NBTS E-Story

Remembering the life of Rev. Dr. James Seawood

I am grateful for this moment to express the deepest sympathy of New Brunswick Theological Seminary to the Seawood family and friends; to the congregation of the Brighton Heights Reformed Church; and to the many colleagues and friends who worked with Sea over his remarkable life and career.

There will be many who will express gratitude for the gifts and qualities that made Sea such a special and sacred person to so many of us. I want to say a word regarding his unique role at the Seminary. It was about forty years ago that the then President, Dr. Howard Hageman, had a vision to make New Brunswick more accessible for those who had to continue to work and could only attend class in the evening. This vision was made possible through the work of many from the mid-1970s on. But it was Drs. Wilbur Washington, Benjamin Alicea, Warren Dennis as well as James Seawood, our first faculty of color, who helped make our community as well as our program accessible. It was also Sea, who was Dean of Students at New Brunswick in the 1990s, who helped us understand what it meant for the soul of a community to welcome the gifts and graces of a richly diverse group of students, staff and faculty.

It has been remarkable over the years the number of alumni who have stopped me to share the important roles Sea played in their lives. From the first contact when they were discerning their call to ministry to the last moment of their theological education as they walked across the chancel at Kirkpatrick Chapel, Sea was attentive and caring, deeply interested and wisely encouraging. He loved people and people knew it! Sea became for many an incarnation of a Seminary that was dramatically changing and ever sensitive to the diversity of our evolving community.

On Wednesday evening at the Seminary one of the students Sea recruited to the Seminary, now a 70 year retired RCA pastor, shared a brief story that I suspect could be repeated over and over again. About 15 years ago this lay leader of an RCA church who was deeply involved in his congregation, volunteered at a mission in Atlantic City as well as with another non for profit closer to his home, called the seminary and Sea answered the phone. After listening to his story he exclaimed, "Man, you are already involved in ministry up to your neck, it is time for you to come to seminary!"

We give thanks in this day for the grace God shared through James Seawood with those of us in the community of New Brunswick Seminary. We give thanks for his life and vocation of ministry, for his gifts and his graces, for his presence and the peace that he shared. We give thanks for James Seawood and commend him into the everlasting arms of the God who created him and carried him throughout his life. Amen.

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