|FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary commissioned a new class of graduates, including two of its own professors, by awarding degrees to 197 students Dec. 14 -- 13 undergraduate degrees, 156 master's degrees and 32 doctoral degrees.
Terri Stovall, dean of women's programs and associate professor of women's ministries, walked across the stage to receive her master of divinity degree.
Already having earned her Ph.D. and master of arts in Christian education from Southwestern more than a decade ago, Stovall completed work in the M.Div. program to enhance her work in training women for service in local churches, ministries and mission fields around the world.
Don Wyrtzen, professor of church music, received his doctor of ministry in the school of theology. Wyrtzen, whose father founded Word of Life International, serves as chapel pianist at the seminary in addition to his teaching duties. He is a Dove Award-winning musician known worldwide for his 400-plus musical compositions and arrangements.
Another highlight of the commencement included the conferral of 32 doctoral degrees, which SWBTS President Paige Patterson said were the most he has ever personally witnessed during a graduation ceremony. The degrees not only represented Southwestern's ongoing contribution to biblical scholarship but also the growing impact of Southwestern around the world.
Yaroslav Pyzh, president of Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary, earned his Ph.D. in systematic theology, with a dissertation on Baptists in the Soviet Union. Additionally, Ralf Schowalter, a pastor in Rhaunen, Germany, earned his Ph.D. in Baptist and free church studies for his work on the German Anabaptist Hans Denck.
Patterson, preaching from Luke 1:5-25, challenged the graduates to submit themselves to the Lord as they go out into ministry. Pointing to Zechariah's encounter with the angel Gabriel, Patterson said people knew he had heard from God.
"Young people, do you know your will know when you've been with God and when you haven't?" Patterson asked the graduates. "They will know whether or not you're just a professional carrying out your assignment or whether or not you have been with God."
Patterson also emphasized the primary importance of the Lord's activity in a person's ministry, referring to Luke 1:66 where it was said of John the Baptist that "the hand of the Lord was upon him." Continued...