Good morning Chancellor Kline, President King, Faculty, Board, Corporation, alumni, friends, and classmates. The best news I have for you today is that I have the shortest speech of the morning. We really, as a class, don't have a whole lot to say—we're going to save that for Sunday mornings. But as a group, collectively, we want to say 'thank you.' We know we have this huge debt—financial debt, too, don't worry, we didn't forget about that, but we're working on the gratitude debt today.
We thought it would be great to start with our wives. It seems that we did a bit of a bait and switch on our wives, because all of us had real jobs before we did this, and then one day we had this conversation that couldn't have helped but sounded like: 'Sweetheart, I'd like to uproot our family, move to a new city—or country for some of us—take a big pay cut, and then when we're done, we're going to let this organization move us around the world wherever they want to for the rest of our lives.' Sounds good, right? But the wives knew better. They knew that, for us, this was a shot at taking our dream job. Not just a job that we wanted to do, but a job we felt called to do. But, since none of us are getting any younger, it was good to do this before we got any older. I can't see the wives because of the light, but I know most of you are there. Taryn, Daniella, Maggie, Deborah, Jen, and Tatiana, we'll always love you.
But this little conversation, as difficult as it might have been, wouldn't have had a chance to take place if not for the Corporation and the Board and strong support from the General Church and Academy. And we really are truly, very grateful for everything you've given us in the past three years. We know it's not been an easy decision to support us in the way you have but we really do appreciate how it's transformed education at the Theological School. And so while we know that there are a lot of people behind us that have supported our dream and made this happen, on a day-to-day basis, we've had to deal with Andy Dibb.
Andy has worked really hard over the last number of years to help us in our education and to improve the program. And when I say 'help' and 'improve', I mean, he was willing to make us do more work. He was always happy to find free spots in our schedule and give us more homework, more classes, more duties, and more things to do. Without Andy, we might have actually gotten out of here sane. But, seriously, we really do appreciate everything you did for us. His striving for constant improvement was real. And his dedication to providing us every opportunity to succeed when we leave here will always be remembered. So, we really appreciate everything you've done for us over the past three years, and we know there's one other co-conspirator you've had with you. And that is Grant Odhner.
See, he was tasked with teaching us old dogs new tricks, but the problem was, when we all came to Theological School, I think we all thought we knew something about the Writings. However, judging by the amount of red ink on our papers, it was clear that Grant disagreed. Sometimes we'd talk amongst ourselves and wonder, were we causing the Academy's budget deficit? Was all the red pens from Staples really that expensive? Because he had to go through a lot of them. But more than just a guy with a red pen, Grant, you were a mentor. All the tough love, all the scholarship, all of the nuance to scholarship, has served us very well. If nothing else, we did learn that researching the Writings was more than just using NewSearch. And we really appreciate you being willing to give us the tough love when we needed it, and we needed it.
There are a lot of other people here I could thank today: dissertation advisors, experiential learning coordinators, the General Church community at large you've all been wonderful and helped us through our path to become better pastors. But it wouldn’t be a Theological School valedictory if I didn’t do a proper thanking of the Lord. Because He’s the one who orchestrated all of this. Without the Lord our wives wouldn’t have been chosen to have said 'Yes, we’ll go along.' The Board wouldn’t have been inspired to say ‘yeah, we’ll finance these crazy old guys’. The Lord has worked in wonderful ways to orchestrate this whole event and for bringing all of you into our lives. And, for that, we’re really thankful. And we’ll never forget the kindness that the Lord has given, and all of you have given us over the last three years. Thank you.”