At the Paris-Yates Chapel on the university campus, on a clear, breezy Fall afternoon, we ordained our very own Dr. Gail Stratton as minister. This is the first ordination of a Unitarian Universalist minister in Mississippi in living memory. We couldn't be more proud of the Reverend Dr. Gail Elizabeth Stratton or our congregation.
For Gail this was the culmination of five years of work, both academic and applied. Starting at the Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, Gail continued with a year-long internship at Interfaith Compassion Ministry in Oxford, 6 months at the VA Hospital in Memphis, and two years with the UU Church of Birmingham. You can learn more about the full process of arduous path to ministry, detailed in Reverend Stratton's article on UUOxford.com.
After the graduate hours, the clinical work, the Masters of Divinity degree, and a thorough credentialing process, it fell to the ordinand's own congregation to sponsor the ordination -- and UUCO certainly stepped up. Following the congregational vote to ordain Gail, UUCO launched a funding drive. The required minimum was quickly met and then greatly surpassed by generous donations from friends, family, and UUCO members past and present.
The ceremony was guided by Dr. Greg Johnson, President of the UUCO Board of Trustees. Other UUCO speakers included Marjorie Holland (Vice-President), Daniell Mattern, Eunice Benton, and Emma Scott (who delivered the youth charge to the minister). The vestment given to Reverend Stratton was a beautiful stole made by Paula Shanks, a founding member of UUCO. Music was provided by the UUCO Choir and Andrew Gordon.
Fellow ministers traveled from far and wide, including speakers Reverend Carlton Elliott Smith, Justine Sullivan, and Reverend Dr. Julie Kain. The sermon was delivered by Reverend Dr. Nicole Kirk, the Schulman Professor of Unitarian Universalist History at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.
The ceremony concluded with the laying on of hands. Reverend Stratton was surrounded by family, friends, and fellow UUCO members for the final blessing.
Read more about Gail's ordination in this Daily Mississippian article: A beautiful multitude: The ordination of Reverend Gail Stratton.