By Brian Koonce
HANNIBAL – “Commit yourself, no matter your vocation, to the work of the Kingdom of God” was the message to the graduates of Hannibal-LaGrange College (HLG) during their final moments as students.
That message came May 8 at the Mabee Sports Complex in the commencement address of HLG alum, and president of the Georgia Baptist Convention, Dan Spencer. Spencer is pastor of First Baptist, Thomasville, Ga.
Spencer said he was overcome with waves of nostalgia being back at his alma mater, but his concern was more for the graduating class and their impact on the future. Most of the class of 2010 are “Millennials,” or those born from 1981 to 2001.
“The Millennials are visual, spiritual, multi-cultural and community-oriented,” he said. “They are connected, they want their work to have meaning, they want to be part of a family of friends and they crave authenticity. They are color-blind when it comes to reaching people from other ethnic groups. They are not as materialistic as the generations that preceded them. They have a strong sense of social justice. They have a strong sense of community and they are willing to serve and meet practical needs as a part of a group.”
These characteristics, Spencer said, make this class poised to be a great generation for the Lord. He said they would fit right in with young Biblical leaders such as Timothy, Epaphrus and Titus.
“The lost people in your generation want to see authentic behavior that springs from authentic beliefs and it doesn’t get any more authentic, more real, than the eternally true Word of God,” he said. “You are the most connected generation in history. If Christ-designed community in the church was tailor-made for any generation, it is you. Commit yourself, no matter your vocation, to the work of the Kingdom of God.”
Spencer issued a final challenge to the class of 2010: to create culture that points to Jesus.
“Never has there been a generation so desirous of connection like yours, and you ought to put that to work for Jesus,” he said. “I challenge you to text the Gospel, blog the Gospel, podcast the Gospel, tweet the Gospel, write on each other’s walls about the Gospel, update your status with the Gospel. Use the technology that God has given at your disposal now to get the Gospel to those who so desperately need it.”
During the ceremonies, Julie Albee, professor of education, was presented the Parkway Distinguished Scholar Award, a $1,000 prize given by Parkway Baptist Church, St. Louis based on “outstanding professional and personal contributions to Christian education.” She joined the teacher education faculty at Hannibal-LaGrange College in 2003. Albee is a member of Immanuel Baptist, Hannibal, where her husband, Mark, is pastor.
Twenty-eight students of HLG’s associates’ program received their diplomas, as did 166 bachelors’ students. Two students earned master of science in education degrees. A total of 112 students graduated in December 2009, for a grand total of 306 graduates for the 2009-10 academic year.