2024 Commencement Ceremony

Opening of the Ceremony 

The procession of elated students marched into the gymnasium on Friday, May 3, to “For All the Saints,played by Peter Wright.

After Dr. David Brown led the packed auditorium in the uplifting hymn, “Rejoice, the Lord is King,” Maranatha’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Matthew Davis, opened the auspicious occasion in prayer, which noted the mission of MBU to be “To the praise of His glory.” He delivered the invocation by stating that degrees are awarded on the authority of the Board of Trustees; those present were Bob Loggans, David Oliver, Randell Gillespie, Chad Prigge, Mike Stoltenberg, Dave Schlagel and Jeremiah Cochran.

Dr. Davis also announced the retirement of Dr. William Licht, and thanked him for 31 years of service.

Chancellor Marty Marriott read Psalm 1, followed by special music by graduate Jaren Fair, who sang “Use Me, Lord” which expresses the desire of believers to live as redeemed people, bring honor to God, and see the needs of others.

Challenge by Dr. Anderson

As President Dr. David Anderson took the podium for the commencement address, he drew laughs for remarking, “As many of you know, I’m finishing my Freshman year.” As it was his first year in office as president, he proceeded to thank the student body for the blessing they were to him and his family throughout the year, the faculty and staff for being the “warp and woof” of Maranatha, and the administration and Chancellor for their steadfastness. He also thanked CEO Dr. Matt Davis, notable as Maranatha’s resident lawyer, for the refreshing attention to detail he brings to the executive team.

Dr. Anderson began his challenge by recalling the school’s chapel sermon series in Hebrews 11, wherein graduates were reminded that they still have a race to run. He then read from 2 Peter 3:10-18, noting that the Petrine Epistles are a challenge to work through, but fitting in that Peter, a very smart fisherman, warns against living for this world.  Dr. Anderson encouraged the Class of 2024 as he read: 1.) to “be diligent that you are found of him in peace,” by studying His word and obeying it; 2.) to consider the Lord’s longsuffering, and not to wrest the meaning of Scripture but take it as face value; and 3.) to beware of being led astray by the world, because to fall from one’s own steadfastness—and follow the way of the lawless—is destruction, from which there is no escape.  Anderson closed with the admonition that everything can fall apart but God still gives grace, as verse 17 says: “But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

For the offertory, graduating senior and pianist Allison Morken played “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.” 

Outstanding Student Awards

Dr. Licht came to the podium to announce awards that had been given at Baccalaureate for Outstanding Student in each academic department: 

  • Bible Institute: Eliana Bixby
  • College of Bible and Church Ministries: Zachary Foerster
  • Department of Applied Science: Mallory Willette
  • Department of Humanities: Victoria Kirby
  • Department of Music: Allison Morken
  • Department of Interdisciplinary Studies: Tamara Rickard
  • School of Business: Rebekah D’Oyley
  • School of Education: Cathleen Gillespie
  • School of Nursing: Madison Meals
  • Online and Distance Learning: Madison Schmidt
  • Maranatha Baptist Seminary | Theology: Nathan Huston
  • Maranatha Baptist Seminary | Biblical Languages: Westley Markle

Highest GPA, President’s and Founder’s Awards

Dr. Anderson awarded medals to Jenna Clark and Allison Morken for having the highest and second-highest GPA, respectively.  

Tyler Lacock was granted the President’s Award for outstanding demonstration of qualities indicating fitness for gospel ministry. The Founder’s Awards, given to both a female and male graduate who best exemplify the founding purpose and spirit of Maranatha Baptist University, went to Esther Bishop and Matthew Holloway. 

Conferral of Degrees

The Class of 2024 was composed of 240 graduates representing 37 states, 7 foreign countries, and earning a total of 254 certificates or degrees. Each graduate was called by degree and department to receive his or her diploma. 

Honorary Doctorate 

Dr. David Oliver, Pastor of Ashley Baptist Church in Belding, Michigan was given an honorary Doctor of Divinity by Dr. Anderson. Oliver was awarded this honor for his sacrificial life and exemplary testimony, faithful support to Christian education and the ministry of Maranatha, his dedication to ministry as pastor, his faithful exposition of the Word of God, for being a lifelong student and impacting countless souls for the cause of Christ.

Closing of the Ceremony 

True to tradition, the Praisemen sang “The Banner of the Cross” following the conferral of diplomas. Dr. Anderson then offered a prayer of dedication and invited students to “ring the bell.” Marshalls directed faculty and graduates in a march out of the auditorium to Maranatha’s theme song, “To the Praise of His Glory,” written by Thelma Cedarholm. To close the ceremony, Dr. Bob Loggans, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Watertown, gave the benediction. 

Following the ceremony, outside in the grassy courtyard, the graduates celebrated their graduation by tossing their caps into the air. The alumni bell rang to officially close out the school year. 

To view the Commencement ceremony, click here 

To view photos, click here (will continue to be updated in coming weeks).