Attractively placed around the podium in The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) Wellness Center were beautiful green ferns facing an excited group of loved-ones awaiting the sound of “Pomp and Circumstance” to usher in the graduating seniors. BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen stood pleased at the front of the stage as the clock struck 10:00 a.m. and the faculty and graduates marched in with their black flowing gowns and radiant smiles. The heartwarming invocation was provided by Brian Taylor, Pastor of Damascus Baptist Church of Graceville. BCF Music and Worship Division Chair Bill Davis asked family and friends to remain standing after the invocation and join in singing hymn favorite, “Crown Him with Many Crowns.”
The excitement in the room continued as Kinchen recognized the parents, spouses, grandparents, and children of the graduates. Cheers and even some tears were shed as graduates remembered the sacrifices made to obtain their degree. Before the special anthem and a surprise to everyone, Kinchen asked Business Leadership Professor Chantel Oney to join him on the platform. Professor Oney recently completed all of the requirements necessary for her Doctors degree in Business Management and in recognition of her accomplishment, Kinchen and Academic Dean Robin Jumper “hooded” her with her doctoral hood; a beautiful tradition recognizing scholarship and honor.
BCF Senior Isis Masterpalo and Riley Higgins, the fourth son of Charles and Kim Higgins to graduate from BCF, presented the anthem “The Lord’s Prayer” prior to Kinchen’s commencement address. Sharing words from the Apostle Paul inside a prison cell, Kinchen stated, “Be of good cheer… when you’re wondering where am I? Where am I going? What do I do now? Be of good cheer no matter what’s next.” Kinchen reminded graduates that the Lord didn’t bring them this far to leave them but to use them, bless them, and walk beside them. “God gives us strength for today and hope for tomorrow, joy,” stated Kinchen. “A promise from God’s Word when we remain faithful and submit to His will.”
Anticipation mounted as BCF Academic Dean Robin Jumper approached the podium to present the graduating seniors to President Kinchen. “By the authority given to me by the Trustees of The Baptist College of Florida,” stated Kinchen, “I confer the degree to which you are entitled …. with all of the rights, privileges, and responsibilities. You may turn your tassel.”
With tassels turned and hearts full, Davis invited everyone to stand to sing the college hymn with the new alumni. “Tell me the story of Jesus…” one song that epitomizes the mandate of BCF’s changing the world.
The closing benediction by Adjunct Professor and Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Graceville Naethan Hendrix was a charge and challenge to graduates and a reminder of the Lord’s sacrifice. The BCF Instrumental Ensemble led by Professor Ron Branning played the recessional, “Sine Nomine” as the graduates exited the building with a brief moment of “Oh When the Saints Go Marching in…” as the graduates headed for the courtyard to take pictures with family and friends.
The BCF Spring 2022 graduating class endured numerous obstacles to get to their graduation day to include Hurricane Michael and the COVID-19 pandemic. During Hurricane Michael many students remained on campus and lived without electricity and cell phone signals. Students rallied around the community and worked with Disaster Relief in an effort to make a difference and help clean up Graceville. Even when COVID-19 shook their worlds, they never gave up. They were required to complete their classes online for a semester, wear mask when they returned to campus, and use hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes on everything, especially themselves.
Graduation is not the end of an era but the beginning of a new adventure for the BCF graduates now that the pictures are taken and the accolades are complete. For the graduates, some are headed to graduate school while others will be serving in churches, starting new churches, working with mission organizations, teaching children about Jesus, and leading the way in business. Wherever the Lord leads them, be assured that they know what they believe, why they believe it, and how to share that with someone else.
For more information on the college that is changing the world, contact the Admissions Office at 800-328-2660, ext. 460 or check out the website www.baptistcollege.edu.
2021 BCF News
2020 BCF News
2019 BCF News