Skip to Main Content

Bishop Plambeck gives commencement address, receives award

By: Dave Stucke, communications associate, Dakotas UMC

A sacred invitation
In her opening remarks, Bishop Lanette Plambeck told the 2024 graduating class at the Saint Paul School of Theology that she dabbled with artificial intelligence to choose her scripture passage for a commencement address to seminary graduates. She found this result interesting, and surprisingly spot-on, for a commencement address:

 1-3 Jesus responded by telling still more stories. “God’s kingdom,” he said, “is like a king who threw a wedding banquet for his son. 11-13 “When the king entered and looked over the scene, he spotted a man who wasn’t properly dressed. He said to him, ‘Friend, how dare you come in here looking like that!’ The man was speechless. Then the king told his servants, ‘Get him out of here—fast. Tie him up and ship him to hell. And make sure he doesn’t get back in.’ 14 “That’s what I mean when I say, ‘Many get invited; only a few make it.’”  

Matthew 22:1-3, 11-14, The Message


Award presentation

Bishop Lanette Plambeck, class of 2001, received the Distinguished Graduate Award of 2024 from Saint Paul School of Theology on May 10, 2024. Photos from facebook livestream.

Watch the message on Facebook.

Bishop Plambeck invited all the graduates to “seek silence, so that you can listen to the voices” that will guide their ministry. She recalled the voices of her mentors and professors from seminary, and throughout her ministry journey, which have formed and transformed her and her ministry. The audience chuckled at some of the familiar names, a testament that those professors’ voices are still present in the seminary’s theological base.

Knowing her audience was freshly educated in deep theological concepts, she led them on a brief vocabulary journey through the connections of Didache, Koinonia, Diakonia, Kerygma, and Liturgia to John Wesley’s theology. Bishop Plambeck even admittedly made up a word of her own, asking graduates “to come and to ‘vocate’, in a particular way, to allow that vocation and that invocation of God to rest on your lives.”

She continued, “Sacred calling is a beautiful thing, and it’s a hard thing, and it’s a challenging thing, and it’s a lovely thing. Sacred calling is not about who we are, but about whose we are. It is about God saying to each of us, ‘I don’t need you to go into ministry to be somebody else, I need you to go and be you– you are who I called into this sacred calling.’”

Later, she brought the voices that have poured into each of us and God’s calling into focus, saying,

Bishop Plambeck1

Bishop Lanette Plambeck gave the 2024 commencement address to the graduating class of Saint Paul School of Theology on May 10, 2024.

“God is working in our lives and in this sacred calling, and we have to lean in and allow those voices that have spoken through us, through our own lives, and also through the generations, to continue to speak in and through us, because God has given us a sacred invitation.”

Bishop Plambeck said God is calling us to join,  “As we confront injustice, as we approach pain, as we get alongside our children and our youth who are living in an age where loneliness, desperation, isolation, and mental health is an absolute pandemic.”

For God’s people around the world asking questions, Bishop Plambeck believes that “The people called United Methodists are uniquely positioned to bring the answer—our theology, our commitment to holiness of heart and life, and the way that we choose to love unconditionally, all the places, all the times, all the days.”

She closed with the reassurance that, although the day of graduation may seem like one of the best days of our lives, “The best days are yet to come.”

Distinguished Graduate Award

On the same day, Bishop Lanette, a 2001 alumna,  was awarded Saint Paul's  2024 Distinguished Graduate Award. The award honors alumni who reflect the mission of the seminary: "Centered in Christ and rooted in the Wesleyan tradition, Saint Paul School of Theology is a seminary of intentional relationships committed to the formation of people for innovative, creative ministry through rigorous academic life; the exploration of Scripture, tradition, and ministry practices; and diverse, contextual experience."


Dakotas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church 605.996.6552 1331 University Ave. Mitchell SD 57301-0460 US 43.69689310 -98.03291320 122 W. Franklin Avenue Ste 400 Minneapolis MN 55404 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 W University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000