A Beloved Community

Published: May 11, 2015


As my time here at Wake Forest comes to close, I am given moments where I can reflect on the true meaning of what this experience has been for me. As I reflect, I am drawn to my initial feelings about this community. To be completely honest, I had reservations about entering this community. I was coming from a historically black college, and I was concerned how well I would culturally fit in. As I wondered whether or not I belonged here or would I feel welcomed here, I was relieved to find that this community was already of diverse background. Meeting people like Jimmy Gawne (MDiv ’13) and Jonathan Tennial (MDiv ’13), Lisa Page (MDiv ’15), Dominique Grate (MDiv ’15), Ted Wilkinson (MDiv ’15), Alan Suber (MDiv ’15) and others would show me that I was indeed at the right place.

© 2015 Arthur Cameron Photography, LLC All Rights ReservedThis community became special to me. It seemed like we were all on this collective journey. Some of us knew where we where headed and others did not, however, we enjoyed the fellowship of one another. All of those who joined me on this journey have become something deeper then friends, almost family.

It seems as I search for an adjective that properly describes this community known as Wake Forest University School of Divinity, the term that comes to me is beloved.

The idea of being beloved does not illustrate a community that is perfect, but rather a place that demonstrates and personifies the love of Christ. While this community is flawed, just like any other human community, this community is a place where the love of God is best amplified. This love of God or image of God extends beyond the boundaries of cultural influence. It is here, that regardless of your race, class, age, gender, or sexual orientation or identity, that one feels truly welcome in the beloved community.

Because this is a beloved community, it provides an opportunity for growth. The beloved community the Dr. Martin Luther King spoke so eloquently about is not the result of immediate osmosis, but rather the result of dialogue and transformation. It is within this community that I attribute my growth as a person and as a Christian.

I believe that it is my responsibility as I prepare to leave this beloved community to inspire others to build a bigger, brighter beloved community. A community not bound by theological discourse and academic rigor, but a community that is built on the unconditional love of Christ. It is this hope that I take with me as I leave the beloved Wake Div, that one day the world will be a beloved community as well.

coatcm12Christopher Coates
Third Year

Christopher is a native of Reidsville, NC and is an associate minster of the Elm Grove Baptist Church in Reidsville NC., where he serves as the Minister of Youth and as a Scoutmaster. Community engagement and social justice are important to Chris because he believes that it is the responsibility of the church to serve the community and to be engineers of social change and reconciliation.