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FROM THE COLLEGES: Northeastern’s first commencement; CBU baseball title; OBU communication competition

Today’s From the Colleges includes items from:
Northeastern Baptist College
California Baptist University
Oklahoma Baptist University

Northeastern Baptist College holds first commencement.

BENNINGTON, Vt. — Northeastern Baptist College celebrated its first commencement exercises May 7, with degrees conferred on two students at the new Vermont college, founded in 2013 in Bennington.

NEBC President Mark Ballard gave the charge to the first graduates, challenging Timothy Groos and Joseph Ferguson to stay committed to preaching and teaching the Bible.

“Though we all have many opinions, they count for very little,” Ballard said. “What matters is the message of the King.

“As two heralds of the King, your job is not to create a message, but to deliver a message,” Ballard said, drawing from the apostle Paul’s exhortation to Timothy, from 2 Timothy 4.

“Ultimately, it matters not to the herald what anyone else thinks, except for the King: King Jesus.”

Ballard presented three ministry leaders with Northeast Impact Awards during the ceremony for their commitment to spreading the Gospel in the Northeast, with each award centered on a characteristic from Northeastern’s mission statement to train students to have the Mind of a Scholar, the Heart of a Shepherd and the Perseverance of a Solider:

— Scholar award: David Shepherd, pastor of County Line Baptist Church in Walnut, Miss., former International Mission Board missionary and former director of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary’s campus in Schenectady, N.Y.

— Shepherd Award: Gary Rogers, senior pastor of North Pownal Congregational Church in North Pownal, Vt., who moved to Vermont nearly 20 years ago from Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.

— Soldier Award: Al Page, 81, associate pastor of Hillside Baptist Church in Pembroke, N.H., who has been involved in numerous volunteer building projects throughout New England for many years.

The Northeast Impact Awards will be open for nominations each year.

Greetings were given by evangelist Phil Waldrep of Phil Waldrep Ministries in Alabama on behalf of the trustee board; by John Brownlee, pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Chicopee, Mass., on behalf of the Baptist Convention of New England’s board of directors; and John Shannahan, executive director of the Better Bennington Corp., on behalf of the town of Bennington.

Both graduates, Groos and Ferguson, received bachelor of arts in biblical studies degrees with concentrations in church planting/entrepreneurial leadership.

Groos, the commencement valedictorian, said of NEBC’s first commencement, “It’s not about us but about what God did and is continuing to do.”

Groos will continue as youth minister at Community Christian Church in Athens, Vt., as well as begin a new position this summer as a high school administrator at Claremont Christian Academy in Claremont, N.H., having worked in NEBC admissions the past two years. He received the college’s Biblical Studies Award for academic excellence from Ed Wright, vice president/dean of students and professor of pastoral ministry.

As each graduate addressed the audience, their love for their alma mater and for the Lord was clear. “I love this school,” Ferguson, the NEBC salutatorian, said. “It has been an awesome experience, and I’m so glad I don’t have to leave.”

Ferguson will become NEBC’s director of admissions this summer as well as continuing to serve the local church and begin graduate studies through Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ferguson received NEBC’s Church Planting Award from Brian Harmon, vice president/dean of academics and professor of church planting, for his dedication in the field of church planting.

Waldrep concluded the ceremony by thanking God for the college and its first graduates. “Father, we often study church history, but today we have been a part of church history. We are grateful.”

Northeastern Baptist College’s fall 2015 enrollment stood at 59 students. The school commissioned its inaugural missions team for a week of outreach in March of this year in Glasgow, Scotland.

Calif. Baptist Univ. baseball garners PacWest title

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — California Baptist University’s Lancers baseball team won CBU’s third-ever PacWest conference title May 9, beating Azusa Pacific University, 6-5.

CBU, with a 38-11 season record and ranked sixth nationally in NCAA Division II, needed to win one game of a double header against APU on the last day of the regular season to claim the conference crown.

Their bats coming alive in the first game for explosive rallies in the sixth and seventh innings. Trailing 2-0 going into the sixth, the Lancers scored six runs on six hits including a home run by Antonio Chavarria, his 10th of the year.

Jeremy McDonald, a senior lefty, navigated through seven innings, giving up three runs on eight hits, but more importantly limiting APU from stringing together a flurry of runs. McDonald improved to 7-0 on the season.

The Lancers now await the regional play-off announcement to learn of its pairing at the NCAA Division II West Regionals, May 19–May 23 at a site to be determined.

Oklahoma students create real-world organizations

SHAWNEE, Okla. – A spirited competition marked Oklahoma Baptist University’s organizational communication course this spring taught by professor of communication arts Vickie Ellis at the campus in Shawnee.

As a part of the course requirements, each team was required to develop a fictitious organization for which people could see a real-world need.

Named as the top two teams were “Starlight Theatre,” a nonprofit children’s theatre organization for the local Shawnee community created by Michelle Goins, Maile Hopkins, Jeremiah Hurd and Katie Ward and “Intertwined Theatre,” a for-profit outdoor/hammock drive-in theater created by Meg Reeder, Lindsi Skinner and Hailey Whitfield.

From mission statement to crisis management plan and everything in between, the course involved teamwork, analysis, coordination, creativity, problem-solving and public presentation.

The teams were tasked to develop the types of communication to effectively engage external audiences, such as a mission statement, logo, slogan and crisis plan, and types of communication to foster growth from within, including organizational charts, policies and goals.

External consultants audited the team’s decisions, offering insight throughout the semester. This year, the consultants included a group of high school students from ASTEC Charter School in Oklahoma City; a group of OBU alumni who now are graduate students at the University of Alabama; a business club from Covenant College; a group of leaders from Camp War Eagle in Rogers, Ark.; gifted and talented students from Bolivar Missouri Intermediate School; a national parliamentarian; a retired debate coach from Vallejo, Calif.; and a team of gifted and talented students from Terrill ISD in Terrill, Texas.