218 degrees mark Midwestern's largest commencement
In comprising the seminary's largest graduating class, 218 degrees were conferred -- 33 undergraduate, 153 graduate and 31 doctoral degrees and 1 post-graduate certificate.
Additionally, two students were among the first to complete Midwestern's Korean-language Ph.D. degree, and one student received the seminary's first master of arts in ministry service degree.
President Jason Allen challenged students in his commencement address to "have a ministry marked by sacrifice," followed by the presentation of Midwestern's Professor of the Year award.
Allen, introducing his expository message from Mark 10:32-43, noted that a significant difference between many of the commencement ceremonies around the country and the one at Midwestern is that the one at the seminary is far more consequential.
"This season is marked by a sense of militancy that we intend to continue to wage war with the Word and the Spirit against the forces of darkness," Allen said, noting at the same time, "It is a sense of celebration because we know that the battle has been won by Christ, and we are departing to serve His cause triumphantly. There is a sense of urgency because we know it is our task to go with the gift of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Actions that believers take on behalf of the Gospel are not merely symbolic, he said; rather, they are a calling by Jesus to give our best and our all for His Gospel, His Scriptures and His church.
"We are called to a ministry of sacrifice," Allen said. "This is an attitude we all must possess because the road before us all who take the seriously the call of Christ may well be one marked by ongoing sacrifice."
Mark 10:32-43 recounts Jesus sharing with the disciples for a third time that the cross was an imminent destination for Him, and yet James and John sought a position of status and importance in the Kingdom. Jesus, then as the passage progresses, described to them what it means to have a ministry of sacrifice.
Allen portrayed this in three points: Be prepared to suffer for the Kingdom; be submitted to the plan of the Kingdom; and be focused on the way of the Kingdom.
Part of a minister's responsibility is to have a keen sense of what God has called him or her to, and then work to be available for that ministry, Allen said.
Additionally, he warned that if graduates view their degrees in the way the world does -- as merely a resume-builder and credential to obtain better employment -- then "Lord help you."
"But if you view your diploma as a reminder of God's grace -- that you had the privilege to study, learn and grow and become more familiar and equipped with the Scriptures -- then we have done well, and you have done well."
Allen concluded his message saying, "To all of you, from those I know the greatest to those I know the least, this is a day to propel you forward into great things for the Kingdom. Just do not be confused about what those great things are to be."
Following his address, Allen announced Midwestern's Professor of the Year -- Jason Duesing, the seminary's provost and associate professor of historical theology who will celebrate his fifth anniversary at the Kansas City, Mo., campus on Aug. 1.
Duesing came to Midwestern after serving more than a decade on the administrative leadership team and faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Duesing earned his Ph.D. in historical theology and Baptist studies from Southwestern in 2008. He also holds an M.Div. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and an undergraduate degree in speech communications from Texas A&M University in College Station.
Duesing serves as a research fellow for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, on the board of directors for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, academic editor of the Midwestern Journal of Theology and general editor for the seminary's For the Church resources. He also is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and a regular contributor to Baptist Press.
Midwestern's commencement can be viewed in its entirety at www.mbts.edu/2019/05/2019-spring-graduation.