More than 260 receive degrees at Union University’s graduation
The Messenger 12.24.07
A complex and diverse world needs the commitment and contributions that alumni of Christian colleges like Union University in Jackson can offer, Deborah Wilds recently told Union graduates.
“In his sovereignty, God has just the proper place for each of us,” Ms. Wilds said. “And it is through prayer and seeking His face through Jesus Christ that gives us the proper discernment to recognize that place.
“As Christian college graduates, you have been uniquely equipped to integrate biblical truth, intellectual capital and professional skills to live in a complex and increasingly diverse world.”
Ms. Wilds is president and chief operating officer of the College Success Foundation, an organization that provides scholarships and mentoring to low-income, high-potential students. She was the keynote speaker for the fall commencement services of the 183rd graduation class from Union University, where 263 students received their degrees at West Jackson Baptist Church.
It was Union’s largest Decem-ber graduation ever and included the first group of graduates from Union’s Master of Christian Studies program — Richard Vaughan Bragg, Randall Anthony Kellough, Robert C. Maxwell and Stephanie Brown Morris.
As part of the ceremony, Union President David S. Dockery presented the Robert E. Craig Service Award to Thad and Alicia Smotherman of Arlington, Texas. The award is named after Union’s 13th president, who led the university for more than two decades and was responsible for reestablishing Union with the churches of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Craig was also responsible for relocating the university campus to north Jackson.
The Smothermans serve on Union’s Board of Regents and for the past 10 years have hosted and supported Union’s alumni work in Texas.
Union also presented an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree to Stephen C. Reynolds, president and CEO of Baptist Memorial Health Care of Memphis. In September, BMHC made a $1 million donation to the health care programs at Union.
In her address, Ms. Wilds told graduates that there are many challenges awaiting them. Society has no shortage of needs, she said, but there is a shortage of people with the long-term commitment to address some of society’s problems — such as racial injustice.
Ms. Wilds said even after more than 50 years since the Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, educational and economic opportunities are still largely contingent upon race and ethnicity.
“Our God is a God of equity. Our God is a God of justice,” Ms. Wilds said. “As Christians, we should be at the forefront of efforts to bring about racial justice, healing and reconciliation in our nation.”
To do that, Ms. Wilds encouraged graduates to follow the example of Jesus’ life of service to others.
“Our Lord’s message was utterly simple, but completely profound,” she said.