GRACEVILLE– The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) held its Fall 2019 Commencement Ceremony for 44 graduates Dec. 6 at its Graceville campus.
The college was booming with excitement as the BCF Wellness Center was filled with family, friends, faculty and staff. Family and friends 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.
This year’s graduation class brought back many memories for several of the graduates’ families.
Two graduating seniors, Savannah Orr and Abigail Wiggins Butler, were born in Graceville while their parents attended the college.
Mike Orr, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Chipley, and his wife, Stephanie, arrived at BCF in 1995 and Savannah was born in 1998; Mike earned his undergraduate degree from BCF in 1999; his graduate degree in 2012, and Stephanie, who serves as BCF registrar, earned her bachelor’s degree in 2012.
Andy and Kelly Wiggins arrived on campus as students in 1995, welcoming Abigail in 1997. Andy, minister to students at First Baptist Church, Union City, Tenn., earned his undergraduate degree in 2002. Kelly will graduate in May 2020. Abigail’s brother Zack Wiggins is a December 2016 graduate. Her sister, Joanna Wiggins Butler, will graduate next year, while her husband Matthew Butler graduated this past fall.
Many with tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces, the 44 graduating seniors entered to the sounds of BCF College Winds playing “Pomp and Circumstance” under the direction of Professor Ron Branning. Following the traditional processional, the invocation was given by proud father Mike Orr.
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 recognized one graduate who had been working on his degree faithfully. Graduating senior Constance Bell, 70, was born in 1949, drives a school bus with the Dothan City Schools, and is 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 “A Jubilant Song,” under the leadership of Professor Buford Cox.
Kinchen 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,” said 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 graduates earning their bachelor’s degrees, and two master’s degree recipients.
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, the college president 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 college. “A president could not have a better friend, a stronger supporter, a better colleague or a man with more character than Charles Parker,” said 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®.”
Associate of Arts in Divinity; A.A., DIV
Associate of Arts in General Studies; A.A., GS
Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies; B.A., BS
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 Ministry; B.A., MIN
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
Master of Arts in Music and Worship Leadership; M.A., MWL
**Magna Cum Laude
***Summa Cum Laude
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.