Spiritual leader to deliver invocations at UMass Dartmouth commencement ceremonies this weekend
Reverend Robert Lawrence's spiritual and civic leadership on the SouthCoast spanning more than 50 years has once again received national recognition. Reverend Lawrence received the lifetime achievement award from the Corporation for National Community Service in recognition for his devotion to service and doing all he can to shape a better tomorrow. The spiritual leader of the SouthCoast received the award at UMass Dartmouth's Dr. Robert Lawrence Civic Engagement Summit Friday, April 17, 2015, at Woodland Commons, which included a discussion on the power of civic engagement in building social capital, expanding economic opportunities, and strengthening our communities.
Emblematic of Rev. Lawrence's dedication to the community and valuing of education, he has been invited by UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman to deliver the invocations at this weekend's four commencement ceremonies.
Reverend Lawrence was presented the award by Wendy Spencer, who serves as CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). CNCS is a federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund, and other programs. Together these programs engage more than five million Americans in service and volunteering to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement.
UMass Dartmouth dedicated the hall within the University's Woodland Commons in honor of Reverend Dr. Robert P. Lawrence in May 2014 in recognition of Reverend Lawrence's spiritual and civic leadership on the SouthCoast spanning more than 50 years.
Reverend Lawrence is completing a 60-year ministry, having served churches in Little Compton, Rhode Island; Fall River, Massachusetts; and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. During his ministerial career he has conducted thousands of baptisms, marriages, and funerals, making him an integral part of the community's life. Beyond his church, Rev. Lawrence is responsible for beginning the Pastoral Care Department at the Charlton Memorial site of Southcoast Hospitals. Reverend Lawrence also served as chaplain aboard the famous grand ocean liner Queen Elizabeth II, better known as the QE2, in addition to the Queen Mary II cruise ship. He served as chaplain for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Rev. Lawrence championed efforts to remove more than 3,000 guns from the streets of Fall River, create the first Fall River police K-9 unit, and purchase public safety equipment such as defibrillators. He is a trustee on three charitable foundations and serves on the boards of 18 community organizations. He has received numerous community awards, including the Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award from Bristol Community College in 1995 and a UMass Dartmouth Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2007.
UMass Dartmouth distinguishes itself as a vibrant, public research university dedicated to engaged learning and innovative research resulting in personal and lifelong student success. The University serves as an intellectual catalyst for economic, social, and cultural transformation on a global, national, and regional scale.
Editor's Note: Photo attached L to R: Chancellor Grossman, Wendy Spencer, Reverend Lawrence, Beth Duffy, and UMass Dartmouth's Matt Roy at UMass Dartmouth's Civic Engagement Summit.