by David Leone
WAKE FOREST — Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the College at Southeastern graduated 234 at commencement exercises Friday.
During the graduation of nearly 65 students from the The College at Southeastern, seminary President Daniel Akin challenged the students to always speak the truth through love.
Many of the graduates at Friday’s ceremony, held in Binkley Chapel, will be going on to either further their education or begin mission or teaching work. In fact, many of the graduates from the Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies program weren’t able to cross the stage themselves to receive their diplomas, having already started their work elsewhere.
Akin encouraged graduates during the ceremony to share their faith but do it the right way.
“You are going to people who don’t want you there, and you’ll be sharing a message — a truth — they don’t want to hear. Share it anyway,” Akin challenged.
In his message, he subtly added that the graduates should go forth and share views regarding issues that have been rampant in the political realm, including the sacredness of natural life from conception to giving birth, that sexual intercourse can only take place in the context of marriage and that the marriage can only occur between a man and a woman.
“Your love of Christ is over your love of nation,” he said, adding, “Speak truth that is love whether it is popular or not.”
Asking those in the audience to follow the graduates’ example of giving their life to Jesus, Akin publicly apologized for times when people see “Christians who act un-Christlike,” and who “speak the truth in an ugly, harsh, arrogant and condescending” manner.
“Truth without love is judgmental and legalistic,” he said.
In addition to Akin’s charge, attendees prayed and sang hymns during the graduation, and Akin recognized parents and spouses of the graduates as a way to show appreciation for their continued support.
As each student walked across the stage, there were smiles, tears and a few who exclaimed, “I did it!” before gathering with their friends and family for a reception following the ceremony.
The College at Southeastern was started in 1994 as a separate part of the seminary to offer undergraduate degrees with a Christian curriculum to “seek to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission.”
Go out and Facebook
During commencement exercises that same day for the seminary, Thom Rainer, SEBTS alumnus, author and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, asked grads to tap their multitasking potential to spread the gospel — even through social media, if need be.
Rainer said the Millennial Generation’s propensity for multitasking and expedience should be tapped because life is over before you know it. The generation also has the smallest percentage of individuals who self-identify as Christian, he noted, pointing out they should be reached by whatever means available.
“You know you did not come here to remain still,” he said. “Go to unknown cultures. God has prepared the harvest. … As you go, go with the Great Commission and awareness that life is but a vapor.”
As if to punctuate his remarks, a child in the balcony turned on a handheld video game, from which a computerized voice issued: “Are you ready! Are you ready!”
Seminary grads come from all over the nation and the world, including from Zimbabwe, Singapore and South Korea, but several grads live locally, including Kellen Lake, Stephen Breagy, Peter Cardillo, Derek George, Zachary Jones, William Aleshire and Nhiem Tran of Wake Forest; Jennifer Hall of Youngsville and Steven Chromy of Bunn.
Local College at Southeastern graduates include Joshua McDonald, James Bunch, Justin Martin, Nathan Roberts, Kyle Kitchens, Emily Mercer and Caitlin Coley of Wake Forest; Margaret Hebda, Matthew Sellek and Taylor Pilkington of Raleigh; William Ohlandt of Franklinton and Jennifer Hall of Youngsville.