Yesterday, five upcoming graduates of Eden Seminary presented their D.Min. project and Masters’ theses for members of the Eden community, family and friends.  In a virtual presentation platform, students shared results of their research and demonstrated the vitality of their scholarship for the future of the church in the United States and around the world.  Congratulations to each of these students for successful project and thesis presentations.

Kevin Kelley – Doctor of Ministry
Noah McCarn – Master of Divinity
Gloria Kawang – Master of Theological Studies
Mtipe Koggani – Master of Theological Studies
Vivian Williams – Master of Theological Studies

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Today, Eden Seminary hosted its first Virtual Awards Ceremony. This is a time to honor students for their hard work during the academic year. The ceremony was hosted over ZOOM since this is a time of being physically distant. Here are this year’s award recipients.

Awards Descriptions and Recipients

Honor Graduate Fellowship Award: Jewell McGhee and Noah McCarn
The Honor Graduate Fellowship Award recognizes the graduating Masters-level student who, in the judgment of the faculty, has the greatest academic promise and potential for further graduate study in theology.

Grauer Award: Gabrielle Kennedy
The Grauer Award recognizes promise for congregational ministry related to faithfulness in preaching and pastoral care. The recipient is the student judged by the faculty to demonstrate solid academic achievement, a love of Christ’s church and excellence in both preaching and pastoral care.

Senior Preacher:   Renee Johnson
This awardee is chosen by the faculty as an affirmation of gifts for preaching and worship leadership. The senior preacher normally preaches at the in-person Spring Convocation.  That Convocation was held on-line for 2020.  Instead, Renee Johnson was the preacher for
Eden Seminary Chapel on April 20th.  

Edith and Robert T. Fauth Book Award: Rachel Helton and Sabrina Trupia
The Edith and Robert T. Fauth Book Award recognizes the importance of an educated and learned clergy, the importance of books and learning resources and the need for an adequate personal library of the pastor, and is given to the Master of Divinity student having the highest academic ranking at the end of the first year of study.

Kenneth M. Cooper Book Award: Karen Pepmeier
The Kenneth M. Cooper Book Award is given to any deserving student pursuing preparation for parish minister with priority consideration to a student of the Kentuckiana Association of the Indiana-Kentucky Conference of the UCC

Kniker Family Book Award: Emma Landowski
The Kniker Family Book Award celebrates the call of Charles Kniker as the twelfth President of Eden Theological Seminary and is given to a UCC student selected by the administration.

Warren H. Seyfert Memorial Book Award: Cory Lovell
The Warren H. Seyfert Memorial Book Award is given to a student in loving memory and appreciation of the life and ministry of Warren H. Seyfert, a graduate of Eden Seminary in 1946. It represents his belief that religion should take hold of people’s lives during the week as well as on Sunday and that the pastor’s life should be an example of participation and leadership in wider community, particularly around the issues of social justice, mental health and ecumenism.

Robert L. Tiemann Book Award: Mark Waight
The Robert L. Tiemann Book Award is given in recognition of outstanding achievement of a student deemed to excel in business acumen, whose skills will be transferable and useful in the student’s ministry.

Milton and Jesse Hoffman Book Award: Timica Emerson
This Award recognizes the importance of books and learning resources and the need for an adequate personal library of the pastor. The Award is given to a Master of Divinity degree student with preference to a student from Hope United Church of Christ, St. Louis, or a student serving that congregation in the Contextual Education capacity.

In case you missed the live event or wish to share the students’ success with others, here is a video from the virtual ceremony.

We are living in a time of uncertainty, with a pandemic that forces us to look at the questions of meaning, grief, and purpose, among other things. People are more likely to turn to their faith communities searching for guidance, encouragement, leadership, and a place to belong. We are called upon to be advocates, to practice compassion, to be confident and to recognize full humanity. But above all, we need the will to lead the way.

Are you ready to lead? Take your next step and join Eden in leading and cultivating community by filling out an application.

Course Descriptions: Summer 2020 Course Schedule.

Each course is 3 credit hours.

To see if you are eligible for a FREE Summer course, call 314-918-2642 or email the Admissions Office at [email protected].

This month, April, students in colleges all over the country participated in their annual student government elections. Well Eden, you did too, you’ve done a great job. The votes have been counted and the results are here.


Co-Presidents: Merrimon Boyd + Carol Brazeale

Academic affairs: Ernest McDonnell

Secretary: Madison Peterson

Worship council: Tom Baynham

Social justice: Zach Mullens

Student life: Paige Foster

The Eden Student Cabinet strives to bring the voice of all students to administrators, faculty, staff, and trustees to create cohesion and address all matters pertaining to student life – to celebrate the joys and needs that makes us Eden. The success and effectiveness of the student cabinet relies on students actively participating in the Cabinet and Committees.

