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May 14, 2012

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Front Row (left to right): Dr. Thomas Kinchen (President), Michael Orr, Kelly Johnson, Stephanie Whipple, Jamie Webb, Susanne Lossing, Hannah Howington, Abby Kline, Katherine Butts, Deeanna Sardina, April Phillips, Kayla Buchanan, Amanda Rachel Lauen, Heather Larson, Celia Bass, Hannah Johnson, Carolyn Holmes, Stephanie Orr, Brittany Thompson, Chelsea Whatley, April Lee, Patricia Ayala (Marshal) Brandon Bristow, Dr. R.C. Hammack (Senior Vice President).

Middle Row (left to right): Timothy Burdin (Marshal) Christopher Shearer, Todd Larson, Johnny Frambo, Kyle Vorobok, Jeffrey Scott Hagan II, Nicholas Swarthout, Kirt Douglas Lee, Jason Bo Hamilton, Christopher Pruitt, Matthew Williams, Mahlon LeCroix, Bryan Phillips, Matthew Bennett, James Powell, Michael Herrera, Curtis Catrett, William Caleb Sears, Eric Most, Gerald Kirby.

Back Row (left to right): David Ellis, Joe Ragsdale, Daniel Cunningham, Brian Cason, Tyler Hildebran, Eric Davis, Richard Denson, Stephen Blitch, Philip Horvath, Aaron Jacob Chilton, Chasen Faulk, Brennen Denson, Jeffrey Take II, Brandon Ellis, Antonio Wright, Michael Hogeland, Andrew Saludez, Christopher Grafton.

Black caps and flowing gowns filled The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) Assembly Center on Friday, May 11th marking a historic day in the life of the college. Sixty-five seniors earned their diplomas which included the first Master's recipient, Rev. Michael Orr, Senior Pastor at the First Baptist Church in Chipley; the first Business Leadership graduates: Celia Bass, Katie Butts, Rachel Lauen and Chris Shearer; three husbands who graduated with their wives: Todd and Heather Larson, Bryan and April Phillips, and Michael and Stephanie Orr; a set of brothers: Brennen and Richard Denson; and the BCF Registrar Stephanie Orr.

The excited graduates marched into the building as the BCF Brass Ensemble, under the direction of Professor Ron Branning, played the traditional processional "Pomp and Circumstance." The commencement service officially began with the invocation led by BCF Vice President for Development Rev. Charles Parker followed by Music and Worship Division Chair Bill Davis leading the congregation in hymn favorite "Holy, Holy, Holy."

BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen welcomed guests and recognized family members of the graduating class. Noting BCF's 70th session, which will begin in the fall, Kinchen mentioned that Senior Vice President R. C. Hammack has attended 68 graduations at The Baptist College of Florida and Professor Burns has attended 66. Adding to the list of historic events, the Women's Ensemble and Male Chorale merged for the first time during a graduation service to provide the special music entitled "The Mind of Christ" led by Professor Buford Cox.

Kinchen addressed the graduating class with a powerful message from the desert calling graduates to look back at where they've been, look deep into God's Word for instructions, and have no fear. Referencing the first chapter of the book of Joshua after Moses died and it was time for Joshua to lead, Kinchen charged graduates to "Be strong and courageous, be very courageous. Do not be afraid, God is with you wherever you go. Be Strong and Courageous!"

Following the recommendation by the senior vice president, registrar and approval by the faculty, Kinchen conferred degrees on the graduating class and instructed them to move their tassel. Davis led the congregation in singing the College Hymn, "Tell Me the Story of Jesus," and the benediction was offered by BCF's first Master's Graduate Michael Orr.

With a myriad of plans for the future, the 2012 May graduating class exited in a flurry during the recessional by the Brass Ensemble. Family and friends quickly joined graduates outside around the courtyard offering congratulations and documenting the historic event with photographs.

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Brothers, Brennen and Richard Denson, graduate from The Baptist College of Florida during the 2012 May Graduation Ceremony.

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President Thomas A. Kinchen awards the first BCF Master of Arts in Christian Studies degree to Michael Orr, Senior Pastor at the First Baptist Church in Chipley.