“It has been the great pleasure of this institution to call together on this day, the convocation of the faithful to celebrate what Christ has done and is doing in his church,” said President R. Albert Mohler, Jr. of the winter Commencement of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From the opening procession to the closing benediction, the graduation ceremony was a service of Christian worship as both the service and the motivation of the graduates are full of gratitude to the Lord and determination to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
Southern Seminary graduated 289 students in its 232nd commencement, a record for December Graduation. A graduation assembly filled Alumni Chapel to celebrate as students representing 37 of states and 27 countries had their degrees conferred. Surveying the graduates, Mohler said, “You’re following a long line, a don’t just press back 1859 when this school was established…That long line goes back to prophets and apostles. You have to understand the joy in this room to see that long line joined by the many who are here.” Mohler continued, “I invite you to look around this room and to look at these graduates and ask yourself, Is God not faithful to his promises?”
In his commencement address, President Mohler turned to Luke 2:36-38 to encourage the graduates with the example of Anna, who, after seeing Jesus, “began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Mohler said of this text, “I think these verses are absolutely key to our understanding of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the identity of Christ, his mission, and the fulfillment of the promises of old.”
Mohler asked the graduates, “What does this all mean?” He continued, “It means that we are here in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And we are here in order that the truths declared in this passage, the truths declared by Simeon and the truths declared by Anna are the truths that we take to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and to the nations hungry for the gospel.” Looking to what is ahead for the graduates, Mohler urged them, “It is your task to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who are waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
“We are here today with such joy today because we know that each and every single one of you has an absolutely crucial role to play in this great purpose,” said Mohler. “We are gathered to celebrate that God is calling out ministers of the gospel and missionaries to the nations.”
During the commencement, faculty looked on with joy as the graduates’ hard work was celebrated. From the first moment these men and women enrolled in classes, the faculty has consistently taught, trained, and equipped these ministers of the gospel for enduring, faithful service to the church. As the graduates depart, they go prepared by the faculty to do what they vowed in the Graduation Pledge: “We will minister in fidelity and in the purity of the gospel.”
In a final charge to the graduates, Mohler said, “Be resolute. Be faithful. Because the church of the Lord Jesus Christ deserves and needs to be served and led and fed by those who will, in season and out of season, do nothing but teach the unadulterated word of God, who will do nothing but preach the gospel with all of its saving power; who will do nothing but to maintain and preserve and protect the faith once for all delivered to the saints.”
Southern Seminary’s commencement ceremony was a reminder of God’s faithfulness to Southern Seminary and to his church to call men and women who will labor to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. As graduates embark on their respective ministries, they each carry the confidence that their preparation at seminary will impact both time and eternity through their faithful service to Christ and his church.