Distinguished Alum Awards

1995 Alumna Rev. Sue Laurie Named Distinguished Alum

Rev. Sue Laurie

Rev. Sue Laurie, a 1995 alumna of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, has been named Distinguished Alum. In addition to Laurie, Bishop Bruce R. Ough, a 1978 alumnus, was also named Distinguished Alum (To read more about Bishop Ough click here). Each year Garrett-Evangelical chooses two alums to be honored as Distinguished Alums. One alum is chosen from the most recent 25 years of graduates, and one alum is chosen from alums who graduated over 25 years ago. Both Laurie and Ough will be honored at the 163rd Commencement service, originally scheduled for May 22, 2020, on Friday, May 14, 2021.

Laurie received her master of divinity from Garrett-Evangelical in 1995. Since her days at Garrett-Evangelical, Laurie has served as a pastor, prophet, and preacher dedicated to justice and inclusion, especially for LGBTQ+ persons in The United Methodist Church.

“As a student, Sue Laurie was a persistent prophetic voice among us, one who spoke truth and offered grace,” said Dr. Lallene J. Rector, president of Garrett-Evangelical. “She also had a wicked sense of humor when once ‘coming out’ as a math teacher/geek in a sermon she preached in the Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful while still a student. She has remained a persistent voice in the church and in the world to this very day. Garrett-Evangelical is eternally indebted to her for opening a path to a long sought public affirmation of the members of our LGBTQIA+ community and its allies.”

When Laurie and her partner, Julie Bruno, arrived at Garrett-Evangelical in the early 1990’s, they were denied seminary housing because they were not legally married, a legal right unavailable to same-sex couples at the time. Even still, they became fully involved in the seminary community. Laurie was one of the founders of Sacred Worth, the LGBTQ+ student group at Garrett-Evangelical. Two years later a student committee successfully campaigned to change the rules, allowing seminary housing for same-sex couples as a recognized family unit. Preaching on the Gospel of John 14: 15-27, Laurie offered the promise of the Holy Spirit with such confidence and grace that her calling could not be denied. Laurie was honored with the Myrtle Saylor Speer Award “given to the graduating women who have greatly contributed to the expansion of the vision of women in ministry and theological scholarship.”

As a pastor, Laurie offers and teaches with confidence in God’s love and grace. She has an ability to feel the pain of exclusion and allow it to inform the ongoing ministry of gathering and offering a different path. Laurie seeds new faith communities and supports existing ones.

As a prophet, Laurie advocates for the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons in The United Methodist Church. Laurie has participated actively in justice-seeking groups such as Love Prevails, Church Within A Church Movement, and UMForward. Serving as the National Outreach Coordinator for 8 years with Reconciling Ministries Network, Laurie traveled the United States speaking and teaching in many Annual Conferences. She has attended countless gatherings where decisions about LGBTQ+ persons are made—clergy trials, Judicial Council hearings, Council of Bishops gatherings, and General Conferences. At General Conference 2016, Laurie was ordained by her community as a testament to God’s undeniable call to ministry. Many of the United Methodist hierarchy know her by name and ministry.

As a preacher, Laurie gives witness to the Good News of Christ’s love for all people. Those familiar with Laurie’s preaching commitments often say, “Sue is a circuit rider and the world is her parish.” Laurie is known for her life-sustaining sense of humor, her integrity, and her ability to save lives and souls that may otherwise be lost to discrimination and oppression.

In one of more than twenty letters nominating Laurie as Distinguished Alum, a colleague wrote, “Sue has a pastor’s heart, a prophet’s courage, and a preacher’s passion for proclaiming the Good News in a world, a Church, and to people in deep need of Good News.” What better time than now to recognize Sue Laurie as a Distinguished Alum.

Dear Garrett Community,

I am daunted by the recognition of this award. I am surprised with a grateful heart – I feel both the intended affirmation of my ministry and the accountability to my calling. To have been a disrupter of the usual pathways has been difficult, yet you are encouraging me to continue. I hope I do not let you down. There is ministry to do in the name of Jesus.

I am daunted by the tremendous theological education invested in me at Garrett. To every teacher I had at Garrett whether faculty, staff, or student colleague – I shall try to honor the gift you gave me as I was transformed in this community. We invested in each other, we felt the emotions, we all grew. I would add so many people I have met since my Garrett days, thank you also.

I believe the words of the Gospel. So, with this moment of being seen from a platform of learning and privilege, I shall keep on – to love and heal in the name of the brown man called Jesus.

There is power in the name.

Sue Laurie, MDiv