Gospel ministers must proclaim God’s Word with the urgency of eternal consequences, said President R. Albert Mohler Jr. in his May 20 commencement address to the 2016 graduates of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS).
During the institution’s 216th commencement exercises on the seminary lawn in Louisville, Ky., 284 master’s and doctoral students from 44 states and 15 countries received their degrees. A week earlier, a record 150 graduates of the seminary’s undergraduate school, Boyce College, received certificate, associate and bachelor’s degrees.
In an address from 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 titled “That the Word of the Lord May Speed Ahead,” Mohler said ministers protect and proclaim the good news of Jesus with the hope that it would “speed ahead” in anticipation of the day of the Lord.
SBTS Photos by Emil Handke
Master of divinity graduates (left to right) Galin Roquet, David Sackett, S. Craig Sanders, and Jonathan Saunders recite the graduation pledge.
“Paul’s language underlines his hope that the gospel would spread quickly to the ends of the earth,” Mohler said. “He yearns to see the Word of God, the gospel of Christ, race across the world, knowing that the day of the Lord is coming, when there will be no more days left to preach. Paul’s vision was driven by urgency and eschatology, knowing that the time is short and eternity is at stake.”
Mohler emphasized how the Word of the Lord would “speed ahead and be honored” in the ministry of the graduates. Mohler explained that this task is handed down through generations.
“You represent the hopes and dreams of Christians down through the ages, from the time of the apostles and martyrs until now … You carry our hopes for the spread of the gospel and the upbuilding of Christ’s church,” Mohler said. “In the church age, ministry is handed from generation to generation. Our humble determination and our heart’s desire must be to receive this charge and to serve faithfully – planting and watering in the fields of ministry and taking care how we build upon the foundation laid before us.”
Also at graduation, Mohler presented the annual Findley B. and Louvenia Edge Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence to Stephen J. Wellum, professor of Christian theology and editor of “The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology.” Wellum has taught at SBTS since 1999. He is the co-author of “Kingdom Through Covenant” and author of forthcoming works on the doctrine of Christ.
The Josephine S. and James L. Baggott Outstanding Graduate Award was presented to Andrés Vera, a master of divinity graduate from Toronto, Canada. Vera’s wife Courtney received her master of arts degree at the commencement.
T. Vaughn Walker, professor of black church studies and WMU professor of Christian ministries, participated in commencement with a reading from the Old Testament. Walker, who was the first African-American professor elected to the faculty at any of the six seminaries of the Southern Baptist Convention, retired after 30 years of teaching at SBTS.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Annie Corser is a writer for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.)