Moravian Theological Seminary celebrates graduates at May 4 commencement

On May 4, 26 students received degrees and certificates during the 2024 commencement of Moravian Theological Seminary.

Dr. Bryon Grigsby, president of Moravian University and Theological Seminary and Lancaster Theological Seminary, and the Very Reverend Katherine H. Ragsdale, Interim Vice President and Dean of Moravian and Lancaster Theological Seminaries, presided over the event held at College Hill Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pa. The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth (Betsy) Miller, chair of the Seminary Board of Trustees, offered a welcome to graduates and attendees.

Dr. Grigsby shared greetings, reminding the graduates, “The mission of the Seminary is to train individuals for when the seeds of hope, or joy, or pain happen in people’s lives to help them manage those so that their faith and love remain strong.” He also said, “You will be there in the most terrible of times for people, when they are suffering from a death of a child, from divorce, from the loss of a loved one…but you will also be there in the moments of great joy—a marriage, a birth of a child—in all those seeds, you help lay the groundwork for joy and love and faith.”

The Rev. Dr. Craig Atwood gave the commencement address, beginning his talk with the humorous greeting, “May the 4th be with you,” as the crowd responded, “And also with you.”

Dr. Atwood shared about leaving his role at the Seminary and beginning a new chapter as associate pastor at Home Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.  Reflecting on that new chapter in his life he shared, “I’m looking forward to reminding people every Sunday and every day that they are dearly beloved children of God and nothing can separate us from the love of God.

“This is the task before you and all of us,” he continued. “We are called to help those who are losing the flame of hope. We are called to help them recognize their identity as the children of God to be revealed. We are called to be messengers of redemption.”

Moravian Graduates

This year, four Moravians received degrees and certificates following their studies.

Josh Follweiler, a Southern Province candidate for pastoral ministry living in Bethlehem, Pa., received his Master of Divinity degree. Josh also received of two academic awards: The Cora Doster Moses Memorial Homiletics Prize for the best work in preaching and practical pulpit work, and  the John David Bishop Memorial Prize for superior record in scholarship development of personality suited to the requirements of the Christian Ministry and effective participation in seminary activities.   

Josh was ordained a deacon of the Moravian Church as clergy under call to the Southern Province on June 9 at Mayodan Moravian Church, Mayodan, N.C., with the Rt. Rev. Dr. Wayne D. Burkette officiating. He will serve a one-year, on-loan appointment at Central Moravian Church as associate pastor. (see this issue’s “Official Provincial Elders’ News” for more.)

Jesmina Hebbert Meade, who had been serving at Morningstar Moravian Church in Coopersburg, Pa., also received her Master of Divinity degree during commencement. Jasmina was awarded The Reverend Bender Memorial Award for exemplifying the qualities of leadership and integrity.

Jesmina completed her degree in the fall term and was ordained a deacon of the Moravian Church on January 21 at Morningstar, with the Rt. Rev. Michael Johnson officiating.  She accepted the call to serve as pastor of Trinity Moravian Church in New Carrollton, Maryland.

Other Moravian graduates this year include the Rev. Jane R. Gehler, Watertown, Wis., who earned her graduate certificate in Spiritual Direction and delivered the graduate address; and the Rev. Darryl F. Johnson, Bethlehem, Pa., who received his graduate certificate in Formative Spirituality.

2024 Graduates

Additional graduates in the 2024 class include:

Master of Divinity (MDiv.): Kimberly Elizabeth Cornwell, East Greenville, Pa. and Manfredo Martinez Luna, Bethlehem, Pa.

Master of Arts in Theological Studies: Kristy Christian, Bethlehem, Pa.; Debra Yolanda Fraser-Howze, East Stroudsburg, Pa.; Jeremy Lau, Bethlehem, Pa. and Olivia Orwan, Auburn, Pa.

Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling,  Jonathan B. Weaver, Philadelphia, Pa.

Graduate Certificate in Formative Spirituality: Monica Kemirembe, Elmer, N.J.

Certificate in Spiritual Direction: Laura Boll, Lancaster, Pa.; James Carow, Kalamazoo, Mich.; Al Dell’Angelo, Horsham, Pa.; Bobbie Edwards, Northampton, Pa.; Sharon M. Frye, Weatherly, Pa.; Carolyn Gaffney, Hellertown, Pa.; Jean Cheng Gorman, Monterey, Calif.; Earlaine C. Klingler, Allentown, Pa.; Karen B. Larsson, Bethlehem, Pa.; Linda Mains, Seattle, Wash.; Robin Mayforth, Pacifica, Calif.; Carol Ann Silver, Schnecksville, Pa.; Deborah Staniszewski, East Stroudsburg, Pa. and Angela Marie Tully, Bethlehem, Pa.

Graduate speaker

The afternoon ended with a message from graduate speaker Rev. Jane R. Gehler, who shared about community. “I’ve gone to school in three different periods of my life…To me, in those three different periods, I found community…Learning to get to know people who have different ideas and different ways of thinking. …and we found a home (together).”

To learn more about Moravian Theological Seminary and its programs, visit