Honoring the Legacy of Dr. William Cate & Rev. Marvin Evans

April 4, 2016

Our uniquely inclusive school was built by the passion, vision and dedication of individuals and communities that believed people of faith across Christian traditions can contribute to a better world together and through learning from each other. (Learn more about our history, here) As a result of their intentional work, Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry was set-up to flourish and evolve beyond even what our founders imagined at the time—becoming a space where not only Christians can deepen in knowledge and skills for a more just and humane world but also welcome individuals from other faith traditions and those that identify as spiritual but not religious. Over the last few months, we have had to say goodbye to two individuals with tremendous legacy. We honor them as a community and acknowledge their impact directly and indirectly on our learning community.


William Cate

On January 31st, members of our community paid respects to Dr. William Burke Cate, social activist, ecumenical giant and a founder of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry. Dr. Cate, from the Methodist tradition, was a part of a generation of leaders along with Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen and the late Rev. Loren Arnett, who challenged the religious communities of Seattle to unite and live out the ethics of Jesus. As Executive Director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, Dr. Cate led proactive movements on issues as diverse as resisting the placement of nuclear submarines in the Salish Sea to boycotting banks that refused to divest money from apartheid South Africa to campaigning for human rights, including for the gay community as early as the 1970s. Dr. Cate believed that the local church could be a great vehicle for ecumenism. For Christendom to be truly effective at alieving the pain of the world, each of its members had to reach across racial and denominational lines.

Dr. Cate was able to contribute to this vision after he retired from the Church council in 1990. He was instrumental in creating Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry and the Institute for Ecumenical Theological Studies (IETS), which provided an initial structure for helping Protestant students feel at home in the school, and became an essential strategy for creating an intentionally ecumenical school that garnered an international reputation.  In his commitments to the School of Theology and Ministry, Dr. Cate was always driven by a passion for creating a “first class theological school” in the Seattle region.

Dr. Mark S. Markuly, Dean of the School of Theology of Ministry shares:

“It’s inconceivable that this specific school of theology and ministry could have been created without a Bill Cate. He exemplified the very best in his generation’s attempt to align Christian theology and faith commitment with action on behalf of the public good. Bill was involved in the early discussions of what an ecumenical school of theology on a Jesuit campus might look like, and his rare mixture of deep, intellectual knowledge and pastoral concern helped to set a template for a completely different type of educational institution training future ministers.”  

Dr. Cate’s legacy lives on at our school—a school that uniquely strives to create religious leaders for whom ecumenism and inclusive community is a must in the everyday. Dr. Cate is remembered by his wife, Janice, of 69 years, six children, and over a dozen grandchildren and great grandchildren. 
(Photo source: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/obituaries/william-b-cate-91-former-leader-of-church-council-of-greater-seattle/)

Marvin Evans

On February 13th, Marvin Evans was remembered at Cedars Congregation on Bainbridge Island. His career as a Unitarian minister and social activist spanned decades and the impact of Rev. Evans life will continue to be felt around Seattle, especially within our School of Theology and Ministry.  Among his many ways of contributing the school, Rev. Evans contributed generously to the Leon Hopper United Unitarian Endowed Scholarship, which supports Unitarian students at the school.

Marvin served in the United States Army and was part of the force responsible for liberating Europe in the Second World War. After serving as a library archivist for over decade, he enrolled in the Meadville/Lombard Theological School in Chicago, where he received his Masters of Divinity in 1963. After a short tenure as a Unitarian Minister, Marvin and his wife Mary retired in order to devote themselves to propelling change. From 1966 to 2003, they focused on creating a more just and humane world by serving on various boards, task forces, committees and the like.  The Evans’, during their lengthy career, embodied the idea of taking one’s theology out into the world, and serve as powerful examples to all of us at the School of Theology & Ministry as practitioners of Practical Theology.

As Assistant Dean of Ecumenical & interreligious Dialogue Dr. Michael Reid Trice shares,

“Through a rich soulful life, amid family and friends, Marvin lived with purpose and goodness of heart.  His legacy within the Unitarian Universalist community resonates deeply with everyone who knew him well, as it does with the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University.  He leaves an example for ministry, and a witness to a gracious sense of our shared humanity.”

Even after his passing, Rev. Evans will continue to affect change in the Seattle Region. A representative confirmed that Marvin left a portion of his estate to the Rev. Leon Hopper Universal Unitarian Endowed Fund, which aims to reduce the debt of Unitarian students. In this way, recipients can focus more on bringing about positive change in the world and less on school debt. We hope you will join us in remembering this kind and generous ministry for this great gift, which is just another manifestation of his life-long commitment to serve and improve the world.  
(Photo source: http://www.uuma.org/blogpost/569858/237480/In-Memory-of----Marvin-D-Evans-1925-2016)