Graduates Urged to Lead with Humility, Integrity

Graduates Urged to Lead with Humility, Integrity

More than 200 graduates were recognized during morning commencement exercises at BBC&S, with President Jim Jeffery urging those earning diplomas to continue learning as they pursue lives marked by spiritual leadership.

BBC&SDiplomas presented on May 5 at a packed Phelps Student Center ranged from a one-year Bible Certificate to six PhDs and two Doctor of Ministry degrees. Graduates included residents of 21 states and six other nations -- Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Germany, and Philippines. Commencement also included bachelor's degrees for the first set of undergraduate Business Administration majors at BBC.

Among those taking the stage was graduate Tim Walker. The Pre-Seminary major from Romulus, MI, said his BBC education "consistently pushed me toward growth."

"The relationships I have had the opportunity to build with fellow students, along with staff and faculty members, has had a tremendous impact," said Walker, whose post-graduation plans include helping to start a new church in Wilkes-Barre, PA. "Having friends and mentors who are there to challenge, encourage, stretch, and talk through things has been the thing God has really used to cement the lessons."

See a complete list of graduates and the commencement program here.

Pictures from the day are posted at

BBC&S'Like the Heart of David'
President Jeffery encouraged graduates, families, friends, faculty, and staff through his commencement address, "The Heart of Spiritual Leadership," based on Psalm 78:70-72. He drew out aspects of humility, integrity, and competency as marks of spiritual leadership.

"This commencement is not the end. It is the launching pad for your future as a leader. Go share our faith. Grow in grace. Take up your cross and follow Christ. Serve as a member of the body of Christ. Lead others by the influence of your humble walk with God, your integrity of character, and your competency of leadership skills."

He charged graduates to increase in the knowledge of God as they serve and lead others in a range of careers.

"The heart of a spiritual leader needs to be like the heart of David, who was a man after God's own heart and whose heart God saw when he chose him to be a spiritual leader," he said. "We lead from our heart if we are going to reach the hearts of others."

President Jeffery's commencement message will be posted soon at

In addition to students from other nations, states represented among the graduates included Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Powerful Stories
Among those graduating Saturday were Maicol Venter and Rodrigo Bender from Novo Hamburgo, Porto Alegre, Brazil. The longtime friends each earned Master of Divinity degrees from Baptist Bible Seminary.

BBC&SThe pair grew up near each other and met through a basketball team organized by a missionary, Dan Richner, who later saw them as future ministry leaders. After attending different Christian higher education institutions in the U.S., the two crossed paths again when they each decided to come to BBS.

"It's been an encouragement to have one of my best friends around as we worked through challenging classes and ministries," Maicol said. "I consider myself blessed to have shared such a unique experience with my friend, who shared the same passion for ministry and knew me well enough to encourage me to work hard when I was feeling like I wouldn't make it."

While at BBS, both have been involved with Mountain Stream Baptist Church in Marshalls Creek, PA. Rod is finalizing his internship at the church. Maicol and his wife, Mandy, returned to Brazil for his internship. He will return there after graduation, where he will help start new churches, work in sports ministries, disciple others, and serve at Hope Baptist Church.

"BBS is very serious about teaching their students the Word of God, and I have truly benefitted from the classes I have taken here," Maicol said. "BBS also desires and encourages their students to apply the knowledge they are receiving in the classroom while they are still here. I have been challenged to use my head-knowledge in daily situations of life and ministry by my professors and mentors. This has helped me to understand the practical side of what I have been learning in the classroom."

80th Commencement
The event is the 80th commencement ceremony in school history. Founded in 1932 in Johnson City, NY, BBC&S moved to its current location in Clarks Summit, PA, in 1968.

The invocation was given by John Greening, Chairman of the BBC&S Board of Trustees. The BBC Concert Chorale, directed by Dr. Larry Kauffman, performed special music, including "I Know That My Redeemer Lives," and "How Great Thou Art." The Prayer of Dedication was presented by BBC Associate Professor Dr. Scott Severance. The Scripture reading was offered by BBS Associate Professor Dr. Gary Gromacki.

Along with a diploma, graduates walking the stage were given a towel, a reminder to walk humbly with God and to live as a servant to others.

The exercises included the carrying of an academic mace. The wooden mace was a gift from Dr. Russell Kooy of Jacksonville, OR, a retired surgeon who designed and crafted the mace himself and donated the piece.

Read more about the mace here.

Those in attendance sang the college hymn, "Holding Fast the Faithful Word" by W.S. Miller and "Guide Me, O Though Great Jehovah" by William Williams.

Baptist Bible College & Seminary offers an outstanding Christian education through on-campus, online, and other distance learning options. Students go beyond the ordinary, learning to learn and serve with excellence as they gain critical leadership and life skills.

To learn more, go to or call 570.586.2400.

Posted on: 5/5/2012 10:34:21 AM

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