The Fall 2019 Commencement Ceremony was held December 6, on the beautiful campus of The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) in Graceville. The college was booming with excitement as the BCF Wellness Center was filled to capacity with family, friends, faculty, and staff. People arrived early traveling from great distances to celebrate the years of hard work, diligent study, and dedication the graduating seniors put into fulfilling the requirements for their degree.
One of the unique things about this year's graduating class was the incredible family connections to the past. Two of the graduating seniors, Savannah Orr and Abigail (Wiggins) Butler, were actually born in Graceville while their parents attended BCF. Mike and Stephanie Orr arrived at BCF in 1995 and Savannah was born in 1998; Mike earned his undergraduate degree in 1999, his graduate degree in 2012, and Stephanie earned her bachelor's degree in 2012. Andy and Kelly Wiggins arrived at BCF in 1995 and Abigail was born in 1997; Andy earned his undergraduate degree in 2002, Kelly will graduate in May 2020, Abigail's brother Zack graduated from BCF in Dec. 2016, her sister Joanna will graduate next year, and her husband Matthew Butler was in the fall 2019 graduating class. There were numerous family connections within this graduating class to include Matthew Butler's sister Lauren, Al Johnson's sister Leah, Evan Sammons' brother JonSeth, Patrick Dennison's brother Hunter, Callie Melvin's sister Marissa, Elizabeth Fletcher's husband Kevin, and Constance Bell's wife Marcia, all of which were BCF graduates.
Many with tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces, the forty-four graduating seniors entered through the double-doors of the BCF Wellness Center for the last time as BCF students. Making their way down the center aisle, the BCF College Winds played "Pomp and Circumstance" under the direction of Professor Ron Branning. Following the traditional processional, the invocation was given by BCF Alumni and father of one of the graduates Mike Orr as he asked the Lord's blessings on this special occasion, on the institution, and on everyone who was in attendance. BCF Music and Worship Division Chair Bill Davis then led the congregation in the timeless hymn, "Great is thy Faithfulness."
After recognizing the pivotal role of prayers and support from family and friends on the academic career of every graduate, BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen provided a warm welcome and expressed his thankfulness for everyone who came. In addition to recognizing the families and the two graduates that were born while their parents attended BCF, Kinchen also mentioned one student that had been working on his degree faithfully for many years. Graduating senior Constance Bell was born in 1949 (having just turned 70), drives a school bus with the Dothan City Schools, and was scheduled to be ordained by his church following graduation. His wife, Marcia Bell earned her BCF degree in Music in 2017.
The audience's attention was then turned towards the BCF College Singers as they performed the delightful piece "A Jubilant Song," under the leadership of Professor Buford Cox. Kinchen then addressed the graduates and those in attendance referencing Psalm 139:5 and Jeremiah 29:11. He challenged and encouraged graduates to focus on today and embrace God's hand of protection over their eyes, thoughts, ears, and mouth. "Change comes," stated Kinchen. "I don't know about all of your tomorrows and I don't know about all of your yesterdays, but what I do know is that God has a perfect plan for your life. He goes before you and behind you with His hand on your head."
After the confirmation by the BCF Registrar Stephanie Orr and the BCF faculty, final approval was granted by Kinchen and the seniors walked across the stage to accept their diplomas. Family and friends clapped and cheered as the new college graduates earned their credentials and could finally appreciate all the hard work. The 2019 fall graduating class included three students who received associate degrees, thirty-three earning their bachelor's degrees, and two master's degree recipients, making it a memorable day for the entire class.
Graduates were then instructed to move their tassels from right to left, symbolizing the final official act of graduation. After a thunderous applause for the graduates, the audience joined the faculty, staff, and new alumni in singing the BCF college hymn, "Tell Me the Story of Jesus."
Before the benediction, Kinchen shared a personal moment of thanks and gratitude as he presented retiring BCF Vice-President for Development Charles R. Parker with a plaque for his years of faithful service to The Baptist College of Florida. "A president could not have a better friend, a stronger supporter, a better colleague, or a man with more character than Charles Parker," stated Kinchen.
Following the benediction, the BCF College Winds played the recessional ending with "O Happy Day" as the graduates left the BCF Wellness Center with diplomas in hand, excited for the future. The entire ceremony acknowledged the academic accomplishments of the new graduates as they embark on "Changing the World Through the Unchanging Word®."
For more information on becoming a student at The Baptist College of Florida, please call 800.328.2660 or visit the website at www.baptistcollege.edu.
2021 BCF News
2020 BCF News
2019 BCF News