Southwestern Seminary sees 10,000th female graduate during fall commencement ceremony

Alex Sibley
| Dec 6, 2019

“Yours is to be a ministry of light,” President Adam W. Greenway told the 191 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate graduates at The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s fall commencement ceremony, Dec. 6. Among these 191 graduates was the 10,000th female student to complete her theological education at Southwestern Seminary since its founding in 1908.

“Yours is to be a ministry that brings light,” Greenway continued in his charge to the graduates. “Yours is to be a ministry where people will find hope—real hope—that comes only through the life-giving power of the Gospel of Christ.”

Preaching from 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, Greenway told the graduates that “while we celebrate what you have accomplished and achieved today,” they must never forget that “it is not ultimately about what you have achieved, but about what you have received.” He referred both to their salvation and to their calls to ministry.

“And to whom much has been given, much is required—faithfulness, fidelity, integrity, humility; that the ministry God gives to you will truly be about Him and not you,” Greenway said. “Make it your aim and your desire that people may never know who you are, but that they will know the Christ whom you serve; that they will know the God whom you worship; that they will know the hope that you have found—hope that does bring light out of darkness; hope that sets captives free; the hope of the nations, which, indeed, is the hope of Christmas: the babe of Bethlehem, who is, indeed, the Christ of Calvary.”

“He is the hero of the story,” Greenway concluded. “He is the one for whom we have gathered together today. He is the one who has brought you safe thus far. And if you rely upon Him, He is the one who will take you from this place, wherever you may serve, until He calls you home to be with Him.”

Among the 191 graduates were roughly 40 female students who completed certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral studies. Of these women, Susan K. Rainey, who earned a Seminary Studies for Student Wives certificate, was the 10,000th female graduate from Southwestern Seminary in its 111-year history.

Reflecting on the milestone after commencement, Greenway said, “The 10,000th female graduate is noteworthy because of what it demonstrates about Southwestern Seminary’s longstanding commitment to train women called by God to Christian service. Now, more than ever, we are resolved to offer the best and most comprehensive options for theological education to our sisters in Christ for their more faithful service to His church.”

The seminary has trained both men and women for ministry since it began more than a century ago. In fact, the campus’ second oldest building, Barnard Hall, opened in 1915, was specifically constructed to house the Women’s Missionary Training School. As of the fall 2019 commencement ceremony, roughly 10,040 of the seminary’s 46,000 total graduates are women.

Kelsi Taylor, who received her Master of Arts in Christian Education during the fall 2019 graduation, says that Southwestern Seminary “has shaped and grown [her] significantly over the last three and a half years.”

“Southwestern not only contributed greatly to my increase of biblical knowledge and theological development, but it tended to my spiritual development,” Taylor says. “Southwestern cares for its students’ wellbeing and spiritual health. This process has been a sanctifying one, and I would recommend anyone who is needing to be equipped and prepared for their ministry to attend Southwestern.”

Jon Okinaga, who graduated with his Ph.D. in biblical counseling, conveys a similar sentiment: “I say the same thing whenever I’m blessed to meet prospective students on their tours: ‘If you are looking for a seminary where professors genuinely care about the students, come to Southwestern. If the sufficiency of Scripture is something that is important to you, come to Southwestern. … Southwestern Seminary is not only a place where you can expand your knowledge for God, but a place where you will be able to love God’s people.’”