BETHANY, W.Va. – Called a personal and professional mentor by Bethany College President Tamara Rodenberg, Rev. Julia Brown Karimu displayed pure joy on stage as she received an honorary doctorate of divinity from Rev. Dr. Rodenberg and the Bethany Board of Trustees during the College’s 179thCommencement ceremony, May 11.

Karimu, a Mississippi native who serves as president of the Division of Overseas Ministries of the Christian Church – Disciples of Christ (DOC) and as co-executive of Global Ministries, addressed the graduates during Friday’s Baccalaureate, where she shared wisdom and strategies for “Owning Our Privilege,” the title of her remarks.

“You have been privileged with the intellectual ability to excel academically,” Karimu said. “You have been privileged with the discipline to remain steadfast as you pursued your degree. You have been privileged to live in a world for such a time as this.

“My sending forth prayer for you this evening is that you will decide to use your privilege, the precious privilege given to you by God, to transform the world into one in which the dignity of all people is respected, that your core will sustain you for this journey, and that you will be open to God’s surprises.”

Founded by Alexander Campbell in 1840, Bethany College was the first college to be affiliated with DOC. This religious body, of which Campbell was one of the principal founders, continues to support and encourage the College.

Throughout its history, Bethany has regularly invited DOC leaders and influencers to speak at events, including Rev. Teresa Hord Owens, general minister and president of the Christian Church (DOC), who was invited to speak at the College’s Founder’s Day Convocation earlier this year.

Ordained by the Christian Church (DOC) in 1990, Karimu has a strong presence of involvement in the DOC church both personally and professionally, as her job requires her to travel the world to be a witness of DOC.

Board of Trustees member Rev. Dr. Janet Long, disciples minister and senior pastor of Washington Avenue Christian Church, introduced Karimu for the well-deserved honor during Commencement and officially welcomed her into the Bethany family.

“I am so honored by this,” said Karimu, explaining that global engagement opportunities caused her to miss out on her own commencement ceremonies both at Jackson State University and Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“And so this is my first real commencement,” she squealed. “Thank you, and God bless you.”

About Bethany College

Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.