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2023 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients


On May 20, 2023, CTS will host its Commencement celebration of 32 future counselors, ministers, and leaders ready to transform lives and the world. This year’s celebration will offer special recognition of 3 honorary degree recipients and the 2nd annual Presidential Award of Excellence.

Bishop Yvette Flunder headshot.Receiving an Honorary Doctor of Divinity and delivering the keynote address at the ceremony will be Bishop Yvette A. Flunder. Bishop Flunder is a highly respected cleric, writer, professor, gospel artist, and social justice advocate who founded the City of Refuge United Church of Christ in San Francisco, a thriving inner-city congregation that celebrates the radically inclusive love of Jesus Christ. She is a third-generation preacher with roots in the Church of God in Christ and was ordained by the Bishop Walter Hawkins of Love Center Ministries, where she served as Associate Pastor and administrator for Love Center Church. She has performed and recorded gospel music with “Walter Hawkins and the Family” and the Love Center Choir. Rev. Dr. Flunder serves as Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, a multi-denominational coalition of over 100 primarily African American Christian leaders and laity. She has worked tirelessly to bring awareness and direct response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and is a champion for human rights.

Also receiving the Honorary Doctor of Divinity is Rev. Dr. William Lee, a distinguished and instrumental leader for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He has served as the General Moderator for the Disciples of Christ in the US & Canada, as well as an unofficial mediator for church congregations, judicatories, and national denominations. Rev. Dr. Lee serves at the forefront of social justice witness through innovative partnerships to provide health care for “the least, the last, and the lost” within the Greater Roanoke, VA region. He is an advocate and leader in the Faith-Health Movement. In addition, Rev. Dr. Lee is described as a preacher’s preacher, a pastor’s pastor, and a gifted speaker and teacher who transcends racial, ethnic, and religious boundaries and ideologies.

Rev. Dr. Wallace McLaughlin will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Rev. Dr. Wallace is the recently retired President and CEO of Fathers and Families Resource and Research Center. He has traveled extensively, providing missionary work in Haiti, Brazil, and Ecuador. Currently, he serves as Pastor of Covenant Community Church in Indianapolis. A founding Board Member of the National Practitioners Network for Fathers and Families, Rev. Dr. McLaughlin has centered his ministry around young fathers in need of resources to put them on paths of self-sufficiency, helping them provide for their children and thereby building stronger families and communities. He has served on national boards, state task forces, and is a national speaker, trainer, and consultant on issues of fatherhood and program development.

CTS is proud to honor CTS Trustee of the Board and longtime supporter Rev. Richard L. Spleth as the 2023 recipient of the Presidential Award of Excellence. This award is presented to an alumnus or friend of the Seminary whose life and accomplishments have earned the respect of their industry, profession, or community. Spleth served as the Regional Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Indiana for over 20 years from 2001-2023.

As the CTS community celebrates its 2023 graduates and their achievements, we look forward to hearing the keynote message from Bishop Yvette Flunder and recognizing these honorary degree and award recipients for the ways they embody CTS’ values and have served God’s transforming of the world.