FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–With 190 students walking the stage, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary celebrated its final graduation service at Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, May 6.
The seminary hopes to hold commencement services in its new chapel, which is under construction on the seminary campus, beginning this December.
Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson thanked the church for hosting the seminary’s spring and fall commencement services for the past 34 years. He presented pastor Michael Dean a set of Southwestern’s Library of Centennial Classics, a 10-book collection containing works written by notable figures from the seminary’s past, including its first two presidents.
“As often as you see [these books] on the shelf,” Patterson said, “I want you to remember that we love you, we thank God for you, and we are indebted to you forever.”
Patterson addressed graduates in a message based on 1 Chronicles 28, challenging them to seek after God wholeheartedly and to minister faithfully.
“I commission you and challenge you today to know the God of your fathers,” Patterson said, encouraging graduates to devote themselves to prayer and to the study of God’s Word. He also exhorted graduates to serve God with a loyal heart and mind, recognizing that their “motives are important.”
“Be certain of one thing,” he said, “that your motive is as pure as the fresh fallen snow. Be sure that the only motives that seize your heart as you do your ministry are your great love for the Lord Jesus Christ and your deep, profound, abiding love for those people to whom you minister.”
Graduates must not fail in ministry, Patterson added, because the world depends upon the message they were trained to proclaim. Education and charisma alone, however, cannot make a ministry successful, he said.
“You must have His presence, His power, His unction in your ministry,” Patterson said. With such an anointing, “there is no end to what you will accomplish and what God will do with you.”
The 190 graduates received degrees in various bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs. The seminary awarded diplomas to its first graduates in the master of arts in archaeology and biblical studies program.
“It feels good to be done,” said Cameron Strange, who received his bachelor of arts in humanities degree in the College at Southwestern and who will now begin his advanced master of divinity degree at the seminary. “I think, overall, the humanities program really set the bar high enough that I didn’t compromise anything in my education, and I feel fully prepared to step right into the advanced M.Div. without any hesitation.”
Since its founding in 1908, more than 42,000 students have graduated from Southwestern Seminary and the College at Southwestern.
Benjamin Hawkins is senior writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.