FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — With COVID-19 preventing The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Scarborough College from having an in-person commencement ceremony, the school’s administration and faculty still congratulated and celebrated 336 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral students graduating in the spring 2020 semester, including the largest-ever graduating class from Scarborough College.
President Adam W. Greenway delivered a charge to the graduates Friday (May 8) through a recorded video. Many faculty members similarly shared prayers and congratulations through digital means. It was the first time in the institution’s 112-year history in-person commencement was not held.
“I want you to know from my heart as your president how disappointed I am that we are not able to gather together to celebrate you — your accomplishments as graduates of Scarborough College and Southwestern Seminary,” Greenway said in his address from the historic George W. Truett Auditorium on the Fort Worth campus. “This class will be one that will be remembered in the annals of the history of our seminary forever because you experienced a kind of disruption in the ending of your studies as a seminary or a college student unlike anything we’ve ever known. We’ve been through world wars and depression and challenges from within and from without, but nothing like what this COVID-19 pandemic has presented or has brought to us.”
In a brief exposition of Acts 8:1-4, Greenway shared with the graduates how “the stability and the security” of the early church in Jerusalem were suddenly disrupted by persecution. And yet, Greenway noted in verse 4, “those who were scattered went on their way preaching the Word.”
Greenway said this serves as “a word and a reminder” for Southwestern and Scarborough, because students and faculty have been scattered by the pandemic. He said he was encouraged that graduates “have continued to be found faithful proclaiming the Gospel, fulfilling your ministry, doing the work that God has called us to do.”
“In this moment where we are scattered,” Greenway continued, “our charge and commission to you is to continue going forth proclaiming the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ; continuing to work to connect all people to Jesus Christ; continuing to do what you do wherever you may be and wherever God may deploy you.”
Greenway said that when things return to normal once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, “it’s going to feel, probably, abnormal for quite some time.” He assured the graduates, however, that “God is with you.”
“He has sustained us through this moment,” Greenway said. “He has brought you through all the adversity and disruption that you have faced, to this place where you now join the corps of alumni of The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Scarborough College.”
Greenway further assured the graduates on behalf of the administration and faculty that “your alma mater stands with you.”
“Know that you are, indeed, Southwesterners,” he said. “We are in this together as we work to continue to be found faithful.”
The faculty of Southwestern Seminary and Scarborough College also extended prayers and congratulations to the graduates through a recorded video released the previous day.
The spring 2020 graduates will receive their diplomas by mail and are invited to participate in the fall 2020 commencement ceremony in December.