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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Divinity Holds Convocation

School Celebrates 175th Anniversary in Memorial Church

By Nicole D. Maurer, Contributing Reporter

The Harvard Divinity School commemorated its 175th anniversary with a festival convocation in Memorial Church last night.

In a welcoming speech, Ronald F. Thiemann, the Divinity School's dean, praised the school's "tradition of academic excellence and public service" and its "continuing mission of scholarship and service in an ever-changing world."

The ceremony included readings from broad ranges of scripture, historical writing and contemporary words from faculty members.

Selections were taken from the Bhagavad Gita, the Greek New Testament, works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and New England's First Fruits. The latter is the earliest account of the work of Harvard College students and faculty.

The readings were intended to represent the diversity of popular thinking at the school, according to a Divinity School spokesperson.

Other speeches addressed such issues as the challenge of religious pluralism and the role of the feminist scholar in religion.

"How we address the role of pluralism and the implications of a multicultural and multiracial society is a fundamental issue for American society," Said John B. Carman, Parkman professor of Divinity.

"It is important that the theological conversation today be open to as many groups and traditions as possible," Carman said.

After additional prayers, hymns, and choral music by the Harvard University Choir, the ceremony closed with a blessing by the Reverend Peter J. Gomes, Plummer professor Christian Morals.

The celebrations at the Divinity School, the oldest non-sectarian the ological school in the United States, will continue today with a series of forums on religion's role in modern society.

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