OBU celebrated 277 graduates during Spring Commencement ceremonies held on the University’s Shawnee campus May 14-15. The events took place in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium. The University held five separate ceremonies in order to facilitate physical distancing for graduates and their guests.
Dr. Doug Melton, pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, and Kim Swyden, executive director of ministries of Jesus in Edmond, served as guest speakers during the ceremonies. Swyden spoke during the first commencement ceremony for the College of Nursing, held May 14. Melton spoke during the remaining four ceremonies, all held May 15.
Graduating students embarked on a symbolic final walk across campus as OBU students before filing into Raley Chapel for each ceremony. “The Walk” mirrors one many of the graduating students took during Welcome Week as new students at OBU. The students, in academic regalia, passed through rows of OBU faculty members before reaching the chapel’s east steps.
Swyden challenged the nursing graduates to integrate their faith into their professional practice in everything they do in their nursing careers.
“May I say to, graduates, because of everything you have experienced here at Oklahoma Baptist University College of Nursing, because of all the preparation and the equipping, your faith-work integration, all the engaging. You are ready. And I urge you to live a life worthy of the high calling of God in Christ.”
Melton spoke from John 21, discussing the personal nature of our relationships with Jesus and the personal calling He has placed on all of our lives.
“Among all of the world religions, all of the world’s faiths, Christianity is unique in believing in a personal God. A God who knows you better than you know yourself,” he said. “He is a personal God.”
He discussed how Peter received a personal call from a personal God, and how that same call is now going to them as graduates in a personal way.
“That personal God who loves you, who loves you more than anyone else will ever love you. The God who knows your past and who knows your future and who knows your present. He is saying to you, ‘Follow me.’”
He concluded with a direct call to the graduates to seek Jesus in all they do.
“Graduates, here is what I’m saying to you. Follow Jesus Christ. It is the true path in life. It will lead you to truth. It will set you free. It will bring you rest, and I can’t even begin to tell you the half of it. I pray God’s richest blessings on your life.”
OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas presided over the ceremonies and delivered the charge to graduates in each ceremony.
“From this day forward, you carry a special distinction, because you are graduates of Oklahoma Baptist University,” Thomas said. “Each year, I’m amazed at the extraordinary caliber of students we have at OBU. I’m amazed to see what God has done in your life, and I anticipate what God will continue to do through your life.”
“I want to commend each of you, for your commitment, for your faithfulness, for your diligence,” he said. “As your president, my prayer for you is that you allow the Lord Jesus unmitigated permission to work through your life in any way that He sees fit so the world might be positively changed.”
Thomas continued, encouraging the graduates regarding the impact they will make upon the world.
“Graduates of OBU, you are fundamentally agents of change in our world. You are agents of transformation and agents for the good of our world. As you reflect on your time on Bison Hill, remember how OBU has challenged you. Remember how OBU has changed you. We have equipped you to live worthy of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. We have challenged you to discern, to serve, to love one another, and to love our Lord God in our communities.”
“I want to charge you today, take the lessons, the learning, the skills, the virtues, the dispositions you have gained here,” he said, “and live them out loud in our world.
“Students, graduates…our world desperately needs your voice. We need your influence. So, from Bison Hill, I charge you…Go into our world. Make a difference. Go and live well. Serve your community. Go and serve the Lord Christ. He is king over all. You have been equipped. So, as one of my heroes Mother Teresa would say, ‘Go and do something beautiful for God.’”
Videos of all five commencement ceremonies as well as the nursing pinning ceremony are available on the OBU YouTube channel.