The spring semester culminates with our annual graduation exercises. It’s a time of celebration and honor. I love wearing my regalia especially when Cheryl and I are together. Our uniforms are identical. The colors are symbolic. The hood includes colors to represent The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where we earned our highest degrees and colors for our field of study, Christian Education. The three chevrons on each sleeve are royal blue to indicate our highest degree is a Doctor of Philosophy. We had two strands of piping sewn around the chevrons, crimson indicates divinity or theological studies and light blue symbolizes education. I designed the double piping so it is unique. No one wears regalia just like ours.
However, the joy of commencement is the excitement the graduates bring. They have worked hard on graduate degree programs that are a minimum of two years in length. Most have worked full time while going to school so that it has taken them longer than the minimum. Always, we have gotten especially close to a few of them. There are always several international graduates who have enriched our lives. Many of the students are already in full-time ministry. All are headed in that direction. Some will be pastors or associate pastors, others hospital or military chaplains, and others will be counselors. These are adults of all ages who share a call to full-time ministry and years of advanced preparation for ministry. I can only imagine the lives that are going to be touched by them. Souls will be saved and God will be glorified.
To be candid, the end of the semester is also satisfying because it signals the successful completion of an academic year. I always feel good when a project is completed. It doesn’t matter what the project was. If it consumed part of my life, I have a sense of satisfaction when it comes to completion. This is true even if it was something I felt coerced into doing. It is especially true when I can delude myself into believing it was a job well done. The nice thing about an academic year is there are multiple projects from which to choose. If one course went poorly there should be another one that went better and “better” is always something to celebrate.
This is a special semester. I have completed four years of directing our school’s efforts toward reaffirmation of accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). The SACS project was completed last spring and the Commission on Accreditation renewed our regional accreditation for ten years, the maximum. The ATS project ended this spring with a recommendation that we be renewed for ten years as well; their Commission will make it official next month.
I am thankful God has blessed the Seminary with accreditation. I am thankful for the successful completion of my role. I am not the reason we were reaffirmed; I hope I contributed. The outcome makes me look more effective than I am. So this semester triggers a change in my role at the seminary. For the first time I will not carry an administrative work load at our school other than that routinely assigned to faculty, i.e., committee leadership. I have been working toward this for fifteen years and I am thankful it appears to be coming to fruition. I may finally be able to complete some writing projects and just the thought of it feels good.
May 25, 2010