Community Worship

Rev. Dr. Dean McDonald honors baptism
Feb. 10, 2012

Just as chapel is an integral part of daily life at San Francisco Theological Seminary, Community Worship was intentionally woven into Inauguration Weekend.

More than 200 people, many from out of state, flocked to First Presbyterian Church, San Anselmo, to participate in the Community Worship Service and officially kick off Inauguration Weekend.

Rev. Dr. Dean McDonald, the wife of President James L. McDonald, preached for the first time at a SFTS worship service since arriving here in July 2011. Among her many experiences, Dean McDonald directed the College of Preachers at Washington National Cathedral for five years and was a frequent preacher and worship leader in the Cathedral’s services.  

The opening worship service set the tone for the weekend’s emphasis on the connection between sacrament and justice, as community members were invited to remember their baptism. McDonald’s sermon highlighted the connection between baptism and discipleship. “Baptism calls us into the world to serve,” she said.

The gathered community was encouraged to think back to when they were baptized, and for the many who were baptized as newborns or toddlers, they were able to “remember” their baptism with an anointing.  As the community came forward, each person received the sign of a cross on their forehead, with a loving reminder, “Remember your baptism, and give thanks.”  Smiles, gentle hugs and a few quiet tears graced the tenderness of the moment.

“We rejoice that you claimed us in our baptism, and that by your grace we are born anew,” the community read together as part of the Litany of Remembering our Baptism.

The service also featured the Seminary Singers, who sang a special arrangement of the Doxology. Following Community Worship, the celebration moved to Alexander Hall for community lunch, where members of the SFTS board of trustees, faculty, staff, students and guests from throughout the United States shared a spirit of fellowship that continued throughout the weekend.


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