FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary celebrated the final commencement ceremony of its centennial year Dec. 12 at Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.
In a tradition that began at the spring convocation, the faculty once again topped their academic regalia with beaver-felt cowboy hats.
“It is the 100th year of celebration,” Paige Patterson, the seminary’s president, said. “And this is Texas.”
Joe Hardin, associate professor of instrumental and jazz studies, led the faculty in a song he wrote this year titled “As You Go,” which underscores the seminary motto from Matthew 10:7. Though the students became familiar with the song in chapel during the fall semester, the occasion marked the first time it was included in a graduation ceremony.
The seminary conferred 254 degrees on students in the presence of faculty, family, fellow students and guests. Ten students received undergraduate degrees, 222 students received master’s degrees and 22 received doctoral degrees.
In his address to the graduates, Patterson reflected on God’s intervention in the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth from Luke 1. Patterson told the graduates not to be surprised when God intervenes.
“Even though ministry has to do with eternity, it gets to be familiar, and we think we can do it without the intervention of God. You have prayed for the intervention of God. Don’t be surprised when it happens,” Patterson said, promising that ministry will bring times of trouble and fear, but if believers stay faithful to the Lord, unbelievable joy will overshadow the difficult times.
In closing, Patterson challenged the crowd to remember the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ as the “most important event in history.” In response to the sign atheists placed next to a Christmas tree and manger scene in the capitol rotunda of Olympia, Wash., that reads, “Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds,” Patterson replied, “Isn’t it interesting that atheists are so intimidated by the birth of a little baby that they have to put up a sign to refute it?”
Also at graduation, seminary leaders expressed appreciation for the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention for their “sacrificial commitment” in giving to the Cooperative Program to provide scholarships for students, especially during times of national economic uncertainty.
Michelle Myers is a writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.