KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Mark Coppenger challenged 78 graduates to “distinguish yourself in eternity” by making the Bible a guide through life. Commencement exercises were held May 16 at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty, Mo.
Coppenger provided a spiritual parallel to the military custom of “trooping the colors.” While a color guard may be seen parading before the ranks of troops in a modern ceremony, the practice began as a means of minimizing the chance of disorientation for troops engaged in battle.
“The commander would assemble his troops for instruction, one item being the recognition of their particular flag,” Coppenger explained. “They would fix their eyes on it, storing its shape, hue and ornamentation in their memories, against that day when that memory would be their only hope of continued security and impact.”
In a spiritual sense, Coppenger told of Christians, and ministers in particular, being under in a godless society. Citing the Apostle Paul’s description of the Bible as the tool for equipping ministers, Coppenger said, “Let me then troop our colors, so that you might recognize the rally point in that day when the smoke, the clamor, the pain, the horror and the madness of battle would prompt you to run away or run off on a tangent.”
Walking in front of the graduates with an uplifted Bible, Coppenger urged the graduates to retain that memory “so that you might more deeply appropriate its place in the campaigns to come.”
He warned that other colors will present themselves — “from the academy and from religious entrepreneurs; enthusiasms of the media; professionalism and visions of both comfort and acclaim; family approval; nationalism; sensuality; sentimentality; the promise of gratifying retirement. But this and this alone will strategically position you in the flow of battle.”
Seventeen students were awarded the doctor of ministry degree, 35 were awarded the master of divinity degree, three received the master of church music degree and 10 graduated with the master of arts in Christian education.
Diplomas of Christian ministry were awarded to three students, with two students receiving the newly offered diploma of Christian ministry track designed to equip student wives. An additional eight students were given certificates of ministry for completing ministry wife training. One student received a certificate in Christian ministry offered through seminary extension.
In addition to a number of awards presented to graduates, missions associate professor Ron Rogers was honored as Faculty Member of the Year. Coppenger commended his previous service as acting academic dean and “a beloved teacher who lifts high the torch of missions.”
A listing of awards presented to Midwestern Seminary graduates is posted in SBCNet News Room.