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Bishop John Cummins

John Stephen Cummins, a native to Berkeley, was born in 1928 to Irish immigrants.  He began to study for the priesthood at St. Joseph’s College in Mountainview, California, graduating in 1949.  He attended seminary at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, graduating in 1953 with an MDiv.

He was ordained in 1953 and began to serve at Mission Dolores Basilica in San Francisco.  His brother Bernard also became a priest and would later become superintendent of the schools under the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Cummins would become the diocesan liaison to the GTU’s three Catholic schools (the Jesuit School of Theology, the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, and the Franciscan School of Theology) when he served as Chancellor of the Diocese of Oakland from 1962 until 1971.

In 1974, he was consecrated as a bishop and appointed to the Diocese of Sacramento.  In 1977, he was installed as the Bishop of Oakland and would serve there until his retirement in 2003 at the age of 75.

Cummins had a deep commitment to the wellbeing of his community as evidenced by his service to Catholic education, dialogue, and social justice initiatives, including serving as Chairman of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC).  Cummins also served as chairman of the Liturgy Committee, Laity Committee, and Migration & Refugee Services Committee for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.He was also the co-chair of the Roman Catholic-Reformed Presbyterian Dialogue Commission from 1992-1995, and a consultant of the Ecumenical and Religious Committee.

Claude Welch

Claude Welch served as Graduate Theological Union Dean and President from 1971 to 1982 and as Dean from 1982 to 1987, when he retired. He continued to teach until 2006, when he moved to Illinois.  He taught 19th Century Theology throughout his career, and authored several books, among themProtestant Theology, co-authored with John Dillenberger, 1954; and the seminal 2-volume Protestant Thought in the Nineteenth Century, 1985.

Earlier in his career, Welch had been a Fulbright scholar, teaching at Princeton and Yale.  He served as President of the American Academy of Religion.  Welch graduated from Upper Iowa University with a B.A. in History, and Yale Divinity School with a B.D. an M.Div and his PhD.

Welch is best known for his contributions to the expansion of the GTU’s programs and services.  He expanded the academic ties between the GTU and the University of California, Berkeley, such as: the joint Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies and cross-registration for courses.

He also oversaw the expansion of affiliated centers, institutes, and programs such as the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute; Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences; Institute of Buddhist Studies; Pacific Asian-American Center for Theology and Strategies; and the Center for Ethics and Social Policy.

In 1976, he established the GTU Distinguished Faculty Lecture which continues to be an annual event.  He also commenced the planning of the GTU Common Library building and the completion of Phase I in 1981.

Claude Welch died November 6, 2009.  James A. Donahue, President and Professor of Ethics at the GTU, said, “Claude was the heart and soul of the GTU for many, many years. His is a powerful legacy. He gave the encouragement and support to many of our alumni/ae to help prepare them for their professional roles. The students, faculty, staff, and our surrounding community have Claude to thank for what the GTU is today – we could never be what we are without him.”

W. Hazaiah Williams, Founder of the Center for Urban-Black Studies

Rev. Williams was born in Columbus, Ohio, and was educated in Detroit, graduating from Wayne State University. He died in 1999.

In the 1950s, Rev. Williams moved to the Bay Area at the invitation of Howard Thurman, founder of the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples. He was co-pastor at the South Berkeley Community Church until 1957, when his standing as a minister was revoked by the Congregational Church. He then founded the Church for Today in Berkeley. The church's name was later changed to the Church for Tomorrow, and he served as pastor there until his death.

He was founder and president of Alamo Black Clergy, an East Bay interfaith ministerial group. He also served as executive director of the East Bay Conference on Race, Religion and Social Justice. He was also a commentator on radio KPFA-FM.