The Trustees and Faculty of Christian Theological Seminary hosted a formal Commencement Ceremony to present Candidates for Degrees and graduate the 2023 Spring Class on Saturday, May 20, 2023.
Highly respected cleric, writer, professor, gospel artist, and social justice advocate Bishop Yvette A. Flunder delivered the keynote address. Bishop Flunder, a third-generation preacher with roots in the Church of God in Christ, was ordained by Bishop Walter Hawkins of Love Center Ministries, where she served as Associate Pastor and administrator for Love Center Church. She performed and recorded gospel music with "Walter Hawkins and the Family" and the Love Center Choir. Rev. Dr. Flunder served as Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, a multi-denominational coalition of over 100 primarily African American Christian leaders and laity. She worked tirelessly to bring awareness and direct response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and championed human rights.
This year, CTS conferred honorary degrees to recognize Bishop Yvette A. Flunder, Rev. Dr. William Lee, and Rev. Dr. Wallace McLaughlin.
Rev. Dr. William Lee, a distinguished and instrumental leader for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), served as the General Moderator for the Disciples of Christ in the US & Canada. He also acted as an unofficial mediator for church congregations, judicatories, and national denominations. Rev. Dr. Lee was 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 advocated and led in the Faith-Health Movement. Additionally, Rev. Dr. Lee was described as a preacher's preacher, a pastor's pastor, and a gifted speaker and teacher who transcended racial, ethnic, and religious boundaries and ideologies.
Rev. Dr. Wallace McLaughlin, the recently retired President and CEO of Fathers and Families Resource and Research Center, traveled extensively, providing missionary work in Haiti, Brazil, and Ecuador. Currently, he serves as Pastor of Covenant Community Church in Indianapolis. As a founding Board Member of the National Practitioners Network for Fathers and Families, Rev. Dr. McLaughlin 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 served on national boards, state task forces, and became a national speaker, trainer, and consultant on issues of fatherhood and program development.
CTS was proud to honor Trustee of the Board and longtime supporter Rev. Richard L. Spleth as the 2023 recipient of the Presidential Award of Excellence. This award was presented to an alumnus or friend of the Seminary whose life and accomplishments earned the respect of their industry, profession, or community.
Rev. Spleth served as the Regional Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Indiana for over 20 years from 2001 to 2023. Ordained in 1978, Rev. Spleth served as a pastor to Christian Church congregations in Kentucky, Iowa, Indiana, and Texas from 1976 to 2001. During his career, Spleth served as a leader with many organizations and initiatives, including the Disciples Community in the Congo, grant organizations like FLOURISH!, which addressed clergy debt, the Indiana Interchurch Center Board, and Global Ministries of the Christian Church and the United Church of Christ. Church leadership is a legacy in Rev. Spleth's family – his extended family includes 7 Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) ministers, and his wife, Rev. Diane Spleth, is a retired minister in the same denomination.
Music License Information:
Come, We Who Love God’s Name
Used by Permission / One License L-541261.
Tune: Marching to Zion. S.M. with refrain.
Robert Lowry, 1867. Alternate setting: St. Thomas
Sing a New Church
Used by Permission / One License L-541261. Delores Dufner,
OSB, ©1991, The Sisters of St. Benedict.
Published by OCP. Tune: NETTLETONRobert Lowry, 1867.
Alternate setting: St. Thomas
God’s Got the Whole World in Their Hands
Dr. Jillian Harrison-Jones
We Shall Overcome
Tune: We Shall Overcome. Irr
Partial Text: C.A. Tindley