2019 Convocation Challenges Grads: “Prepare for Long Days, Short Years”
Opening of the Ceremony
The ROTC Color Guard opened the ceremony of the 51stConvocation of Maranatha Baptist University in Watertown, Wisconsin.
Following the Color Guard, the procession of joyful students marched into the gym to the music of “Like a River Glorious.” The class of 2019 represents the largest graduating class in the history of the college.
After the congregational song “How Firm a Foundation,” Executive Vice President Matt Davis led the invocation, thanking the Lord for the opportunity to celebrate not only the graduates’ achievements but also what God had done in each of their lives.
Dr. Bruce Meyer, Professor for the College of Bible and Church Ministries, then read from Revelation 22:6-21, a passage describing the soon coming of the Lord and His invitation to those who are spiritually thirsty to “take the water of life freely.”
After the scripture reading, the Heritage Singers ensemble sang “Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness,” reminding students that only through Christ’s substitutionary death is salvation found.
Dr. Marty Marriott, president of Maranatha Baptist University, welcomed those in attendance, giving special acknowledgment to parents and grandparents who had come to celebrate the special day. After his remarks, Marriott invited people to share in an offering to help replace the Dining Complex flooring.
For the offertory, graduating senior Justine Ostrander played “Amazing Grace” on the violin, with Dr. David Ledgerwood, a professor in the Music Department, accompanying.
Challenge by Dr. Marriott: “Prepare for Long Days but Short Years.”
Dr. Marriott returned to the podium to challenge the graduates from Isaiah 50, highlighting verse 4: “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” Marriott began the sermon by telling the graduates to “[p]repare for long days but short years” in life, as daily responsibilities can seem overwhelming but time itself goes quickly. He reminded students of their calling to live in God’s presence to serve Him with joy and purpose.
Marriott’s first major admonition to the graduates was to keep listening to God. In Isaiah 50, the coming Messiah, Jesus, would listen to the voice of His Father and fulfill God’s mission for Him on the cross. Marriott encouraged the graduates to follow Christ’s example and listen to God throughout life. He said, “The Christian life only begins when we come into a relationship with God through Christ. And after that, it is our responsibility to walk with Him, to listen to Him, to hear from Him. He wants to teach us every day.” Marriott emphasized the importance of the graduates continuing to follow God’s Word for their own spiritual growth and for the ability to serve others: “If you keep God’s Word central, it will be the promised lamp to your feet and light unto your pathway.”
The second admonition that Marriott had for the graduates was to live with confidence and purpose. He pointed out Isaiah 50:7: “I have set my face like a flint,” and noted the Messiah’s submission to God’s will in the face of persecution. In the same way, Marriott charged the graduates not to resist God’s will, even in the midst of difficult circumstances and opposition. He told graduates that they were called to faithfulness and that they should have confidence that God would help them in their times of need. He reminded them that it is a great calling to speak for God in this world and, although there are obstacles, these can be opportunities to be faithful to God, to be a good testimony, and to see God work.
Marriott’s third admonition to the graduates was to remember that if they followed Christ they would have no regrets. He gave personal testimony that, when going through a difficult time in his past, he crossed paths with a former classmate who had a broken and godless life. Marriott was able to share with the former classmate what God had done in his life. This encounter gave Marriott a renewed confidence that the Lord really had worked in him and the realization that he had no regrets from following Christ. Marriott challenged the graduates to live for God to see the same results: “You will have no regrets, there will be no shame. You’ll say ‘I’ve done the right thing’ if [you] follow the course.’” He concluded by encouraging the graduates to use every opportunity to live for God. “We want to hear the words, ‘Well done thou good a faithful servant’ flow from the Savior’s lips,” he said. “There’s no better life than a life lived for Jesus Christ.”
Following Marriott’s address came the announcement of awards and the presentation of diplomas.
Kelly Dyck received the Florence Nightingale Best Bedside Nurse Award. Ethan (Grant) Gillespie received the award for Outstanding Science Student, Marilyn Huether for Outstanding Online Student, Stephanie Hommes for Outstanding College Student in Biblical Languages, Scott Henderson for School of Business Student Achievement, Hope Cupery for Outstanding Future Teacher, Sydney Luttrull for Outstanding Humanities Student, and Justine Ostrander for Outstanding Senior Musician. Cameron Rankin received the award for Outstanding College of Bible and Church Ministries Student.
Jessanna Clark earned the award for the highest GPA and Andrea Husler the award for the second highest GPA.
Cameron Rankin received The President’s Award, granted for outstanding demonstration of qualities indicating fitness for gospel ministry. 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 Sydney Luttrull and Adam Love.
Conferral of Diplomas
Each graduate was then called by degree and department to receive his or her diploma. This year saw the first dual-degree students, each of whom received both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. Dual-degree students were Ryan Rossenbach, Caleb McCarthy, Robert Kile, Jacob Schnoor, Adam Love, Melissa Lennox, and Roger Kollmansberger. The first Doctor of Ministry degree in Maranatha history was conferred on Pastor Stephen Russell.
Maranatha also conferred two honorary doctorate degrees: Doctor of Divinity to Pastor David Anderson and Doctor of Humanities to Dr. David Handyside.
Closing of the Ceremony
After the awards, the senior men’s ensemble sang “The Banner of the Cross,” and Dr. Mariott offered a prayer of dedication. 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.