By Elaine Phillips
COCHRANE, AB—Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary & College conferred fifteen degrees and three certificates at its thirtieth graduation ceremony on May 4, 2019. The commencement address was given by Dr. Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Dr. Akin’s challenge to graduands and guests was taken from Hebrews 12:1–3 in which the writer uses the imagery of a long-distance race to describe the Christian journey. Akin reminded listeners to find encouragement as they run (12:1), both from earthly winners (cf. Hebrews 11:32–35a) and from heavenly winners (cf. Hebrews 11:34b–11:40).
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, ESV). He exhorted the graduating class to focus on the essentials as they run (12:1). In order to run cleanly, confidently and consistently, they are to “throw off” anything that slows them down or hinders them in their race, including sin, “which so easily ensnares” or “entangles”; furthermore, they are to run with endurance. “It is easy to start well,” he said, “but more difficult to finish well.” He advised asking God for wisdom and discernment in saying no to good things, at times, in order to say yes to the best things He has to offer.
Finally, those in the race are to follow the example of Christ, the “founder and perfecter of our faith” as they run (12:2–3). Keeping their eyes on Jesus will result in keeping their hearts focused on Him. The speaker exhorted listeners to consider Jesus, to meditate on Him (12:3).
Earlier in the ceremony, the audience was addressed by Gerry Taillon who brought greetings from the CNBC. He shared some of his family’s journey with a granddaughter who has leukemia, and exhorted graduands to stand firm and have faith in trying times. A cloud of witnesses surrounds the faithful as the race is being run.
Danny Akin’s message echoes the words often shared by Bob Shelton, NAMB Send City missionary for Calgary: “Enjoy the journey. Stay the course. Finish well.”
This year’s Delta Epsilon Chi Honour Society Award went to Tammy Hambrook. Nominees must exhibit Christian character and leadership ability and must have achieved a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.3 on a 4-point scale. The Cunningham Christian Service Award went to Beth Dullaard. This award honours the memory of John and Isabel Cunningham, former pastor and wife at Cambrian Heights Baptist Church in Calgary, Alberta.
This year, two students, Andy Menjivar and Jesse Doell, shared the Mountain View Academic Merit Award for the highest GPA in the previous fall term. The Church Planting Leadership Award went to Calum Dullaard. Samuel Bernard received the Randall Harper Preaching Award.
Hanna Greenwood, a student with a passion for reaching the lost, as evidenced in her life, was presented with the Jesse Morales Evangelism Award. Russ Falk was given the LifeWay Pastoral Leadership Award. Finally, the Blackaby Spiritual Leadership Award was presented to chaplain Sam Agustin.
Dr. Dan Morgan, who retires this year, received Faculty Achievement Recognition for outstanding service and leadership in the field of church planting. The award was presented by the acting dean, Dr. Glenn Watson.
In addition to three certificates—two Samuel Program Certificates (SPC) and one Seminary Certificate in Christian Studies (SCCS)—the CSBS&C conferred fifteen degrees this year, namely one Bachelor of Christian Ministry (BCMin), four Master of Christian Studies (MCS), six Master of Christian Ministries (MCMin), and four Master of Divinity degrees (MDiv), one with thesis.
2019 graduates (left-right, front row to back):
Photographer: Brenda Peacock
Tammy Hambrook, BCMin*; Samuel Bernard, MDiv; Sam Agustin, MDiv; Ryuhui Jo, MCS; Beth Dullaard, MCMin; Tamara Mitton, MDiv (with thesis);
Andy McPeak, MCMin; Kirby Schmidt-Teigen, MCS; Hanna Greenwood, MCMin; Calum Dullaard, MCS;
Jesse Doell, MCMin *; Holly Isaac, MCMin; Joshua Barnes, SPC; Russ Falk, MDiv*;
Two certificates and two degrees were presented in absentia:
Jacob McCulloch, SPC;
Robyn Booth, SCCS;
Alan Casasempere, MCS*;
Jerry Bailey, MCMin.
*With distinction (cumulative grade point average of 3.8 or higher)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.(Hebrews 12:1–3, ESV)