A charge and a prayer from Austin Seminary

April 26, 2019 by Lee Hinson-Hasty

As the academic year winds down, I am thinking of this year’s class of seminary graduates. They are finishing several years of deep study, and are grounded in theology. They felt called to attend seminary, and they are ready to serve.

Where will God lead them? How can we support them? What charge and challenge can we offer?

I tapped several PC(USA) seminary leaders to offer charges, prayers and words of wisdom to this year’s graduates. Dr. David Jensen, Academic Dean and Professor at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, offered this prayer from Commencement in May 2018. I particularly love this phrase from his prayer:  “No one discerns the call to ministry alone.”

I invite you to join me in the prayer below as we prepare to welcome another class of graduates into our churches and our communities.

Dr. David Jensen
Dr. David Jensen

God of grace, God of love, on this day we give you thanks. For these graduates who have studied, labored, read, learned, written, discussed, stayed up late, worshipped, prayed, laughed, and worked. Over their time in seminary you have guided, sustained, and blessed them. Continue to nurture them as they go from this place to the places where you have called them to minister. We give you thanks today for the teachers who have challenged these graduates, who have opened new horizons in biblical and theological texts, who have asked critical questions about the shape of ministry, the rhythm of liturgy and preaching, the nature of the church’s mission, the meaning of pastoral care. Sustain these teachers in the continued service of your church. Each of these graduates, O Lord, came to this place with a unique story. Pastors, teachers, friends, and family members prodded them to consider the ministry. You know these stories more intimately than we know them ourselves. But amid the wide diversity of these stories, there is a common theme: no one discerns the call to ministry alone. And so today we give you thanks for all of those who helped each of these graduates pursue their calling: Spouses and partners who walked the difficult path along with these graduates; for children who have moved to new apartments and new schools so that their parents could study here; for friends who have prodded and encouraged; for all who have given of themselves so that these graduates can be here today.

Sustain these graduates in the steps they will be taking when they take leave of seminary. The stories of their ministries will be as varied as their faces. In a world of violence and hateful rhetoric, remind them that they are called to bear the Good News, words of reconciliation and peace. Nurture their hope even in places where all hope seems lost. Above all, inspire them to love so that all might come to know the love that comes from you, the gift of your Son to the world.

We ask this all in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Amen.

I wonder who you may know who God may be calling now into ministry?