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Taylor delivers 2006 Baccalaureate sermon

Barbara Brown Taylor, an Episcopal priest and professor of religion at Piedmont College, gave the Baccalaureate sermon at Elon University on Friday, May 19. Details…

Taylor spoke to a crowd of graduating seniors, their families and members of the Elon community in Alumni Gymnasium. Her address focused on “the problem of the stranger,” which she said is as old as humankind.

“Strangers come in all colors, shapes and sizes,” she said, noting that Elon students who have studied abroad know how it feels to be considered a stranger. “If someone had not been willing to befriend you when you were the stranger, you would have been utterly lost,” she said.

Taylor told the graduating seniors that God cares for strangers, and by befriending those who are different, they can learn about themselves. “When you share the world, your world gets larger, not smaller,” she said.

Taylor graduated from Emory University in 1973 and Yale Divinity School in 1976. She spent 15 years in parish ministry before moving into full-time teaching in 1997. She has lectured on preaching and has preached at churches across the country, earning a place on Baylor University’s 1995 list of the 12 most effective preachers in the English language.

A columnist for The Christian Century and commentator for Georgia Public Radio, Taylor is the author of ten books, including “When God Is Silent” and “Home By Another Way.” Her most recent book, “Leaving Church,” is a vocational memoir due out in 2006.

Taylor concluded her talk by telling students that they are ready for the world.

“You are what hope looks like,” she said. “I cannot think of a better message to send the world than you.”

Elon’s 116th commencement exercises are scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Saturday, May 20 Under the Oaks in front of West Residence Hall on the Elon campus.

Mandy Byrd and David Hibbard,
5/19/2006 5:03 PM