There are no Oscars given for Christian integrity and character, and you won’t be featured on American Idol.
“But when you keep the faith, you are living the way the Christian life was designed to be lived. In order to be a change agent in our world, we need to have that kind of focus,” said Dr. Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist Convention State Board of Missions, during the 45th graduation ceremony for the University of Mobile.
Lance called upon graduates of the Christian university to follow the example cited by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 of living their lives as an offering to God, fighting the good fight, finishing the race and keeping the faith.
More than 340 graduates received diplomas and honors at the May 14 ceremony at the Mobile Civic Center. The university awarded the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Gary Palmer of Birmingham, Ala., president and co-founder of the Alabama Policy Institute. The Shofar Award for faithful service by a minister was presented to Dr. William Terry “Pete” Dunn, pastor of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Uriah, Ala., who retired from the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board after more than 30 years as a missionary in Arab-speaking lands.
The university’s top two student awards, the William K. Weaver Jr. Excellence Award and the Annie Boyd Parker Weaver Excellence Award, were presented to graduates Andrew Frederick Schmitt of Tallassee, Ala., and Elizabeth Morgan Carnley of Enterprise, Ala. Retiring professors Drs. Gene Perkins and Billy Hinson carried the ceremonial mace and led the procession into the arena. Perkins is a member of the university’s first faculty and was the only original faculty member still teaching at the school. The ceremony was dedicated in memory of Dr. Larry Chambers, associate professor of psychology, who died in August 2010.
Lance told graduates the Christian life is not an earned life; it is a given life.
“Before us today we have the opportunity to see these graduates go into this world as change agents to make a difference in the human debris of lostness and decimation. We applaud their achievements, we admire their steadfastness. Now we commission them to go into the world and change lives,” Lance said.
As a leader in Alabama Baptist tornado relief efforts in the state, Lance said the April 27 tornadoes that ripped across Alabama have wounded and bloodied the state, destroying towns and devastating infrastructure of the region.
“And yet we know that in the midst of all these manmade things, what abides and what remains is the power of God and the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.
He said the life of Jesus Christ serves as “the magnificent example of what we are to do in this world. “
He added, “I am reminded so much of those unsung heroes, the saints behind the scenes, who will probably never be featured in books, never be interviewed on talk shows, never receive even the honors we have seen this morning, and yet, when it is all over, the ultimate reward is ‘well done, good and faithful servant.’
“You’re changed,” he told graduates. “By the grace of God, you are changed. Now change the world, so that no matter how many tornadoes are unleashed, no matter how many Katrinas come our way, the main thing is serving Him and living for Him. Change the world,” Lance concluded.
For more information on the University of Mobile, visit the website at www.umobile.edu
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Dr. Rick Lance
Dr. Gene Perkins, left, and Dr. Billy Hinson