Journey to the East

The installation of Theo Dean Jeffrey Kuan was a worldly, spirited affair.

By David W. Muha

Faculty gave Kuan an ancient oil lamp from Jerusalem. Photo by Bill Cardoni.

“I stand before you today keenly aware of the enormous honor and task that the communities of faith and higher education have conferred upon me,” said Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, who at his April 8 installation ceremony described his path from Malaysia to California to Drew as “a journey to the East.” His hope for the Theological School is that it will “increasingly become more global in its orientation.”

“[By] expanding transnational teaching and learning relationships, I hope we can explore together what progressive Christianity and progressive religion can look like in a global context,” said Kuan, the first Asian American to lead a United Methodist seminary. “I am very confident that Drew Theological School’s pioneering legacy will help move us in our journey of theological education.”

The service included a performance by Drew’s Korean Men’s Choir; a special hymn, “We Abide,” composed for the occasion by lyricist Laurie Zelman and the school’s music director, Mark Miller; and the presentation of gifts from the Methodist church and Drew faculty, staff, students and alumni.

Kuan sees his journey eastward eventually coming full circle, leading him back to where he grew up. Still, he realizes both he and the place of his birth will have changed significantly in the intervening years.

“Likewise,” said Kuan, “Drew Theological School is hardly the same school that began 144 years ago. In our respective and intertwining journeys, I hope that we’ve been changed for the better and that we’ve been changed for good.”

Leave a Reply