Presidential Inauguration

Greetings from the United Methodist Church

Credit: Carlos Barron

Laura A. Merrill ’84

District Superintendent, Capital District, United Methodist Church

Beloved friends and members of the Southwestern community, President Trombley:

I bring you greetings on behalf of the people of the United Methodist Church, in particular the bishops, clergy, and laity of the state of Texas. The church gave birth to Southwestern, and marks of that DNA still stand. Parts of our common history deserve critique, especially with regard to race, and the role of the church in society has changed over time. Nonetheless, the Wesleyan tradition has always counted education as integral to the life of faith, and I count it a privilege to celebrate our continued association today.

We use a lot of words to talk about the purpose of Southwestern, and we’ll hear a lot of those words today. But I want to bring one that might not otherwise be spoken—righteousness. It’s a super-religious word that conjures up images of self-righteousness, but what it actually means is right relationship, between human beings, God, and other people. Right relationship blesses and builds up; it seeks the good and uses every one of God’s gifts for the purposes of love and community. I, for one, can witness to the formation of right relationship in this place, in ways that have challenged and deepened my capacity to love and to serve others in this world.

So it is that I stand here to greet you as a grateful United Methodist, fully invested in the church’s partnership with Southwestern. I also pray God’s blessing upon you, President Trombley, in your life and your work, and upon all of us, that this Southwestern enterprise might continue to bear the fruit of right relationship, building a community of love and justice, and thereby blessing and changing the world.