Gordon in the News: last updated 06/12/2009

Commencement Speaker David Batstone Calls Forth "A Generation of Justice: Gen J"

May 28, 2009
Jo Kadlecek
Office of College Communications

WENHAM, MA—"No matter what the news says, it's an ideal time to graduate because at what time has the world needed you more than now? It's a brilliant time to graduate. We just need to be ready to listen. And as students of a Christian liberal arts education, we've learned how to learn, how to respond. So you're graduating at a perfect time to address the needs of a world crying for help. We need a smart generation, a just generation. The models we have are broken. Name yourself a generation of justice. Gen J."

Dr. David Batstone, professor of ethics in the department of theology and religious studies at the University of San Francisco and co-founder of the Not For Sale Campaign to end human trafficking, spoke at the 117th Commencement under a perfect spring sky on the Quad. His address, "Many Are Called, But Few Answer," was a stirring and personal charge to view this time as an opportunity to listen as God brings the questions of vocational call to us. That will require graduates "to be ready, to thank others, to keep open, listen more, talk less. You don't have to go looking for your call; it's all around you. Instead ask yourself, What can I do for the world? What can I bring to the world?"

Batstone emphasized the need for Gen J to "use innovation that creates sustainability and addresses the needs of the world." He cited several examples of individuals who were responding to their passion and in the process stumbled onto innovative ways to meet the needs of those around them.  "Learning and risking are a part of being human, so how can we take (what we've learned) and create smart and deep activism in all we do, activism that brings about lasting change?"

The evening before, at the Baccalaureate worship service, the Class of 2009 was addressed by another modern-day abolitionist, Dr. Gloria White-Hammond, co-pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston and co-founder of My Sister's Keeper, a ministry that partners with women in war-torn Sudan.

"The class of 2009 is the largest graduating class in recent history," she said, "leaving college to enter the worst economic state in recent years. How do you do the right thing? Step up in courage, step out in faith and step forward in determination." White-Hammond's sermon, "Just Do it!" pulled the Nike slogan back to its roots in Scripture.

She combined personal anecdotes from her experiences as a physician with three steps for graduates to go forward: "Step up in courage and you'll find either a good place or a God-place," she said. "When you step out in faith, you come to a point where you realize Jesus is all you need because Jesus is all you have. And when you step forward in determination, you become the kind of world changer who keeps going because you know God loves you and you want to love him back," she said.

The service included favorite hymns ("Come Thou Fount," "Great is Thy Faithfulness" and "Be Thou My Vision"); scripture readings (Psalm 1:1-6; Hebrews 10:32-39), the Apostle's Creed; prayers from Chapel Dean Greg Carmer and parents Barry Loy and Ann Seavey; and the candle lighting.

Almost 350 undergraduates from 11 countries and over 20 states received diplomas.


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