WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary celebrated its spring commencement May 24 with 207 graduates from 24 states and seven foreign countries receiving degrees.
The commencement began with a prayer from Sonny Perdue, the governor of Georgia, and included a charge to the graduates from Southeastern President Paige Patterson.
The seminary, located in Wake Forest, N.C., awarded associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Undergraduate degrees were granted by the seminary’s undergraduate program, Southeastern College at Wake Forest.
In delivering his charge, Patterson challenged the students to sow bountifully in their lives and Christian ministries. In doing that, they may reap bountifully according to the promise of Scripture in 2 Corinthians 9.
Patterson charged the graduates to sow bountifully in their personal walks with God, noting that only by spending time alone with God can a man or woman hope to effectively minister in the world.
Patterson also exhorted the graduates to spend time in the Word of God, searching for the truth that will make their ministries powerful. “The result will be that you will reap bountifully in the lives of the people that you seek to serve,” he said.
Patterson charged the students to stay on the path of righteousness and morality, especially considering the scandals that have damaged the witness of pastors in the modern age.
“It is imperative that we practice what we preach,” he said.
And Patterson charged the graduates to sow bountifully in courage and faith — “stand for what is right,” he said, “even if you have to stand alone” — and perhaps, most importantly, to sow bountifully in love.
“You may or may not be a great pulpiteer, but if you sow bountifully in love, then you will reap bountifully that very same thing,” Patterson said.
“Let me urge you to look for no earthly reward,” he told the graduates. “Let me urge you to keep one eye on the flock that God has given you and one eye on the Father, and devote yourself to faith and righteousness.”