Pictured Above: Front Row (Right to Left) Katherine Collins, Heather Irene Fish, Elizabeth Margaret Gregory, Marlee Machelle Lassiter, Cheryl Lee Elligson, Cassidy Lanford, Erika Smith, Lauryn Alyssa Smith, Phillip Winston McKay, Elyssa Michelle McCallum, Denise Marie Miller, Haley Beth Bynum. Second Row: Rebekah Anne VanLandingham, Amanda Jane Davenport, Tyronne S. Leonard Sr., David Michael Mestre III, Joshua Wayne Richards, Thomas A. Kinchen (President), Robin Jumper (Academic Dean), Eric Daniel Diaz, Joshua Case Wade, Katlin Renee Thompson, Hunter Alan Higgins, Jeremy Orona, Hailey Erin High. Third Row: Timothy Alan Lloyd, Asa Lamar Sellers, Cole Alexander Jackson, Raymond Scot Harper, Daniel Joseph Lloyd, Lonnie Lee Shipman.
GRACEVILLE–The year 2020 has been filled with uncertainties and challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This fall semester, The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) in Graceville joined with colleges and universities across the nation and made a way for students to be safe while they continued their educational journeys in-person, on campus.
Although the semester looked and felt different with everyone wearing masks, using hand sanitizer, and social distancing, graduating seniors were able to complete the work needed to earn their degrees. Despite the coronavirus, many activities resumed on campus including the Fall 2020 Graduation Ceremony, held Dec. 4.
Thirty-seven BCF graduates walked across the stage outside in the Grand Bobby Pavilion located in the historic Heritage Village on the BCF campus. Among them were several May 2020 graduates participating in the graduation service since their in-person commencement was held virtually in keeping with COVID-19 restrictions.
With their families sitting five to a group and spaced six feet apart, graduates proceeded down the middle sidewalk as Angela E. Glover, professor of piano, played “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Following the traditional processional, the invocation was given by Richard Elligson, Theology Division Chair and professor of missions. Offering the invocation was special this time for Elligson because his wife, Cheryl, was one of the graduates. Bill Davis, Music and Worship Division Chair, then led the congregation in the timeless hymn, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.”
BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen welcomed family members and graduates–making good on a promise to give this group of students the graduation ceremony they deserved. He recognized the newest BCF faculty member, Steven Winiarski , professor of New Testament and Greek, who signed the traditional “Articles of Faith” as has every faculty member signed before him. The audience’s attention was then turned towards Lisa Foltz, adjunct professor of music, as she sang the anthem, “Lord, Here Am I.”
Kinchen proceeded to address the graduates and those in attendance referencing Deuteronomy 8. He instructed graduates to forget forgiven sin, failure, and undue pride and success; and remember how God gave the children of Israel manna, protection, and provision.
“When you go into the land, become the link between someone who is lost and the gospel. Once you were lost without hope and now you’re members of heaven. You are that link between all that God has done and some lost soul,” he challenged.
After the confirmation by Registrar Stephanie Orr, Academic Dean Robin Jumper presented graduates to Kinchen for final approval. Once granted, 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 their hard work. The 2020 fall and spring graduating class included eight students who received associate degrees, 50 earning their bachelor’s degrees, and five master’s degree recipients. Graduates were then instructed to move their tassels from right to left, symbolizing the final official act of graduation.
Among the graduates, there were two engaged students, a BCF professor’s wife, a newlywed and an expectant mother, and two brothers. Four students received master of arts in music and worship leadership recipients.
After the thunderous applause for these graduates, the audience joined the faculty, staff, and new alumni in singing the BCF college hymn, “Tell Me the Story of Jesus.”
Following the benediction by Tonya Gardner, instructor of psychology, the recessional piece, “March,” was played as the graduates left with diplomas in hand, excited for the future. The entire ceremony was a celebration of the academic accomplishments of the new graduates as they embarked on “Changing the World Through the Unchanging Word®.”
For more information on The Baptist College of Florida, please call 800-328-2660 or visit the website at www.baptistcollege.edu.
The Baptist College of Florida December 2020 Graduating Class (Florida Residents)
Green Cove Springs
Associate of Arts in General Studies: A.A., GS
Bachelor of Arts in Business Leadership: B.A., BUS
Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies: B.A., CS
Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education: B.A., EE
Bachelor of Arts in English: B.A., ENG
Bachelor of Arts in History and Social Studies: B.A., HSS
Bachelor of Arts in Ministry Studies: B.A., MS
Bachelor of Arts in Missions: B.A., MI
Bachelor of Arts in Music: B.A., MU
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology: B.A., PSY
Bachelor of Music in Worship Leadership: B.M., WL
Master of Arts in Christian Studies: M.A., CS
Master of Arts in Music and Worship Leadership: M.A., MWL
**Magna Cum Laude
***Summa Cum Laude