Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Reflections on Commencements Past and Future

By Roy Ciampa, PhD
Associate Professor of New Testament

Commencement day is approaching again! Gordon-Conwell is about to graduate another distinguished group of seminary students and the faculty is grateful to God, as always, for the fine brothers and sisters in Christ he has brought to us. They (like you, graduates who have gone before them) have worked very hard to gain the best possible foundation of knowledge and skills and to exercise and refine their gifts in order to most effectively serve the advancement of God’s kingdom purposes. The upcoming commencement exercises lead me to reflect on so many former students and the vast variety of ways in which they are faithfully serving Christ around the world.

Some alumni have the opportunity to come back and visit the seminary from time to time and it is always such a pleasure to see them and hear about what God is doing in their lives and through their ministries. Others of you serve far from any GCTS campus and may never see a former professor face-to-face again. Be assured that even if you are out of sight you are not out of mind. We think of you and pray for you, especially at this time of year as we recall graduation ceremonies of prior years and the way each student left their mark on our classes and on the wider seminary community.

Faculty are constantly praying for alumni, whether by name and with specific requests as they are aware of the particular needs and challenges of former students or in general prayers as they think about and pray for those God has brought through the seminary over the years and the faithful and sacrificial ways you minister wherever it is you have been called to serve. Paul’s affirmation to the Thessalonians applies to the GCTS faculty and their thoughts concerning you: “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thessalonians 1:2-3; TNIV). If you get the chance, be sure to let one or more of those faculty members who left a mark on you know how you are doing. It will undoubtedly refresh and focus their prayers for you and encourage them all the more as they look forward to serving the next generation of students. Your faithful service of the Lord encourages us as we look forward to celebrating future commencements and having to say goodbye to other students who have also left their mark on us.

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