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Students and families gather for Baccalaureate

Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly with God. For the Rev. Janet Cooper Nelson, the chaplain of Brown University who delivered a sermon May 22 at Elon University's Baccalaurate, graduates should follow those simple lessons as they embark on their life journeys.

An estimated 2,000 people gathered in Alumni Gym for the Baccalaureate sermon on May 22, 2009.

The Baccalaureate address was delivered to an estimated 2,000 people in Alumni Gym, including students, parents, faculty and staff, on the eve of Commencement 2009. Nelson touched on many themes in her sermon, including the need for graduates to make the most of the opportunities they’ve been provided at Elon.

“It’s not enough to take the privilege of an education, Class of 2009, and hide it under a bushel,” she said. “You’ve been headed here all along, and now, surrounded by those who love you, you head out.”

Nelson also spoke highly of Elon University and praised its reputation among university administrators in the north. She then lauded Richard McBride, Elon’s own chaplain, who will deliver the Commencement address on May 23

“Everybody’s talking about Elon. Everybody,” she said. “It’s that hot school that no one can get into!”

Ordained in 1980 by the United Church of Christ, Nelson preaches and consults to religious and academic institutions. She was honored in 1996 with Harvard Divinity School's Rabbi Martin Katzenstein Distinguished Alumna award.

Her 1990 appointment to responsibilities with Brown University followed comparable posts at Vassar and Mount Holyoke, and as associate pastor at The Church of Christ at Dartmouth College. She is a long-term member of the supervisory faculty for fieldwork placements from Harvard Divinity School and the Boston Theological Institute.

She is past president of The Association for College and University Religious Affairs and edited its journal Dialogue. She serves on the visiting committee for The Lincoln School, the Leadership Council for Harvard Divinity School, Home and Hospice Care of Rhode Island and Brown/RISD Hillel Foundation.

The ceremony featured an invocation and benediction from the Rev. Deven A. Hubert and the Rev. Mark P. Bruesehoff, respectively, both of whom are parents to Elon seniors who graduate this spring.

J. Parker McAllister, a pending graduate who transferred to Elon from Tulane after Hurricane Katrina, offered remembrances of Elon on behalf of the senior class.

Eric Townsend,
5/22/2009 5:08 PM