Graduates from 24 Countries Commissioned as Soldiers of Christ at Southern Seminary Commencement
“What is happening here will determine whether or not persons who have not yet heard the gospel of Jesus Christ will hear that gospel and believe in Christ and be saved,” said President R. Albert Mohler, Jr. in his opening remarks at the Commencement of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. While other institutions may gather this time of year to celebrate commencement ceremonies, the commencement at Southern Seminary is distinct in that it is a service of Christian worship. Both the service and the motivation of the graduates are full of gratitude to the Lord and determination to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
A graduation assembly of over 2,000 people took to the Seminary Lawn on Friday, May 12, for the 231st Commencement Ceremony of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Faculty, family, and friends celebrated as 345 students representing 24 different countries had their degrees conferred, with 259 in attendance and 86 receiving their degrees in absentia. Surveying the graduates, Mohler said, “The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ produces this. Godly churches produce this. Faithful pastors preaching the word of God in season and out of season produces this. Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit of God that produces this.” He continued, “More than anything else, this is not a celebration of human achievement. More than anything else, it is just visible evidence of the faithfulness of God.”
In his commencement address, President Mohler looked to James 5:7-11 to encourage the graduates with the ongoing need for their work as ministers of the gospel until the Lord returns. He urged them to establish their hearts on Christ as they prepare for decades of ministry and faithfulness to the local church. Christians can be confident that the Lord is coming to establish his kingdom and fulfill all that he has promised, and it is this eschatological frame that is to guide graduates into faithfulness in Christian ministry. “The exhortation here is that we settle ourselves and establish our hearts knowing that all things in the name of Christ for the gospel will be fulfilled,” declared Mohler.
During the commencement, faculty looked on as Mohler charged their students to remain steadfast in their gospel ministry, confident that they had prepared the graduates for this objective. From the first moment these men and women enrolled in classes, the faculty has consistently taught, trained, and equipped these ministers of the gospel for enduring, faithful service to the church. As the graduates depart, they go prepared by the faculty to proclaim what they vowed in the Graduation Pledge: “We are soldiers of Christ, arrayed in truth, and we commit the length of our days to the service of our Savior.”
Looking at the graduates, Mohler invited those in attendance to consider what he and the faculty see in them. “We see faithfulness channeled into the lives of these servants of Christ captured right in a picture as all sit together on this lawn. This group of graduates is a picture of faithfulness and promise.” In a final charge to the graduates, Mohler said, “So go! Go do what God has called you to do.”
Southern Seminary’s commencement ceremony was a clear reminder of the sacred task entrusted to these graduates. With diplomas in hand, Southern Seminary-commissioned graduates go out into the world as heralds of truth, armed with the transformative power of God’s Word and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. As they embark on their respective ministries, the graduates carry with them the sincere confidence that their preparation at seminary will impact both time and eternity through their faithful service to Christ and his church.
Don Whitney, Professor of Biblical Spirituality and the Associate Dean of the School of Theology, received the Findley B. and Louvenia Edge Faculty Award, given annually to an outstanding professor on the seminary faculty. Findley B. Edge taught at Southern Seminary for over three decades and died in 2002. Whitney has served on Southern Seminary’s faculty since 2005.