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May 20, 2015

Press Photo

Pictured Left to Right: (1st Row - seated) Martha Seals, Emily Anderson, Carlee Howard, Serra Hess, Melissa Laxton, Amber Waller, Chelsea Spiers, Karen Swann, Kristen Spiers, Rachael Conrad, Shelby Bengston (2nd Row - standing) Dr. Thomas A. Kinchen (President), Ryan Pickwick (Marshal), George Shepard, Nancy Mendez, Laura Kearns, Brittany Doane, Courtney Livingston, Melodee Davis, Jody Schnell, Olan Strickland, Allen Marsh, Michelle Johnson, Kayla Ellis, Kari Crunmey, Lissette Gallegos, Justin Toffolio (Marshal) (3rd Row - standing) Stephen West, Bradley Connolly, Jeremy Keisler, Nicholas Anderson, Jaxon Stores, Jordan Stover, Travis Howard, Curtis Lucas, Paul Schelm, Caleb McKinnon, Michael Dennison, Christian Cochran, Limberry Chatas, Dr. Robin Jumper (Academic Dean) (4th Row - standing) Christopher Smith, Brandon Mejias, Jared Schneider, Frank Craft, Jonathan Gers, Ashley Baxter, Gregory Bryant, Spencer Higgins, Joshua Adams, Chase Day.

The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) Wellness Center in Graceville was filled to capacity on Friday, May 15, as friends and family gathered to celebrate the accomplishment and hard work of fifty-four students earning their degrees. Among the graduates, two received honorary doctorates, four received their masters degrees, with the remaining earning their undergraduate degree. Dressed in black caps and flowing gowns, students waited patiently before moving their tassels from the right side to the left symbolizing completion. Each commencement ceremony marks a pinnacle in the lives of graduates as they go out into the world and use the knowledge and training acquired through hours of preparation.

The traditional "Pomp and Circumstance" was played by the BCF Orchestra, led by Professor Ron Branning, as friends and family stood to honor the graduates and faculty upon their entrance. The invocation was delivered by Charles Parker, Vice President for Development, followed by a hymn of praise led by Music and Worship Division Chair Bill Davis.

BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen excitedly recognized members of the senior class and welcomed guests thanking them for their support and encouragement of the graduates. Honorary doctorates were conferred on Charles Parker and John Sullivan for their unwavering commitment to the Lord and years of faithful service. Affirming the BCF mantra, the Male Chorale sang "We Believe" by Fike, Hooper, Ryan, arr. by Duren, receiving an overwhelming applause response.

Kinchen then addressed the graduating seniors as well as those in attendance referencing the book of Nehemiah with powerful words of instruction. “We dare not be casual in our service and commitment to the work of the Lord!” stated Kinchen. “Be heartbroken to reach the lost, fortify your heart, watch out for the tractors, distractors, detractors and stay the course. I believe in you because you believe in my Jesus.”

The monumental occasion was also a time to celebrate Kinchen as the longest serving president of The Baptist College of Florida having served faithfully for 25 years. BCF Trustee Chair Kenric Conway commemorated this historic event in the life of the college by announcing the construction of a new education building to be named the “Kinchen Center” in honor of President Thomas A. Kinchen and First Lady Ruth Ann. According to Conway, funds for the building have already exceeded half of what is needed for completion and support for the new facility continues as friends of the college join in to recognize the visionary leadership and accomplishments of Kinchen.

BCF Academic Dean Robin Jumper presented the graduates to Kinchen to receive their degrees and the Registrar, Stephanie Orr, announced each graduate’s name one by one. Upon receiving their diplomas, students were then instructed to turn their tassels. This simple act represented a huge moment in the lives of the students, indicating the successful completion of all of the requirements for their degrees.

Davis led the congregation in singing the college hymn, "Tell Me the Story of Jesus," followed by the benediction offered by John Sullivan, Executive Director-Treasurer Emeritus of the Florida Baptist Convention. New graduates exited the building with flashes of cameras, ready to change the world.

For more information on how to become a student at The Baptist College of Florida, call 800.328.2660 ext. 460 or visit www.baptistcollege.edu.

Press Photo

BCF senior Marli Goodman excitedly enters the Wellness Center to receive her degree. She is one of several students that have multiple family members who are BCF alumni and currently serving in leadership positions throughout Florida.