Yolanda Pierce, Ph.D.
To all our new students: welcome to the Howard University School of Divinity and to the journey you will begin this week. And to all our returning students, faculty, and staff: a hearty welcome back to our Beloved Community.
This has been a challenging summer for our nation. We begin the school year on the heels of gun violence all around us, including rising homicide rates in DC and Baltimore. We’re dealing with massacres as the result of domestic terrorism and white supremacy. We’re witnessing heartless cruelty at our southern borders. Our elders, including Toni Morrison and Paule Marshall, as well as those in our own families, are being called to rest from their labors. We are understandably overwhelmed with the troubles around us, in our communities and neighborhoods, and throughout the nation and the world.
In the midst of this chaos, in the midst of storms both private and public, we begin a new semester of academic study. And while it may seem counterintuitive, please know that the work of theological education is needed now more than ever in this broken and fractured world. How are you being equipped to bind the wounds of the suffering? What must you learn in order to speak life into hopeless situations? What skills and tools do you need to grieve with those who mourn? How are you being prepared to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with the “least of these?”
It is my hope and prayer that this academic year is a time of learning, understanding, preparation, growth, challenge, stretching, and deep study. Proverbs 4:7 (NRSV) powerfully reminds us: “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever else you get, get insight.” May you be blessed with wisdom and insight for Academic Year 2019-2020 and beyond.