by Keith Collier
President Paige Patterson challenged graduates to recognize the peculiarity of their graduation during Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s 217th commencement, May 8.
“What is peculiar about your graduation is it necessarily falls into one of two categories,” said Patterson. “Either you have chosen, in a way, what is only pitiable, and your graduation is sound and fury with no meaning at all; or else, you of all men and women on the face of the globe are most to be envied. There is no in-between.”
Patterson preached from 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul tells the Corinthian church that unless Christ had truly risen from the dead, then their faith and preaching was in vain.
“The truth of the matter is that you made your decision to come to seminary, hinging on that salient truth,” Patterson said.
“You have made a bad decision. … But not if the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, where the body of Christ was laid is empty.”
Compared to those who obtain secular degrees and great wealth, seminary graduates had chosen the most enviable of all professions because of the resurrection of Christ, Patterson said.
The seminary conferred degrees on 215 students, including 13 undergraduate, 182 master’s level, and 20 doctoral degrees.
Barry Bishop, a Master of Divinity graduate, feels his studies have equipped him for a lifetime of ministry.
“I think the professors did a great job of showing how you have to be steeped in the Bible in everything you do,” said Bishop.
“This is the beginning of a lifetime of scholarship, studying and learning the Bible, and taking it to others.”
Bishop, pastor of a small, rural church in his hometown of Gatesville, Texas, received the LifeWay Pastoral Leadership Award during the final chapel service of the semester. He was chosen by seminary faculty based on his heart for the gospel and ministry in the local church.
Katie Schild became the first graduate in the Bachelor of Arts in Music (BAM) degree in the College at Southwestern, a program that started in 2007.
Schild cherishes the community of musicians and believers she has been a part of at Southwestern. She also appreciates the music professors’ emphasis on using one’s talents for God’s glory.
The BAM contains the core curriculum in the College at Southwestern and replaces languages, physical education and fine arts classes with a 44-hour concentration in either worship, performance or composition.