On a beautiful sunny day in Watertown, WI, 161 Maranatha Baptist University and 6 Maranatha Baptist Seminary graduates received their diplomas, eager to close one chapter in their lives and begin the next.
Amidst the pageantry and excitement of the 2014 Commencement Exercises, graduates were exhorted by those who have led by example in word and in deed throughout their years at Maranatha, to “stay on the right side of history” and to “go beyond.”
View the MBU Commencement 2014 photo galleries.
“You’re going to see many more frontal attacks upon your faith,” University President Marty Marriott shared at Friday’s Convocation. “The day of subtlety is over; the world is out to attack Christianity. But God will give you the grace to stand if you will.” Dr. Marriott encouraged the graduates, “You’re on the right side of history. Live for the best, live for the highest, live for the unlimited. As believers, serving Jesus puts you on the winning side of history forever.”
Dr. John R. Brock was the first to receive an official Maranatha Baptist University degree, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. This third doctorate bestowed upon Dr. Brock (he has an earned Doctor of Education from Pepperdine University and an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Maranatha Baptist Seminary) recognized his “visionary leadership in leading Maranatha in the pursuit and attainment of regional accreditation” and his “demonstrated faith in thirty years of dedicated leadership as Maranatha’s chief academic officer and forty years of service in Christian education,” among many other worthy contributions.
Dr. Brock was the speaker for Thursday’s Baccalaureate Address. “Your next step is beyond,” Dr. Brock said to the graduates. “Your mentor will be God, His work, and His abiding spirit—using successes and failures, surpluses and hardships, joys and sorrows. Make it count for God. Go beyond! Go beyond these halls! God is sending you away to the local church and to the world ‘To the Praise of His Glory.’”
The President’s Award, granted for outstanding demonstration of qualities indicating fitness for gospel ministry, was awarded to Luke Backhaus. The Founder’s Awards, given to both a female and male graduate who best exemplifies the founding purpose and spirit of Maranatha Baptist University went to Hannah Rebekah Pill and Garrett Christian Furnari.
Eric Williams and Garrett Holmes tied for highest GPA of the class of 2014, with a perfect 4.0.
Garrett Holmes represented the ROTC commissioning well with his testimony, quoting John Donne who said, “No man is an island unto himself.” Holmes acknowledged the “truly remarkable” contribution of so many friends and family members who were on hand to witness the event. “I would like to especially recognize my father, Kenneth Holmes,” he said, “whose example of military service in years past has been the primary inspiration for me to follow in your footsteps. Thank you so much for your service to our country and for what that means.”
Individual awards for each school included: Outstanding Science Student: Doris Wolford; Outstanding Bible Student: Tanner Jotblad; School of Business Student Achievement Award: Thomas R. Woodby; Outstanding Future Teacher: Emily Ranch; Outstanding Humanities Student: Garrett Furnari; Outstanding Senior Musician: Annelies Harmon.
The School of Nursing “Florence Nightingale Best Bedside Nurse Award” was given to Heather Smith. Maranatha Baptist Seminary’s Outstanding Seminary Student in Theology was David Marriott, who earned his Master of Divinity degree.
Caleb Ostrander presented the senior gift, the installation of new bubblers in Old Main. “Our hope is that all those who thirst would come, drink, and find rest,” Ostrander quipped. “Thank you as the first class MBU.”
Pastor Chad Prigge of Fellowship Baptist Church in Watertown, WI, closed the 2014 Commencement Exercises in prayer.