5/20/2002 South Africans to keynote Linfield commencement, baccalaureate services
McMINNVILLE ? Two South Africans who were active in the anti-apartheid movement from opposite sides of the racial divide will keynote the baccalaureate service and commencement exercises at Linfield College.
Alexander Boraine, an anti apartheid activist and one of the architects of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will present the commencement address Sunday, June 2, at 10 a.m. in the Oak Grove. The Rev. Desmond Hoffmeister, a former pastor and leader within the Baptist community in South Africa, will present the baccalaureate address, "Faith that Makes a Difference," Saturday, June 1, at 6 p.m. in the Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
A total of 544 candidates for graduation will be presented at commencement exercises. There are 310 candidates for bachelor's degrees from the McMinnville Campus, 102 from the Portland Campus and 132 from the Adult Degree Program. Two honorary degrees will also be presented during commencement. In addition to serving as keynote speaker, Boraine will receive an honorary degree for his international human rights work. The Rev. Bernard Turner, pastor emeritus of the First Baptist Church of McMinnville, will receive an honorary degree for his distinguished service to the church, the college and the community.
Boraine entered the world stage when he was appointed vice chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by then President Nelson Mandela. The commission was the first to hold public hearings where both victims and perpetrators told their stories of human rights abuse in the era of apartheid.
Boraine's work for human rights did not begin with the commission. In 1974 he was elected to the South African Parliament as a member of the Opposition Progressive Party. After twice winning re-election, he resigned his seat in 1986 to form the Institute for Democracy in South Africa together with van Zyl Slabbert, former leader of the Opposition. The institute worked to promote negotiation politics in South Africa and to facilitate contact between those in exile and those still living in the country. In 1994 Boraine founded the Institute for Justice in Transition, a non-governmental organization which sought to help South Africans deal with the history and effects of the apartheid years and to facilitate the development of a culture of human rights and a respect for the rule of law. The institute helped prepare the legislation to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Today Boraine is a professor of law at New York University's Global Law School Program and president of the Tides Center/International Center for Transitional Justice. Through technical assistance, training, networking, documentation and strategic research, the center facilitates the efforts of governments
and non-governmental organizations seeking to promote accountability after repressive rule or civil war. Boraine received a bachelor's degree from Rhodes University, a master's from Oxford University and a Ph.D. from Drew University.
Hoffmeister was a member of the South African generation that sacrificed its educational advancement to pursue the struggle of freedom in South Africa. He eventually received his degree in theology from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa in 1988. While pastoring in his first church, located in a typical black "township," he played a significant role in peacemaking and setting up programs to assist the poor. Hoffmeister became a leader within the Baptist community, challenging institutional racism in the South African Baptist Church through various initiatives. He led a walkout of the white-dominated Baptist Union when it held its annual convention in the barracks of the South African Defense Force. Ultimately, he became a key mover behind the reconciliation process between black and white Baptists. He currently serves on the Leadership Commission of the Baptist World Alliance and is the dean of community life and director of the Global Prophetic Network at the American Baptist Seminary of the West.
Turner, a McMinnville resident for over 30 years, served as pastor of the First Baptist Church for 23 years and was named pastor emeritus upon his retirement. He has served as pastor to Linfield presidents and many faculty, staff and students, and has been a member of the Linfield Board of Trustees since 1989. Turner has served in a variety of leadership roles in the church and in the community. He has been a leader in McMinnville Habitat for Humanity, serving as volunteer executive director since 1998. He has volunteered as a chaplain at the local hospital for the past 30 years, as well as serving the McMinnville Rotary Club and McMinnville Ministerial Association. He has been a leader in the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America for many years and served in the Senate of the National Ministers Council of the American Baptist Churches USA as well as serving in several state offices. Turner has a bachelor's degree from Ottawa University and a master of divinity degree from the American Baptist Seminary of the West.