On Wednesday, February 26, 2020, Eden Seminary hosted an African American Read-In. This event was the last in the Black and Brown Lives Matter series that was hosted throughout the month. The event was open to anyone who wanted to attend and read.

The event was held in the Rotunda, where students, staff, and visitors could stop by and listen. This particular event highlighted African authors and their literary works. Guests could bring their own pieces to read from, or there was a table set up with piece that participants were welcome to pick from. Each person was given 15 minutes to read from their chosen author(s).

Sonja Williams, associate Dean of Students here at Eden and organizer of the series, commented on the final event and what it meant to her.

Eleven straight hours of uninterrupted theological wondering that included both tears and joy. The Holy One showed up in ah-ha moments, the rejoicing of the amen corner, and the community hugs and most importantly, the sacred space of an alternative theology –the intentional space to have church a new way. The Rand Rotunda located in the center of the building, the center of theological discourse became priority for black wisdom and black experience to reverberate beyond the halls and into a space that willingly engaged a shared church history and Afrofuturism- love for the arts, for a perfect utopia.

The African American Read-In on Wednesday, for me, was putting theory and theology into practice. It was an opportunity to listen intently to the wisdom, griefs and joys of the past. Not simply to honor them, but to become involved in the making of a future they fantasized about. This was an opportunity for the wider community to engage in a praxis of inclusion, at least a praxis that wonders how to imagine a society absent of supremist oppression.

Cory Lovell, a student here at Eden, also attended and read during the event.

The Black & Brown Lives Matter Series: African American Read In, which occurred at Eden Seminary on Wednesday, February 26th, was one of the most compelling and engaging events I’ve experienced in my time at this institution. Having a background in contemporary art and literary event planning, it reminded me of the enduring transformative power of performance art in public spaces, especially spaces in which this type of performance rarely happens outside of prescribed roles. Prophecy was quite literally brought down from the pulpit and put into a public thoroughfare. The words and ideas of various authors of the African Diaspora, from every era, genre, region, and religious and ideological background you could imagine, were read by a diverse array of performers; white, black, brown, male, female, non-binary, and interfaith as well.

The experience was multifaceted, and interacted not only with thought and rhetoric, but with space and behavior as well. It was not only the power of hearing novels, biographies, poems, biblical commentary, political theory, and correspondence from prominent voices of color read aloud in a religious institution, but also the power of watching which of those voices each performer specifically chose to lift up. What that choice said about a particular individuals engagement and focus on African/African American thought. What it sounded like to hear often revolutionary Black words spoken in these hallways, where oil paintings reflecting a long leadership lineage of Euro-Whiteness is omnipresent in our psyche.  Hearing how timeless and relevant words from the 1960’s and the 1840’s, from Nairobi and Harlem, from the pulpit and the prison cell, still are to our time and our community, right here and right now.

The public nature of this prophecy led to inevitable engagement by passersby in many forms. No one could simply ignore these words. You had to engage and make a choice. Folks often chose to sit down and directly listen, many to stand up and read. Sometimes folks were taken by surprise and tried to respectfully sneak around the proclamations, treated them respectfully but went about their business as usual. Others avoided all together, often entering a doorway, and immediately turning around to utilize an alternate entrance. It was impossible as a viewer to not see in these interactions the macro-cultural connections made to how we engage with prophetic Black and Brown thought in America as a whole.

Finally, as a part of a religious community here at Eden who believes in the ever present Eternal Spirit of the Divine, it was powerful to hear that Spirit manifested in sound, in vocal vibrations of life affirming revolutionary thought, and to have those vibrations bounce about the marble, granite, and wood of this building, infusing with our physical infrastructure, so that it is now inextricable from our heritage and institutional theology.

Eden Seminary hosted a series during the month of February called Black and Brown Lives Matter. The goal of this series was to look to the future and goals that the Black Lives Matter movement has. Anyone in the community and at Eden were welcome to attend the events, where there was an open dialogue and a place of learning.

The Eden series was created to engage the 13 principles of Black Lives Matter, a movement co-founded by three progressive community organizers: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi.

I Define Me

The very first event was to engage Tracie Berry McGhee, M.ed.,LPC in conversation. She is a Non-violence Ambassador for the King Center and founder of SistaKeeper Empowerment Center, and international nonprofit for young women. The mental and emotional health of a community is vital for survival.

Diversity and Globalism

Carly Garcia is fighting for her husband Alex, along with Pastor Rebecca Turner to advocate for and educate others of the hardships and present laws against brown skinned folks, particularly immigrants.

Queer Clergy and Straight Communities: A Conversation

Rev. James Ross II provided space within the series to discuss the problematic order of erasing the sexual orientation of persons of color to use the magic of their being for the sake of church and society. There is a cost to remain silent.

Intergenerational, Black Families, and Black Villages

Rev. Aaron Rogers vividly discuss the strongholds of white supremacy and capitalism that uses a thumb of oppression to keep the margins of society outlined with black and brown bodies.

