March 2022 – Students entering Drew Theological School in the spring semester were formally welcomed to the community with a hybrid celebration service filled with song, scripture, and the 150-year tradition of signing the matriculation book.
The incoming class of 24 students represents three continents, seven countries, and three states. More than 70 percent of the class are international students representing Burundi, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, South Korea, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
The students were officially welcomed by the Theological School faculty, Interim Dean Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre, Associate Dean Sofia Betancourt, and Associate Dean Tanya Linn Bennett. Kate Ott, professor of Christian social ethics, delivered the matriculation address.
The celebration was postponed from its original January date in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Perhaps this mid-semester celebration is apropos since we are always in the midst of it,” said Johnson-DeBaufre. “We are in the midst of war, suffering, and injustice. We are in the midst of discovery, awe, joy, and beauty. Let’s be in the midst of it, together.”
During Ott’s address, “Christ’s Virtual Presence,” she asked, “What exactly is the body of Christ?” Ott broke down the human body and how it interfaces with the world. “Being human is not about being body-bound, it’s an extended body and exemplifies incarnation in theology.”
Ott invited the students to recognize that the act of signing the matriculation book exemplifies embodied technological and spiritual beingness in the world. “The technology of writing on pages of a transformed tree brings you into a community with present, past, and a future of students,” she said. “The body of Drew Theological School.”
“May the force of God’s love continue to empower and energize you as you embark on this journey in theological education, and know that you never travel alone but always in the company of this community—students, colleagues, faculty, and staff,” said Bennett during her benediction.