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Eaton sends off Thiel College graduates with message ‘to make the world a better place’


Eaton sends off Thiel College graduates with message ‘to make the world a better place’

GREENVILLE, Pa.—The Reverend Elizabeth A. Eaton, M.Div., the first female presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree and sent off Thiel College’s 238 graduates Sunday with a moving address that compelled them to “make the world a better place.”

“You are going to be sent out into the world to make the world a better place,” Bishop Eaton said. “That’s your calling. Spend your lives lavishly in service to (your) neighbor and that neighbor might be somebody here in Greenville or it may be somebody in Pakistan, in China, in Baltimore—anywhere.”

Her address “Religion vs. Reason?” compelled the more than 2,000 attendees that religion and science are not mutually exclusive.

“This life, this world is precious. It’s worth living, and it’s worth serving,” she said. “We don’t have to exclude science or exclude religion. There is a middle way.”

Eaton spoke to the graduates during Thiel College’s 141st Commencement ceremony at the William A. Passavant Memorial Center on campus.

“A respected and inspirational leader, Bishop Eaton’s words serve as a great launching point for our graduates as they embark on their own trailblazing journey,” President Troy D. VanAken, Ph.D., said.

Along with the conferring of undergraduate degrees and Bishop Eaton’s honorary degree, Thiel College Professor of Psychology Beth Parkinson, Ph.D., was awarded distinguished emerita faculty honors. She is retiring after 29 years of teaching at Thiel College.

About Thiel College

Thiel College is a private liberal arts institution founded in the Lutheran tradition. Located in Greenville, Pa., the College offers 60 majors and minors, 24 varsity sports, and an 11:1 student-faculty ratio. A dedicated faculty paired with dynamic research and internship opportunities produce numerous graduate school and job placements. Coeducational from its beginnings, the College celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2016 and remains committed to combining tradition with innovation.

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