Robertson to Class of 2023 Graduates: ‘Your words and your actions will save lives’

On Saturday, May 20, Church Divinity School of the Pacific held its 128th Annual Commencement Exercises in St. Margaret’s Courtyard on campus.

The Rt. Rev. Kirk Smith, Ph.D., interim president and dean, presided at the ceremony, welcomed participants and guests, and congratulated the Class of 2023.

Church Robertson speech photo

“We gather at a time that is full of both anxiety and opportunity,” he said. “Our graduates are up to the task of preaching the gospel to a hurting world.”

The Rev. Canon C. K. Robertson, Ph.D., canon for ministry beyond The Episcopal Church to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, offered the commencement address.

“This day—this great day—you go forth from here as heralds, as hope-givers, as prayer-leaders, as dream-makers,” Robertson said. “Your words and your actions will, quite literally, save lives, often in ways that you may not even know the full extent.
However dimly, light will shine … through you.”

He went on to caution students about challenges in ministry, particularly what he called “the myth of the golden age and the comfort of the familiar.” He continued, quoting the day’s reading from Acts 11,

“And it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.” … Something wonderful had begun in Jerusalem … but what happened in Antioch was, in Paul’s words later, nothing less than “a new creation!”

The ceremony continued with the awarding of student prizes and honorary degrees as well as conferring degrees and certificates for the Class of 2023. The Rev. Ruth A. Meyers, Ph.D., was also specially recognized by Dr. Sharon J. Hardy, chair of the executive committee of the Board of Trustees, for exemplary service as dean of academic affairs since 2012.

Commencement was livestreamed by a media team from Trinity Church Wall Street and is available for replay viewing below or at

CDSP Student Award Winners

  • The Right Rev. Richard Millard Prize for Excellence in Preaching: Elizabeth (Betsy) McElroy
  • The Fran Toy Prize for Multicultural Ministry at a Field Education Site: Angela Furlong
  • Episcopal Preaching Foundation Award: Mees Tielens
  • Lawrence Kristin Mikkelsen Preaching Scholarship: Emily Hyberg (Class of 2024) 
  • Kellor Smith Scholarship for Youth Ministry: Michael Heller (Class of 2024) 

Honorary Degree Recipients

Summaries of recipient bios available here

  • Dr. Esther Mombo
  • The Rev. Mary Morrison ’00
  • The Rev. Canon C. K. Robertson, Ph.D.

Class of 2023 Graduates

Certificate of Study

  • Giacomo Belloli, Ph.D.

Certificate of Anglican Studies

  • Elizabeth Ann Moriarty, B.A., M.Div., M.N.A.
  • C. Susanne Wright-Nava, B.A., M.F.A., M.Div.

Certificate of Theological Studies

  • Grenold Thomas Coffee, B.M.*
  • Anna Marie Gonzalez, B.A.
  • Laura Jane King, B.S., M.D., M.M.M.

* expected to graduate in October, 2023

Degree of Master of Divinity

  • Annalise Brittany Deal, B.A.
  • Angela Elizabeth Furlong, B.S., M.S.
  • Ashley L Gurling, B.A.
  • Timothy Paul Hartley, B.A.
  • Linda Christine Jackson, B.A.
  • Luke Martinez, B.A, M.A.
  • Elizabeth Abbott-Wells McElroy, B.S., M.S.Ed.
  • Michael Angel Molina, C.T.S.*
  • Bertram Anthony Emmanuel Nagarajah, B.S.E.E., M.S.E.E., ENGR., Ph.D.
  • Kathryn Honor Nishibayashi, B.A., M.A.*
  • Jeckonia Otieno Okoth, B.A.
  • Mees Miles Tielens, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.

* expected to graduate in October, 2023

Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

  • Sean D. Albrecht, B.A., M.A. — Dissertation: “A Broken Record: Trauma’s Failure of Signification in the Structure and Formation of the Book of Jeremiah”

Ceremony Replay