Graduation season is my most favorite time of year! I love seeing the colorful regalia. I love hearing Pomp and Circumstance. But mostly I love the emotion of the day–the smiling faces of graduates, the relieved faces of their families, the proud faces of their professors. And there are always a few tears on graduation day.
Last Saturday, I had the best seat in the house at Central Baptist Theological Seminary’s graduation. Because I was the commencement speaker, I sat on the platform–in the seat nearest the graduates and with a clear view as each one stepped forward to receive his or her diploma. I was close enough to hear the words of congratulations and blessings spoken by President Molly T. Marshall to each graduate. (That’s me on the far right in the photo). There was more beauty in those moments than I could even take in.
Yet perhaps even more beautiful for me on Saturday was the diversity. A Chin youth choir sang with great joy and enthusiasm. The scripture was read in Burmese, Korean, and English. The Master of Divinity graduates were not just from Kansas and Missouri but also hailed from California, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. The great majority of graduates awarded the Doctor of Ministry were from Myanmar. Central is truly a global seminary. The differences in languages, cultures, callings, and life experiences made Saturday a day I will never forget.
My trip to Kansas also offered me the opportunity to participate in the Blessing of the Women Graduates, an annual tradition at the seminary (one of the wonderful benefits of having a woman president). Seasoned ministers along with Central alumnae, professors, staff members, and trustees gathered and spoke words of affirmation and wisdom, and then each woman graduate was presented with ribbons, tied together with love by their president. The time of blessing ended with hugs and tears! I unexpectedly became a recipient as my friend, Molly placed ribbons around my neck and spoke lovely words of affirmation to me.
The joys of graduation–surely there is no better day on a seminary’s calendar! Thanks be to God.
Pam Durso is executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia.