On the evening of May 7, I had the pleasure of attending an alumni reception at the San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS). As a result of the University of Redlands’ upcoming partnership with SFTS, this gorgeous campus in San Anselmo will become a home for the new Graduate School of Theology, and I am increasingly excited to see how this development will enrich our communities.
Those representing SFTS were incredibly gracious hosts. SFTS President Jim McDonald first welcomed the University’s Board of Trustees to the campus last October, so I was fortunate enough to count this as my second visit, this time in my role as president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. I am continually impressed with how bright, capable, and genuine Jim and his team are, as well as the breadth and depth of scholarship among the SFTS faculty and the dedication of its students.
As I stood atop Geneva Terrace, overlooking the misty wooded hills, I was struck by the beauty of the Marin campus. Much like the Redlands campus, it’s difficult to overstate how impressive the landscape is—although the two vistas reflect their respective locations in Northern and Southern California.
Both Jim and Ralph [Kuncl, U of R President] spoke at the event, and I was particularly moved by Ralph’s comments about the many ways that our two organizations will complement one another. I know Ralph and our University leadership are committed to preserving SFTS’s commitment to educating students in spirituality and ministry. He shared details about new degree programs the partnership will make possible, and ways we will integrate the SFTS identity and history into the University’s future.
I am fortunate to have a personal connection to SFTS. Hurmon Hamilton is the senior and founding pastor of my church, New Beginnings Community Church in Redwood City, and he earned his Master of Divinity from SFTS. I have seen firsthand how passionate he is about the seminary’s programming and vision, and I have remarked on how he succeeds in weaving social justice throughout the work of his congregation.
SFTS’s emphasis on social justice was evident on campus during our visit through several public art installations, which had themes from human trafficking to gender equity. This commitment to social justice and inclusion dovetails with what I have seen at Redlands and speaks to the alignment between our missions and cultures.
In addition to SFTS alumni, students, and friends, several U of R alumni from the Bay Area were in attendance. Imagine my surprise to encounter Lana (Skugrud) Stanley ’67, with whom I was active in the Delta Kappa Psi sorority as a student. Lana and I had not seen one another in years, and I was grateful for the opportunity to reconnect! It was our pleasure to host a similar reception for both SFTS and U of R alumni on the Redlands campus a few weeks later, providing another occasion to bring our communities together.
The Alumni Board strives to connect and engage Redlands alumni from our different schools and generations, and I see this partnership with SFTS as expanding our community and creating even more opportunities for our graduates and alumni.
For more information about the upcoming merger, see the Bulldog Blog’s “FAQ on the Redlands-SFTS partnership.”