KANSAS CITY—Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) held its 50th commencement exercises May 22 at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty.
The event, in which 120 different degrees were awarded, was presided over by R. Philip Roberts, MBTS president. Presenting the commencement address was James W. Richards, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s executive director.
During his presentation, Richards encouraged the graduates with a verse of Scripture from Colossians 4:17 about how to make the most of their lives and ministries for the Lord Jesus Christ.
“As you move forward in ministry, you must intently study the perspective and purpose God has given you,” Richards said. “There is a calling God places in our lives. It is mystical and impossible for us to fully explain, yet that calling is just as real as we are here today. It is a sovereign calling, not something we have conjured up. This is something God has placed upon us.”
The keynote speaker went on to say that the calling God placed upon this group of graduates is also specific. He used examples from 1 Samuel 3:9-10, where God spoke to Samuel and gave him a specific purpose. Samuel listened and was prepared to fulfill it. Richards also noted how Paul and Barnabas were specifically called out by the Holy Spirit to be placed in the ministry in Acts 13:2. “God specifically calls us to that task at hand,” he added.
The fact that each graduate’s calling to the ministry has been anointed by God was the speaker’s final point. He added that it is not the education, giftedness or personality each has been given that will make their ministry successful. “The end result is that no matter what you’ve been given, you must have an anointing from the Lord to accomplish your ministry. Zechariah 4:6 says, ‘It is not by strength or by might, but by my Spirit says the Lord of Hosts,’” Richards said.
The executive director wrapped up his message with three practical applications of the verse from Colossians. He said for the graduates to maintain their personal devotion times with the Lord, to prioritize their families, and to place them on the altar by finding the will of God in their lives.
In conclusion, Roberts charged the graduates to “love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and all your strength. To do justly; to love mercy; to walk humbly with your God; to deny yourself; to take up your cross daily and follow the Lord Jesus Christ; to be filled and go on being filled with the Holy Spirit … .” He also added that they “Let the prayer of missionary explorer, evangelist and servant of God, David Livingston, be yours, ‘Lord lead me anywhere, but go with me. Lay any burden upon me. Only sustain me. Sever any cords that bind me, except the one that binds me to thee.’”
Among the graduates were two students with Missouri ties:
• Micah Fries received a master of divinity degree and is currently senior pastor at Frederick Boulevard Baptist Church, St. Joseph. He is the son of Paul and Cheryl Fries of Richland Center, Wis.
• David Elliott received a master of divinity degree. He is the son of Gordon and Bonnie Elliott of Minnetonka, Minn. He and his wife, Ashlee, reside in Kansas City.
In addition to the awarding of degrees, the seminary and college announced the recipients of 17 academic awards, with the honor of the Wanda J. Keatley Award going to Kelley L. Perkins, a Biblical archaeology major. The prize for this award was an all-expenses-paid trip to the Holy Land.
In other awards, Thor Madsen, the dean of Midwestern Baptist College, SBC and associate professor of New Testament, ethics, and philosophy of religion, was named professor of the year. There were also five Presidential Medallions awarded. This honor is given to recognize significant contributors and supporters of MBTS. The medallions were presented to Richards; Andrzej Seweryn, president, Warsaw (Poland) Baptist Theological Seminary; Nazir Masih, pastor, First Baptist Church of Chandigarh, India; and Gary and Arlene Krings of the MBTS Board of Regents.