Commencement Address | May 22, 2011
Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie
(Proverbs 3:21-26)

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary held its 158th Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 22, 2011, at Second Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Ky., at 3:30 p.m.

The Rt. Rev. Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Bishop of the 13th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, was the Commencement speaker. Her address was entitled "Which One of You?"

Bishop McKenzie serves as the 117th elected Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Her historic election in 2000 represents the first time in the 200-year history of the AME Church that a woman had obtained that level of Episcopal office. In 2005, she again made history by becoming the first woman selected as the head of the denomination, as the presiding prelate of the Council of Bishops.

McKenzie is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park, where she began a successful career in journalism, radio, and Christian media broadcasting. After joining the AME Church, she earned her Master of Divinity degree from Howard University Divinity School and the Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. She has served as a congregational pastor and was featured in Ebony Magazine’s "Honor Roll of Great African American Preachers." McKenzie preaches and speaks to diverse groups across the country and around the world. In April 2011, she was the guest speaker of Louisville Seminary’s Women at the Well Retreat for women of color in serving in ministry. She also is the author of four books, including Not without a Struggle and Strength in the Struggle, focused on leadership and professional growth for women.

As Bishop of the 13th Episcopal District, based in Nashville, Tenn., she has launched an innovative agenda among her congregations with an aim to “Rebuild lives, Churches, and Communities” through numerous social ministries, with educational services among her priorities. Bishop McKenzie values theological education and, under her leadership, AME Church students have been encouraged to study at Louisville Seminary, and they have done so with distinction.

“Over the years, Louisville Seminary has been honored to count among its alums men and women of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who have honored their denomination and Louisville Seminary with their study and preparation for continued ministry in the church,” said President Michael Jinkins, who will be presiding at his first Commencement ceremony since becoming President of the Seminary in September 2010.

These alums have included the late Louisville activist Rev. Louis H. Coleman Jr. (MDiv ’79); Rev. Charmayne Davis (MACE), who directed the first Freedom School in Louisville and is currently studying in the Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry program; Rev. Erika Taylor, a graduate of the Marriage and Family Therapy program (2006), who is a therapist and pastor Greater Taylor Chapel AME Church in Franklin, Ky.; and Rev. Shielah Robinson, who graduated in 2010 with dual degrees in divinity and marriage and family therapy.

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