Roots of Spoken Word: A Practical Theological Approach

Rev. Dr. Sonja Williams led students through the good news of the gospel with the lens of an spoken word artist. Dr. Williams brings the study of aesthetics front and center as a way of truth telling through the strange and unique. Probably more commonly known as ethnography as she integrates theology and the social sciences to create a way through struggle. At the foot of the cross is culture, and wisdom, and experience that the church must engage.

Film “Just Mercy” Documentary and Reflective Study – When Restorative Justice Matters

Advancement Director, Sonya J. Vann who provides oversight to the ECFFM Task group helping students reduce their overall indebtedness, led the community in a reflective study on Restorative Justice. To earnestly build the beloved community that is sustainable, empathetic and one that grows, requires urgent attention. And the attention must be intentional towards a mercy that is just.

African American Read-In

The African American read-in brought in members of the greater community. Fathers came with their daughters, seminaries invited friends, deacons and lay leaders were able to integrate learnings from their parishes with what their friends and leaders are learning at seminary.

The Black & Brown Lives Matter Series was a glorious movement towards an inclusionary progressive church.

Below are the events and their descriptions used in Eden’s communication.

A big thank you to all congregations who participated in UCC’s Seminary Sunday.  And more to come in following weeks. Below are a few stories from Eden students and staff who participated in their churches on February 23rd.

My extended mission moment was at St. Paul UCC in St. Louis. I simply asked what does Tom Ressler (the pastor at St. Paul) and Matt Hellis, Stephen Nietzsche (Eden Students), Lorin Cope (Eden Staff), the St. Louis Association Prayer Calendar, the message on the back of the bulletin and the bulletin insert all have in common? The congregation then responded with, “Eden Seminary” in joyous response. Then we read the responsive prayer from the bulletin insert.

With a church like St. Paul – having so many Eden connections – in some ways every Sunday is Seminary Sunday.

-Lorin Cope


My two congregations, Grace UCC and Mount Tabor UCC, have welcomed international students of Eden Seminary for several years now on Seminary Sunday, and both support Eden Seminary financially. We love connecting to the wider Church through their witness of life and ministry in their contexts. Rev. Edith was embraced warmly at Grace UCC, and Rev. Michael at Mount Tabor UCC. Edith connected with the people as she shared her story of being a woman in ministry in Kenya and being the mother of four children. Michael, too, lifted up his wife and four adult children, then shared his story of ministry in Tanzania.

After worship at Mount Tabor we all sat down to Mardi Gras brunch of pancakes, sausage and bacon. The youngest worshiper present that morning told me how she liked an African story Michael had shared in his message about finishing well. The story told of an unhappy worker who filled his boss’s bags with hay instead of grain in an effort to “get back” at the boss. In the end, the boss awarded the workers the bags they had filled that day. The worker did not end up finishing well!

Thanks to Jill Schantz and Eden Seminary for building these connections around the globe and here locally in St. Louis. These two small congregations are glad to participate in the theological education through Eden Seminary which enriches the Church Universal. Grace, peace, and a splash of joy~

Rev. Dr. Carole R. Barner


The responsive prayer that Eden Seminary shared as a resource for churches during this event.

Join us for this year’s Spring Convocation themed “Theological Education for a Joy-Filled Future.”  This two-day event will examine the means by which we inspire joy for the future.  As always, the Convocation will include worship, lectures and presentations, student juried papers, and opportunities to visit with new and old friends.

Dr. David Greenhaw has been serving as president of Eden Theological Seminary for 23 years.  In light of upcoming retirement at the end of June and a Spring Convocation theme on the future of theological education, Dr.  Greenhaw will lead a conversation on Tuesday afternoon and will preach at the closing worship on Wednesday afternoon.

Also speaking during this event will be Dr. Daniel Aleshire, Former Director of the Association of Theological Schools and Dr. Steven Ray, President, Chicago Theological Seminary.

This will be a time to interact with current students in their academic and ministerial work and re-connect with members of your graduating class at the Tuesday evening reception and program.

There will be Special welcome for recent Eden Alumni of classes of 2015-2019 and a Dinner with the President to honor classes celebrating 45th – 50th anniversaries. Special honors for those 50th anniversary alumni.

Members of the Eden Black Alumni Association meet for Breakfast, 7:30 am in Schroer Commons. Separate registration required.

If you need housing, options you might explore are available online as well.

Registration is open. All participants, including current students, please register.

This month Eden Seminary will be hosting a series called ‘Black and Brown Lives Matter’.  There will be seven events covering numerous topics from diversity, LGBTQ+ clergy, and matters of black families and women. Also offered is a chance to watch the “Just Mercy” documentary and partake in a discussion after. Included is an African American read-in during the last week of February featuring any topic from an African author. We at Eden hope to see you there!

For more information or to sign up for the read-in, please contact  Rev. Sonja Williams at [email protected].