A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Nicole C. Ball, Church Relations Officer

(left to right) Nicole Childress Ball, 2011 alum and Church Relations Officer; Rev. Dr. Bill Klein, 1954 alum and Pastor Emeritus; Rev. Elizabeth N.H. Link, 2009 alum and Associate Pastor
(left to right) Nicole C. Ball, 2011 alum and Church Relations Officer; Rev. Dr. Bill Klein, 1954 alum and Pastor Emeritus; Rev. Elizabeth N.H. Link, 2009 alum and Associate Pastor.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance, the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

On Sunday, November 1st, All Saints Sunday, I had the pleasure of sharing a presentation at Second Presbyterian Church in Roanoke, Virginia. It was after discussion with a fellow classmate and alum, Rev. Elizabeth N.H. Link, that I received the invitation for a visit.

During their “Pop-Up Sunday School” hour, which is a monthly class offering a variety of topics and discussion, nearly 25 folks gathered to hear about the rich history between Union Presbyterian Seminary and Second Presbyterian Church, Roanoke.

It was a real honor to be introduced by the Rev. Dr. William Klein, Pastor Emeritus and 1954 Union Theological Seminary graduate. It is not hard to see why Dr. Klein is such a beloved figure in the life of Second Presbyterian Church. He and his wife, Dot, have remained steadfast in their dedication to the life and ministry of the congregation long after his retirement from serving as Senior Pastor from 1968-1997. And his dedication to the furthering of God’s Kingdom in the wider Church shines through in his service to Union Presbyterian Seminary.

Dr. Klein held positions on the board of our great institution, seeing us through many transitions and periods of growth. He served on the Board of Union Theological Seminary (UTS) from 1980-1989, then again from 1994-1997. When Union Theological Seminary and the Presbyterian School of Christian Education (PSCE) became federated in 1997, Dr. Klein served one more year from 1997-1998.

Another incredibly influential figure in the life of both Second Presbyterian Church and Union Theological Seminary was the late Barbara Lemon, who served on the UTS Board from 1994-1997 and the Union-PSCE Board from 1997-2002. In the upcoming Richmond Hall renovation, the Barbara Lemon Community Center will be dedicated to honor her support and contributions to theological education at Union Presbyterian Seminary.

During Dr. Klein’s introductory remarks, it was palpable to hear his love and dedication to Union Presbyterian Seminary. But it was his historic recollection of the relationship between Second Presbyterian Church and Union Presbyterian Seminary which set the foundation for my presentation to come. Second Presbyterian Church has been pastored by 3 ministers in the past 73 years, all of whom were Union graduates. 7 of the 9 Associate Pastors have been graduates and 11 church members have sought their theological education from Union. Their dedication to strong pastoral leadership and sound biblical education from Union graduates is exemplary to the wider Church. On such an important Sunday in our liturgical calendar, it was a joy to share in the celebration of those saints who faithfully served this congregation and the wider Kingdom. Thanks be to God!

You can find more information about the mission initiatives, historical leadership of Second Presbyterian Church, and its relationship to Union Presbyterian Seminary by visiting their website: www.spres.org

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