In spite of the inclement weather, December 8, was an exciting day for graduating seniors at The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) in Graceville. They joined their family, friends, faculty, and staff in the BCF Wellness Center to celebrate years of hard work and intense study fulfilling all of the requirements for their college degree.
The forty-six graduating seniors preceded down the center aisle with great excitement as the BCF College Winds played “Pomp and Circumstance” under the direction of Professor Ron Branning. Following the traditional processional, BCF Trustee Dianne Lovett humbly articulated the invocation asking the Lord’s blessings on the occasion and everyone attending. After the hymn favorite “How Great Thou Art” led by BCF Music and Worship Division Chair Bill Davis, President Thomas A. Kinchen provided a warm welcome and expressed his deepest gratitude for the tremendous support offered to the graduating class.
Kinchen turned the audience’s attention briefly to an amazing woman joining him on the platform sharing a list of her many accomplishments over the years. A dear friend, a trustee of The Baptist College of Florida, and a strong woman of tremendous faith, distinction, and devotion, Ms. Fran Stewart Carlton. One of the highest honors a college can bestow upon an individual is the honorary doctorate and in recognition of her many years of devoted service, Kinchen presented the Honorary Doctorate of Christian Letters to Carlton with all of the rights, privilege and responsibilities that come with the high honor.
Following the powerful rendition of “Order My Steps” by the BCF Women’s Ensemble under the direction of Professor Buford Cox, Kinchen addressed the graduates, sharing personal experiences and referring to scripture in Psalm 121. Kinchen explained, “We live in a world characterized by fear,” and encouraged the graduates to lift their eyes from the obstacles causing them to fear and look to Christ.
After confirmation by the registrar and affirmation of the faculty came the presentation of the graduating class by BCF Academic Dean Robin Jumper. Final approval was then granted by Kinchen as seniors eagerly walk across the stage and accepted their diplomas. Family and friends cheered as the new college graduates received their hard-earned credentials. The 2017 fall graduating class included one student who received her associate degree, another earning an associate of divinity, forty-one earning their bachelor’s degrees, two masters degree recipients, and one doctorate in Christian letters, making it an eventful day of celebration for the entire class. Graduates were then instructed to move their tassels from right to left, symbolizing the final official act of graduation.
After an enthusiastic round of applause for the new graduates, the audience joined the faculty, staff, and graduates in singing the BCF college hymn, “Tell Me the Story of Jesus” followed by the benediction given by BCF trustee and newly hooded, Dr. Fran Carlton.
Graduates exited the building with great anticipation for the future, complete with their diplomas, and began to take pictures with their family, friends, and professors. It was a particularly exciting day for the Smith family, as brothers Caleb and Zachary graduated side by side. Many of the graduates of The Baptist College of Florida will continue their education or begin working and serving in their degree fields. One thing is certain, BCF graduates are trained, equipped and prepared to set the example as the next generation of Christian leaders as they are “Changing the World Through the Unchanging Word.®”
For more information on the next graduation or to learn more about the degrees offered at The Baptist College of Florida, please call 850-263-3261 or visit the website at www.baptistcollege.edu.