FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – During the Dec. 3 commencement ceremony at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Texas Baptist College (TBC), President Adam W. Greenway challenged more than 300 graduates to speak a “word of comfort to Christ’s people” and “cry out” to the lost who need the Gospel.
The fall 2021 certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral graduates included men and women from Southwestern Seminary’s four graduate schools and TBC, who represent 33 states and 20 countries, including the United States. Three degrees were awarded posthumously to Alan Wayne Meadows, Michael Rodriguez, and Sterling Sellman, who died during the semester. Family representatives received the diplomas on their behalf.
In his commencement sermon, Greenway said through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord gives “a word of exhortation and a word of commission and challenge.” He then reminded them of the Fort Worth seminary they represent.
“To most people in the watching world, you are Southwestern Seminary to them,” Greenway said. “What they know and believe about the efficacy of Southwestern Seminary is what they will see and hear and observe in and through you. And so may I challenge you, my fellow Southwesterners, to speak two words as you go?”
Greenway encouraged the graduates to speak a word of “comfort to Christ’s people” as God told Isaiah to “comfort My people” in the midst of their experiences of adversity, brought on by “their own sin.”
“It’s interesting that the word is one of ‘comfort’,” Greenway observed of God’s command to the Old Testament prophet. “I think sometimes there’s a tendency for those of us in Christian ministry to think that the way that we really minister effectively is just to consistently and constantly beat the sheep.”
While noting that “prophetic biblical preaching is going to address sin,” Greenway said in a time when “believers are experiencing more pain, more hurt, more alienation, more frustration, more separation, more agony [and] more distress,” the “people of God” should be able to find “true comfort” in “the household of faith.”
“Should not we be the ones who are known as those who are able to comfort God’s people with a word from God?” Greenway asked. “I pray that the places where you will serve and the words that you will speak to those who are truly God’s people will be words of comfort, reminding them that no matter what they may be going through, God has not abandoned them.”
Greenway also challenged the graduates to “cry out to a watching world” as the remainder of the Isaiah 40 passage shows God is “the One who is worthy to be proclaimed and preached to all peoples everywhere.”
Gospel proclamation should occur “not with timidity, not with hesitancy, not stepping back, but crying out in a time where there are more concerted efforts and attempts to suppress the proclamation of the Gospel, not just in countries that we know around the world where the church is persecuted, but even right here in our own country,” Greenway said. “The pressure will be immense … ‘to go wobbly’,” referencing an expression associated with Margaret Thatcher, the late former prime minister of the United Kingdom.
Before awarding diplomas, which included 31 doctoral degrees, Greenway reminded the graduates, “Southwestern Seminary since its founding, has been unashamedly, unreservedly and unswervingly committed to the preaching of the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people everywhere, and your calling and your task is to be one who is crying out, ‘Salvation is of the Lord.’”
In other SWBTS news, Greenway announced Monday (Dec. 6) the hiring of Micah Carter as assistant professor of theology at Texas Baptist College. Carter most recently served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Ripley, Miss.
The commencement ceremony can be viewed here.
For stories from specific graduates, go here.