July 2014

Schools with Baptist ties offer advice to graduates

July 1 2014 by Emily Blake, BR Editorial Aide

This year 1,986 students graduated with bachelors, associates and certificates from universities and colleges with North Carolina Baptist ties.
Chowan University in Murfreesboro celebrated its 165th commencement ceremony with guest speaker, United States Senator for North Carolina, Richard Burr, on May 11 in the Helms Center. He spoke to 182 graduates.
The College at Southeastern in Wake Forest honored 38 students graduating with associate and bachelor’s degrees May 16. “Look back at all you have done … as an offering to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” said Andy Davis, commencement speaker and senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham.
At Campbell University in Buies Creek, 607 students earned bachelor’s degrees and 27 received associate degrees in the May and June graduation ceremonies at the main campus and the Camp Lejeune campus.
Commencement speaker Karen McNeil-Miller, president of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, shared the stories of four Campbell graduates who faced challenging journeys to the commencement stage and encouraged them to enjoy one of the few days that would be “all about them.”


BSC photo by Mike Creswell
Chandler B. Black, left, of Greenville, S.C., adjusts the collar of Brent Burke of Canton, N.C., on June 6 while Eil Williams of Stanley, N.C., observes. The three were finishing associate degrees at Fruitland Baptist Bible College.

Gardner–Webb University in Boiling Springs hosted commencement May 12 in the Lutz-Yelton Convocation Center. There were more than 360 graduates of Gardner-Webb’s Degree Completion Program (formerly GOAL) and the traditional undergraduate program. Kaitlyn Elizabeth Spiro, a double major in political science and journalism from Sylva, N.C., shared thoughts on her years at Gardner-Webb in a commencement address. She drew wisdom from Mark Twain that was offered to her: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why,’” she quoted. “I know now that the day I find out why I was placed on this earth is yet to come. It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow. But this place – this important and transformative place – has given me more than I could have ever imagined. If you are unsure of where your path will lead, know that Gardner-Webb will always claim you.”
Mars Hill University (MHU) had its spring commencement ceremonies May 10 in the Moore Auditorium. 121 students received bachelor’s degrees. Keynote speaker for the graduation was Dixon Free, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincolnton and current chair of the MHU board of trustees. Ebony Simpson, an art major from Wingate, was the traditional age student speaker for the graduation. The adult and graduate studies student speaker was Nathan Rice, a social work major from Asheville. The invocation was given by India Ellis, a business administration major from Spruce Pine.
With a record 622 graduates, Wingate University graduated the largest class ever at the 118th commencement ceremony May 17 on the Academic Quadrangle. The class of 1964 celebrated its 50th anniversary by leading the 2014 class in the procession. N.C. Governor Pat McCrory gave the commencement. “Failure is a necessary ingredient of success,” McCrory told the audience of more than 5,500, “but only if one of the lessons it teaches is the ability to bounce back.”
Fruitland Baptist Bible College in Hendersonville graduated 29 students in their May commencement service. They awarded seven associates, two diplomas of Christian ministry, five certificates of Christian leadership from the main campus and 15 certificates of Christian leadership from the Roanoke campus. Seven of the students graduated from the school’s Hispanic track. Pastor James Gailliard from the Word Tabernacle Baptist Church in Rocky Mount was the speaker. (See story.)

7/1/2014 11:02:05 AM by Emily Blake, BR Editorial Aide | with 0 comments

SEBTS encounters the power of God in Baltimore

July 1 2014 by SEBTS Communications

Approximately 130 students and four professors from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) attended this year’s Crossover mission trip in Baltimore, the largest group from one seminary in the event’s 26-year history.
Crossover is a weeklong mission trip of intense personal witnessing located each year in the city where the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting will be held the following week. The 2014 Crossover Baltimore event took place on June 1-7. 
SEBTS students partnered with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) to reach Baltimore, one of its 32 Send cities. According to NAMB, 2,729,110 people live in metro Baltimore and only 9.9 percent are affiliated with an evangelical church.
Activities ranged from door-to-door evangelism to free car washes to ministering to the homeless. Groups also spent time working with sex-trafficking victims in partnership with a local safe house ministry.
“Baltimore is very much a broken city,” said Stephen Eccher, assistant professor of church history and reformation studies at Southeastern. “To return to my native state and witness firsthand the poverty, addiction, corruption and desperate state of the people was truly heart breaking. The hopelessness was real and evident everywhere we traveled. That is what made sharing the gospel alongside our SEBTS students such a treasure.”


Thirteen student leaders contacted local pastors and planned the ministry week for their individual teams. “Our students stepped up, served and gave of themselves to share Christ and minister to the broken,” said Alvin Reid, Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism and professor of evangelism and student ministry at SEBTS.
A larger team of 20 students was responsible for mapping “people group clusters,” or collections of like-minded people from the same geography that share a similar culture. This team located communities of Indian, Pakistani, Nepali and West African peoples.
The trip gave students an opportunity to have a renewed focus on prayer and evangelism. One team saw no fruit for two days, then they fasted and prayed. That day they saw nine come to Christ. “I’m pretty sure we cannot give too much focus to prayer and evangelism at a Great Commission school like ours,” Reid said.
Several students had little experience in intentional evangelism with strangers, but the week proved to be a positive experience. “I was convicted that for all we do, helping our students deal with people in evangelistic work is fundamental,” Reid said.
Many were challenged to go beyond their normal level of comfort in an unfamiliar city. Jeffrey McCrary, another SEBTS student, said, “I was blessed to share my faith with backslidden Christians, militant atheists and Muslims. This challenged me to prepare more for sharing my faith in different contexts.”
During the week, Southeastern students had the opportunity to connect with students from other seminaries and hear from various seminary professors.
Eight students from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, four from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 14 from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, nine from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and nine church members from Georgia and 43 students from Liberty University attended for a total of over 200 students in attendance.
“We can talk about unity all we want, but as Jonathan Edwards said, the best way to get unity is to come together to rescue people from a fire,” Reid said. “Nothing brings about unity in the SBC like coming together to share Christ.”
The group saw a total of 49 professions of faith through over 200 students. The students from Southeastern, Southwestern and Midwestern engaged in 275 gospel conversations and 371 gospel presentations.
Bob Mackey, Embrace Baltimore executive director, said “One of my favorite highlights this week is having 200 students from six seminaries volunteering the equivalent man hours of one person working 5.4 years full-time in Baltimore and sharing Christ with compassion, grace and determination.
The long-term ripple effect of Crossover on our region will last for a lifetime for all of those who met Christ this week. It will alter the missionary focus of so many of our churches to engage their neighbors more often,” Mackey said.
Participants receive three hours of course credit for attending and completing a few additional assignments. Each morning students attended class before going out into their respective communities.
Reid taught students how to share the gospel using a new resource from NAMB, the “3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide.” 
“I found the new ‘3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide’ provided by NAMB to be a tremendous aid in the presentation of the gospel during Crossover 2014,” Eccher said. “The second ‘brokenness’ circle resonated with all of the people I engaged with the gospel. This resonance not only afforded me a place of shared commonality, but also offered a seamless transition to the only remedy for such brokenness, the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Local pastors served as guest speakers in the class and shared about their journeys of ministry. Students had the opportunity to ask the speakers questions and connect with them throughout the week.
“One of the greatest blessings of Crossover 2014 was to see the excitement and joy in the faces of our SEBTS students as we shared experiences from each day,” Eccher said. “To see their faces literally light up as they recounted gospel encounters and professions of faith is something I’ll never forget.”

7/1/2014 10:54:32 AM by SEBTS Communications | with 0 comments

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