Congratulations to the 2017 Distinguished Alums: Craig Wright ’01 and Gretchen Thompson ’93, ’14!
Craig Wright has influenced a generation with his work as both a writer and a producer for HBO's hit series Six Feet Under. In addition, he has also been a writer/producer for Dirty, Sexy Money and Tyrant, and many other shows. Mr. Wright has also written numerous plays, including, Recent Tragic Events, Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty and The Pavilion (which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize). He weaves theological depth into all of his work, whether for the stage or the screen.
Cathy Kolwey ’15 nominated Mr. Wright, writing that he, “exemplifies the ‘next generation’ of theological student--one who is not necessarily just preparing for church work as a traditional pastor, but rather he has proven that theological education can be an important influence in any genre of work, especially in the arts field. He is making a huge impact through his writing/producing and reaching audiences that would never walk into a church -- and touching them with the meaningful existential questions of our time. He is a role model for how theological education can reach out in non-traditional ways.”
Gail Anderson ’05 wrote the letter of support for Mr. Wright’s nomination, “Craig is a clear example of how theological training can be used in secular world to open people minds, change their thinking, and therefore have an impact on our world.”
Unitarian Universalist minister Gretchen Thompson has served in a variety of settings: parish minister, hospice chaplain, and grief counselor, writer. She also has helped with a play put on by the Homeless Theatre Company. For her Doctor of Ministry, she wrote a novel, Resilience, along with an analysis of death and dying. She has ministered to those who are experiencing caregiver burnout. In a recent summary of her current focus, she says: I seek to evoke spiritual growth through the sharing of written and spoken word: thoughtful conversation with individuals, group offerings such as workshops or writing circles, and the crafting of literary fiction. She not only writes about spirituality or offers workshops, she also continues her own spiritual growth as a member of Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis.
Gretchen was nominated by Roberta Haskin ’97 and a letter of support was written by Wilson Yates, President Emeritus at United. Wilson writes, “Gretchen is an extraordinary person and minister. She has made a difference in the world as a chaplain, as clergy, as an artist, as a human being. She has given testimony to what United is and how it can transform individuals and, paradoxically, be transformed by them.”
United will honor them at the annual Alum Dinner as part of United Days on Thursday, May 4, 2017 at the seminary.