Inside every healthy organization is an unseen hand, a person who is watching and looking for the way to offer the right help at the right time to keep it healthy. At Wesley, that person is the Rev. Dr. Youtha Hardman-Cromwell.
“Youtha stepped in to be a program administrator in those moments when we needed a calm and steady hand,” said the Wesley Theological Seminary President, the Rev. Dr. David McAllister-Wilson. “She did that for the Practice of Ministry and Mission program, for Wesley Downtown and for the Office of Community Life. In each instance, she came in the midst of a moment of crisis or rapid change.”
After serving at Wesley since 1998, Hardman-Cromwell celebrated her retirement on April 5, 2016. Officially, she retired on June 30, 2015, but she has been working through this year on a special assignment as Acting Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. She will continue teaching at Wesley in a very limited capacity.
“Youtha’s teaching, both in the classroom and as an administrator, has been to help people understand how to really first see difference and then engage it,” said McAllister-Wilson. “This is hard work and requires the kind of wisdom and skill Youtha brings to us.”
Well-known on campus for her storytelling ability, especially for reciting “God’s Trombones, Seven Negro Sermons in Verse” during Chapel, the president said he was always touched by her recitations. “If you have not heard Youtha tell a long story from bible by memory you have not heard that story the way it was meant to be told.”
The courses that Hardman-Cromwell have taught at Wesley have been significant touchstones for students as they serve in ministry, said Dean and Professor of Christian Formation and Leadership, Dr. Robert Martin.
“Many of our graduates have told me that they have gone back to their notes and projects in Youtha’s courses for guidance in new or difficult situations,” he said. He noted, for example, her teaching “Sexual Issues in Parish Ministry,” and “Facing the First Pastorate,” both of which are wellsprings of crucial information and helpful practices.
The Dean thanked Hardman-Cromwell for her faithful and varied service to him and the seminary.
“Within a few months of my appointment to Wesley, a long-time and beloved Assoc. Dean of Community Life resigned,” Martin said. “Youtha was the first person who came to mind as one who could enter the position easily and gracefully. She took the mantle with authority, and she was immediately respected and trusted by students.”
Again, the Dean said, when Assoc. Dean Koppel went on sabbatical this year,” Youtha took on that role so that the transition was rather seamless.”
“She has been a terrific colleague, a wonderful advisor for students, and a wise guide administratively,” Martin said. “Whether they are aware or not, everyone in this school has benefited from the sacrificial offering that she has made over the years in teaching and service for the common good.”