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  • William Bobby McClain speaks at 2019 meeting of Black Methodists for Church Renewal in Atlanta. File photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

    BU STH Honors Rev. Dr. William Bobby McClain (STH '62, '77), Civil Rights Advocate, 1938-2020

    Listen to the words of Rev. Dr. McClain as he speaks on equality at an alumni lecture honoring the 50th anniversary of the March on Selma.

  • Nathan Bakken

    Nathan Bakken shares a sermon during STH Wednesday community worship on LGBTQIA+ and theology.

  • Alums Submit Their Stories!

    David Restrick, Milton Efthimiou, Kenneth Heflin, Richard Cullen, Dennis Hett, Marceline Donaldson, Wayne Walther, and Alan Rhodes have all submitted alumni biography entries. We encourage you to do the same!

  • Do you know a famous prophet?

    Do you have an idea for an article for our "famous prophets" section? Perhaps you've written an article on someone who is not yet represented on the site. If you have an idea, email sjlloyd@bu.edu. Painting by Rembrandt, Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, currently at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

  • The Rev. Gilbert Caldwell, a civil rights activist and retired United Methodist pastor, speaks during a Black Lives Matter rally June 7 in Willingboro, N.J. He died Sept. 4, 2020. File photo by Aaron Wilson Watson.

    BU STH Honors The Legacy of Rev. Dr. Gil Caldwell (STH '58)

    Rev. Dr. Gil Caldwell (STH '58), 1933-2020, a leader in the civil rights movement, and later an ally to LGBTQIA+ people, died in September 2020. His legacy of work continues on. Watch this clip from an alumni panel discussion from 2013.

  • Lyle Lieder

    Lyle Lieder (1947) has recently given the People's History website some of his reflections on what BU has meant to him. We encourage you to check them out!

The history of the School of Theology is written though the lives of its students and graduates.  Decisions by the Board of Trustees, statistical breakdowns of the student body, or the evolution of degrees can only tell one part of the history.  The people’s stories–those whose lives  animate the institution–capture the spirit of the School of Theology, and carry its legacy.81_628_lrsunderland_ref

The origins of the school, for example, do not only exist in a charter, but also in the writings of LaRoy Sunderland who argued in an Essay on a Theological Education that a school or “college of the prophets” existed in biblical times (cf. 1 Sam. 10:5).  Those  in the Bible whom God called to ministry, Sunderland maintained, were also ordinarily educated for the ministry.  Methodists, therefore, would do well to establish a similar institution of learning.  His proposal was so contentious he could not publish it through ordinary channels, and after it appeared in pamphlet form, a debate raged over the necessity of a theological institution for five years.  Ultimately, the validity of the school was not assured through attaining a charter, but through the ministries of its first graduates.  The long and faithful service of the likes of John B. Foote, John Paulson, and Rodney Gage cannot be untangled from the struggle for the school to survive.

A little over one hundred years later, Sunderland’s call for a school of the prophets developed a new resonance, as James M. Lawson graduated.  Lawson, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s tutor in non-violence, was part of a wave of students that pulled the school into a deeper and a more prophetic engagement with American culture.

His story, along with so many others, are gathered together here.  Their ministries, their writings, and their lives form the legacy of the School of Theology.  This is a people’s history of the School of the Prophets.


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