Graduates reminded to rejoice
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – One hundred years after the institution moved from Waco to Fort Worth, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary graduates were exhorted to continue to walk in integrity through life and ministry regardless of the result during spring commencement, May 8.
Such faithfulness will ensure that the world knows “you are exactly what you claim to be,” said President Paige Patterson during his commissioning speech. “And if you will be faithful to the assignment you have, then God will maintain your work, whatever His purpose for you.”
Preaching about the apostles’ imprisonment in Acts 5, Patterson jokingly compared students’ time spent earning their degrees as a completed prison sentence. “I want to remind each of you today that this is in your future, in some cases,” Patterson told graduates.
Patterson cautioned graduates that there is no guarantee life here will continue as it has for them in the same circumstances that they have enjoyed. “And many of you will not be serving in this country anyway,” Patterson told the diverse group, which represented eight countries as well as those wishing to serve overseas. “Many of you will go to places where your life will be in jeopardy.”
Regardless, Patterson used Scripture to remind the students that the presence of God will be with them wherever they may serve—something that enabled the early church to continue their ministry, “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name” (Acts 5:41, NASB).
“Rejoicing that they could suffer: aren’t those words in strange proximity to one another?” Patterson pointed out. “That is the key to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will suffer, not only possibly physically, but you will certainly, every one of you, suffer misunderstanding, misrepresentation, abuse and attack of various kinds in the ministry to which you go.
“It will come,” he assured them. “You have a choice at that point. You may either become bitter and resent what has happened to you, and that bitterness will permeate everything about you and everything around you to the point that there will be no joy at all, or you can choose to rejoice that you, too, are counted worthy to suffer for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Southwestern administrators conferred 214 degrees, including 21 undergraduate, 172 master’s and 19 doctorates.
At least three married couples walked the stage one after the other, having earned their degrees at the same time: Chris and Michelle Boyd (M.Div. 2010); D.L. and Katie Frugé (M.Div. 2010); and James and Michelle McNatt Myers (M.A.C.E. 2010).
Katie Frugé said her time pursuing her master’s at Southwestern “has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This has been a place where I have grown spiritually, seen my marriage flourish, made lifelong friends, and been stretched academically.”
Frugé earned a concentration in women’s studies during the pursuit of her degree and has been accepted for doctoral work at Southwestern through the School of Theology.
John Wohlgemuth (M.Div. 2010) also appreciates the intangibles he took from his time in school in addition to his studies in Greek, Hebrew and hermeneutics. “I feel that one of the best aspects of seminary is the common bond that students and their families share as we walk through this experience together,” he said.
Emily Felts Atwood (B.A. Humanities 2010) was the first graduate with a concentration in homemaking from the College at Southwestern. Atwood said her coursework prepared her by integrating hands-on culinary and clothing construction courses with challenging coursework that gives her a strong biblical paradigm for womanhood.
Southwestern faculty donned black cowboy hats for the spring commencement to commemorate the seminary’s move to Fort Worth, Texas, a hundred years prior in 1910, with Patterson naming his “prejudice for the west, Fort Worth and its traditions” as another reason for the headwear.