theology, gave the commencement address. Steve retires this summer after 17 years of service to the Seminary as a faculty member and Director of Continuing Education. Steve brought a veritable “who’s who” of theological and ministry circles to campus to give lectures through our Continuing Ed program.
Please join us in wishing Steve well and in congratulating the MTS Class of 2017! We look forward to their unfolding ministries.
Thanks to the Moravian Theological Seminary staff for this article and photos.
From the June/July 2017 Moravian Magazine