Graduates encouraged to 'reach for the summit'

Graduates encouraged to 'reach for the summit'

More than 230 graduates were recognized during morning commencement exercises at BBC&S, with President Jim Jeffery urging those earning diplomas to "climb higher in following and serving Jesus Christ."

Diplomas presented on May 11 at a filled Phelps Student Center on campus ranged from one-year Bible Certificates to five doctoral-level degrees. Graduates included residents of 27 states and eight other nations -- Bermuda, Canada, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Myanmar, and Peru.

BBC&SCommencement also for the first time included Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in a range of existing academic programs. Previous state guidelines limited the name of degrees conferred.

Among those taking the stage was graduate Jaycee Shirk. The Business Administration major from Batavia, NY, said her college education prepared her well for the future.

"BBC taught me how to better relate to people, to think biblically, and to carry a business mindset," said Shirk, who is considering different post-graduation employment offers. "I feel confident and secure as I leave BBC and begin a job in my field. I am excited to see how God will use what I have learned in the rest of my life and how He will use the skills I have gained here to bring Him glory."

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

Pictures from the day are posted at

BBC&S'Reach the Summit'
President Jim Jeffery, the featured speaker, encouraged graduates, families, and friends in attendance. His address, "Reach the Summit," described BBC&S' passion for its graduates.

The message wrapped together President Jeffery's series on Second Timothy preached in weekly chapels over the course of the academic year.

"Like mountain climbers, keeping a grip is essential to ascending the mountain," he said. "Likewise, we learn from the example of Paul in his final letter written to his student Timothy that we need to keep our spiritual grip on four essentials."

He described the four essentials as keeping a grip on confidence in Christ (2 Tim. 1:12), faithfulness to Christ (2 Tim. 2:2,15), truth from Christ (2 Tim. 3:14-17), and endurance for Christ (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

"You are charting the course ahead to the next summits that God has called you to climb," he said.

President Jeffery's commencement message will be posted soon at

Graduates and their families enjoyed a special time with President and Mrs. Jeffery and the BBC faculty the evening before Commencement.

Range of Graduates
Among the graduates Saturday were Cindy Lutz, a mother of 12 and grandmother of seven from Flushing, MI, who was joined on stage by one of her sons, Brett. Her daughter-in-law, Kathryn (Winkler) Lutz, also earned a degree but could not attend the exercises.

BBC&SCindy, who started her college coursework 37 years ago in Grand Rapids, MI, put her education on hold to focus on raising her children.

"When we had our last one six years ago, I decided to take courses and get back in the swing of things," she said.

At the suggestion of her son, she later enrolled in
BBC's Degree Completion program. She took seven courses online over the course of the 2012-13 academic year to finish her bachelor's degree.

Now in her mid-50s, Cindy would like to use her degree to teach or work in a full-time ministry setting and sees her degree as an important step in that direction.

Sharing the stage with her son, she said, is icing on the cake.

"It is an awesome moment for me as a mom," said Cindy, who is the first of her siblings to earn a college degree.

81st Commencement
The event was the 81st commencement ceremony in BBC&S' history. Founded in 1932 in Johnson City, NY, the current campus in Clarks Summit, PA was obtained in 1968.

In addition to students from other nations, states represented among the graduates included Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The invocation was given by John Greening, Chairman of the BBC&S Board of Trustees. The BBC Chamber Singers, directed by Dr. David Harris, performed special music, including "God is Seen," and "Silence the Stones." The Prayer of Dedication was presented by BBC Professor Dr. Don McCall. The Scripture reading was offered by BBS Professor Dr. Dann Austin.

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.

BBC&SThe 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 "My Hope Is in the Lord" by Norman Clayton.

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 serve with excellence as they gain critical leadership and life skills.

To learn more, go to or call 570.586.2400.

Posted on: 5/14/2013 7:48:14 AM

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