Posted: October 16, 2007
The Reverend Gladys G. Moore, an ordained Lutheran minister for 22 years, "always had a yen to be in academia," according to her older sister Lillian Scoggins. She was among the family, friends, and colleagues who came to witness and celebrate Moore's installation on Sunday, October 14, as Mount Holyoke's new dean of religious and spiritual life and director of diversity and inclusion.
Sunday's solemn ceremony in Abbey Chapel, which included two bishops, can in some respects be traced to an email sent a year ago. That is when crew coach Jeanne Friedman alerted Moore that a search was on to fill the position. The two had been best friends through four years at the Philadelphia High School for Girls. They were "inseparable," said Friedman's mother, Evelyn Richman, who Moore introduced to the gathered guests as her "mother number two."
The sermon, delivered by the Rev. Barbara K. Lundblad, professor of preaching at Union Theological Seminary, delved into current political issues, ranging from the illegality of the American prison camp in Guantanamo, Cuba, to how the military budget for one day could save a million African children from malaria, to race relations as illustrated by nooses as symbols of intimidation in Jena, Louisiana, and New York City.
Social awareness and the emphasis on interfaith consciousness, embedded in the service in the form of a benediction delivered by an array of spiritual advisors that included Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist members of the Mount Holyoke community, set the tone. The College's ideal of "purposeful engagement in the world" is one of the reasons she is thrilled to be here, said Moore after the ceremony.
Mount Holyoke College President Joanne V. Creighton called Moore a "sprightly presence with clear-sighted wisdom," likening the event to a marriage between the College and its newest dean.
The installation was performed by Bishop Margaret G. Payne, who heads the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). As it happens, she too went to the Philadelphia High School for Girls. Both Payne and Moore praised the role of educational institutions for women.
Among those participating in the October 14 service was Natasha Gutierrez '09, a biology major who is in the midst of a religious conversion from Catholicism to Judaism. She said Moore, who assumed her position in July, has been a friend and a mentor during her spiritual journey.
Also playing a role in the service was Bishop Roy Riley, who heads the New Jersey synod of the ELCA. Moore served as his assistant for 16 years before coming to Mount Holyoke. "This is a very significant change" for Moore, he said. Her former duties included urban ministry and faith-based community organizing around issues such as affordable housing, childcare, and immigrant rights, said Riley, adding, "she has great insight into human beings, a great perspective on the world, and a deep love of the diversity of God's creation." Riley also called Moore a "gifted leader" as well as a talented singer and musician who plays guitar and trumpet.
Moore has come to the campus often to visit with Jeanne Friedman over the last decade and a half, but she has yet to preach at Mount Holyoke. That will change this Sunday, October 21, when she delivers the sermon for the school's Protestant service. It will also be the twenty-third anniversary of her ordination.