COCHRANE, Alberta, Canada (BP)–Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary graduated its largest class on May 8, granting diplomas to 24 graduates from seven different countries.
Seminary President Richard Blackaby said the class marks a new era for the seminary in helping Canadian Baptists fulfill their vision of planting 1,000 churches in Canada by the year 2020.
“Ten years ago,” he noted, “God called the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists and the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary to raise up leaders and plant churches in Canada. God continues to show us His faithfulness in bringing those students here to our seminary and sending them out all over Canada and the world to reap the harvest.”
Wayne Howard, CSBS trustee chairman, echoed Blackaby’s comments and said the seminary’s trustees are committed “to make sure the seminary is fulfilling its vision” -– “to equip leaders for ministry to Canada and the world.”
“The graduating class of 2004 is evidence to me that this mission is being fulfilled,” Howard said.
Dan Yeary, senior pastor of North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix, brought a charge to the students to continue in their ministry with loyalty, with purity and with the “second mile.”
In charging the students to a life of loyalty in ministry, Yeary said he had once preached a sermon about getting one’s priorities in order. After the sermon, he said he was approached by one of his church members, an English professor who wanted to correct him on a point in his sermon.
“There is no such word as ‘priorities,’” Yeary recounted. “There is a priority. Jesus Christ is your priority and there is no substitute for loyalty to Him.
“What you’ve done these past few years is a great accomplishment, but you stay on the path and don’t look back.”
Ministers also must live a life of purity, Yeary said, because without purity there is no credibility in ministry.
“Potiphar’s wife is alive and well and has cousins in every congregation,” he said, pointing to the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis. “Purity has no substitute.”
The term “second mile,” meanwhile, means exactly that: to go the second mile with anyone and everyone, Yeary said, pointing to Jesus’ willingness to go the second mile for the church in His death.
Yeary told of a former staff member who was simply getting by in ministry and when called to account for his lack of motivation said, “Jesus gave His life for the church, I don’t have to.”
“Is there anything more worthy of giving your life for than the church?” Yeary asked.
Yeary left graduates with a charge from Hebrews 10:35-36, “So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised” (HCSB).
Henry Blackaby, whose son, Tom, was receiving his doctor of ministry degree, gave the benediction to the graduates, reminding them of Jesus’ parable of the landowner in Matthew 20, who hired workers even until the 11th hour of the day.
“Are these the 11th-hour laborers, the last laborers until the Lord returns?” he asked. “You could be the last laborers that our Lord calls and assigns. In light of that, you need to have a sense of urgency, a sense of immediacy and a sense of stewardship.”
The Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary is located in Cochrane, Alberta, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. The seminary offers master of divinity and master of religious education degrees accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), as well as undergraduate programs in Christian ministry. CSBS’ D.Min. degree is offered in conjunction with Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: CHARGE TO CANADIAN GRADS.