The History of Trailblazers at Union Theological Seminary
For many students of the African Diaspora at Union, past and present, it has been the commitment and courage of those African American scholars who have already passed through Union’s doors that continue to inspire excellence in ministry. These Black Alumni/ae dared to discover and engage their own theological voices and because of this, we who follow them are propelled to cultivate bold and prophetic leadership in the church, the academy and the world.
In 2001, a few of the African American alumni/ae initiated a Union Black Alumni/ae Association. They reached out to many other alumni/ae that did return to Union for a memorable reunion and reconnected with each other and the institution. It was a few years later, in February of 2004 that the Black Caucus and Black Women’s Caucus of Union hosted the inaugural Trailblazers worship service and celebration. This formal tribute was the embodiment of the organizers vision to continue the Association’s efforts and build on it, in order to connect the powerful legacy of spirituality and strength among the distinguished list of Black Alumni/ae and the current students of African decent. The goal of Trailblazers is primarily to provide an opportunity to honor the ministerial work of Union’s Black Alumni/ae as well as provide a forum for organizing around important and shared social justice issues.
Trailblazers culminates in a candle lighting ceremony where participants collectively repeat the phrase, “We commit to pass it on…” and pass the flame of their candles – originally lit by a Union alumni/ae Trailblazer and a current student, on to the next person. That flame is symbolic of the light passed on to us from those who came before, and the light that will continue to blaze the trail for the next generation.
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