Article contributed by Marty Love.
The congregation stood for the presentation of the flags as the ROTC Color Guard opened the ceremony of the 50th Convocation of Maranatha Baptist University on Friday, May 4. As the graduates filed into the auditorium, family members, friends, and loved ones listened as the instruments played “Look, ye saints, the sight is glorious.” Numbering 232 strong, the Class of 2018 was the largest graduating class to date, surpassing last year’s record numbers.
As the procession ended, the congregation sang Thomas Chisolm’s much-loved hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” sung at the first Baccalaureate service 50 years ago. Then, Executive Vice President Matt Davis offered the invocation, followed by Tracy Foster, DBA, dean of the School of Business, who read the day’s text from Acts 9:1-9.
Accompanied with a French horn obbligato, The Heritage Singers sang: “Let every tribe on every shore sing His glorious worth. To be the bearer of His light now He sends you forth” (“Now I Send You Forth”—Eileen Berry/Dan Forrest).
Dr. Marty Marriott, president of Maranatha Baptist University, recognized members of the Board of Trustees, as well as Captain Jon DeGreef from the ROTC program. He then announced that the $50,000-goal of this year’s offering is “lofty,” but invited guests to participate in what God will do. The funds will purchase two 15-passenger vans, needed replacements for an aging fleet.
Graduating senior Kaylin Heller delighted the audience with a flute offertory of the age-old favorite, “Amazing Grace.”
Dr. Marty Marriott delivered the commencement address entitled: “What will you have me to do?” This question asked by Paul, “is the ultimate question,” Marriott noted. “The future is about commitment. Without commitment, there is no direction or guidance, no assessment of opportunities, and no goals.”
“It ain’t like football. You can’t make up no trick plays,” Marriott quoted Yankee’s manager Yogi Berra, and then equated it on a spiritual plane. “God doesn’t have any trick plays. There are no secrets to successful Christian living or ministry. It all begins with unwavering, focused commitment to the Lord.” Furthermore, he contended, we are designed by God for commitment to His will. Anything less will be worthless.
“What will you have me to do, Lord?”
Focusing on these words and citing examples from Paul’s life, Marriott suggested four truths:
- First—God will save you, when you repent of sin and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Second—God will show you what He wants you to do.
- Third—God will send you where He wants you to go.
- Last—God will use you in ways and to a degree you could never imagine.
In conclusion, Marriott emphasized, “There will be no regrets for putting the Lord first in everything, but we must be willing to ask, ‘Lord, what will you have me to do?’ and then do it!”
Announcement of Awards and Conferral of Degrees
The following were honored for achievements in academic excellence:
- Highest GPA: Rachel Mayes
- Second highest GPA: Kylee Zempel
- Outstanding Bible Student: Kaitlyn Dobson
- Outstanding Science Student: Daniel Kroll
- Outstanding Humanities Student: Kylee Zempel
- Outstanding Senior Musician: Joseph Steinbart
- School of Business Student Achievement Award: Hannah Flegal
- Outstanding Future Teacher: Rachel Mayes
- Florence Nightingale Best Bedside Nurse Award: Luke Cleghorn
- Outstanding Online Student: Linda Henderson
- Outstanding Seminary Student in Biblical Languages Award: Tanner Jotblad
- Outstanding Seminary Student in Theology Award: Benjamin Flegal
ROTC cadets receiving awards were also individually acknowledged.
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 Joseph Steinbart and Melissa Troutman.
The highest award of all, The President’s Award, granted for outstanding demonstration of qualities indicating fitness for gospel ministry, went to Brett Cournoyer.
Presentation of diplomas followed.
A Doctor of Divinity degree was conferred on Michael Gordon, pastor of First Baptist Church of Hartford, Wisconsin, who has served his congregation humbly and faithfully for nearly 45 years. Dr. Marriott explained that Mike was an obvious choice for these reasons:
- He is a Maranatha alumnus who has been associated with the school from the beginning
- His wife and four daughters are Maranatha graduates
- His ministry is defined by exemplary devotion to God’s Word and a deep love for His people
- His life has demonstrated the “hallmark” of MBU grads: faithful service to the Lord
The men’s ensemble, led by Dr. David Ledgerwood, sang “The Banner of the Cross,’ and Dr. Marriott offered a prayer of dedication.
The Class of 2018 marched out to the triumphant strains of Mrs. Thelma Cedarholm’s regal college hymn, “To the Praise of His Glory,” and gathered to ring the bell, while Dr. Bob Loggans, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church of Watertown, Wisconsin, and Secretary of the Board of Trustees, gave the closing benediction.
View more photos in the MBU photo gallery.