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Trust in Christ essential for ministry, seminary graduates told

Dr. Stephen D. Lowe

Family and friends joined students, alumni, administrators and faculty members to honor some 50 graduates who received degrees from Erskine Theological Seminary May 12 at the Due West Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Dr. George W. Robertson, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Ga., delivered the commencement sermon.

Dr. David A. Norman, president of Erskine College and Theological Seminary, welcomed the guests and told the graduates, “You’ve grown dear to us and to each other.”

Board of Trustees Chairman Joe H. Patrick III brought greetings from the Board. “Let us be mindful of God’s sovereignty in bringing us together here,” he said. “May we seek and trust him from this day forward.”

Dr. Stephen D. Lowe, interim vice president of the seminary, introduced Robertson, who called his commencement sermon, based on Proverbs 3:1-8, “A Long Ministry in the Same Direction.”

Dr. George W. Robertson

“God is calling us to a long ministry in the same direction. My desire for you is that you finish well. I particularly want you to finish well in the ministry,” Robertson told the graduates.

“You and I are called to preach a single story of scripture,” he said. “Every sermon, every Bible study, must explain that one story of the gospel.”

Robertson said the gospel is one story with an infinite number of applications, a single story with a twofold structure—promise and deliverance. If preaching focuses only on promise, it veers into antinomianism; it if only spotlights deliverance, it moves toward Pelagianism.

It is essential to “rely on the ways of Christ,” Robertson said, urging graduates to “trust Him,” “know Him” and “fear Him.”

He explained trusting Christ using the Scottish term “lippen,” and describing such absolute trust as “falling on Him.”

“You are called to fail in front of your people,” he said. “Show them you have been commissioned to point your people to the Christ on whom they can ‘lippen’ and fall.”

Robertson advised the graduates, “‘Lippen’ to Him, every day, in every situation.”

The Rev. L. Calvin Draffin, pastor of the Due West ARP Church, gave the invocation, and the Rev. Robert P. Glick, associate professor of church music and worship, offered a prayer for the Class of 2012.

Dr. Robert W. Bell, academic dean, presented the student awards.

Interpretation Journal Award recipients were Nola Burnette Taylor, Michael Wayne Andrews, James Timothy Turner and Anya Camille Marsalek Leveille.

Philip Bunch, a 2009 graduate of Erskine College, receives his diploma from Dr. David Norman.  

The Chalice Press Book Award was given to Philip Stanley Bunch.

The Zondervan Publishing House Awards in Biblical Greek went to Jeffrey Alan Dean (Due West Campus) and Christopher Wolfgang Wilson (Columbia Campus).

The Zondervan Publishing House Awards in Biblical Hebrew went to Scott Alexander Frazier (Due West Campus) and Scot Eric Hultstrand (Columbia Campus).

The Douglas Joel Culver Award in Hebrew was given to Brooks Dupler Willet.

The Ray A. King Award for Excellence in Church History went to William Spencer Cain.

The Bruce G. Pierce Award for Christian Leadership was given to Jamey Alexander Dagenhart.

Outgoing Student Body Association officers recognized were: Brett James Blackman, president; Julia Annette Hobert, vice president; Allyson Marie Bassett, secretary; David Samuel Hubbs, treasurer; and John Brooks Pipher, representative for the Columbia Campus.

Norman conferred the degrees on the candidates, who were presented by Lowe, and Erskine College and Seminary Alumni Association President Nan Campbell inducted the Class of 2012 into the organization. Senior Class Representative Julia Annette Hobert gave the student response.

Amy Quarles Fennell 

Glick played the organ, David Hubbs played the trumpet, and choir members from First Presbyterian Church, Greenwood, where Glick serves as organist, also participated in the service, led by Amy Quarles Fennell, a 1998 graduate of Erskine College and director of music ministries.

Glick was recognized and presented with a retirement gift during the service.

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Degrees awarded included the following:

Master of Arts in Practical Ministry: Deborah Wharton Chiles, Abbeville; Steven Christopher Gilchrist, Dillon; Julie Annette Hobert, Saint-Vallier, France; Maxine R. Sumpter, Irmo; Nola B. Taylor, Honea Path

Master of Arts in Educational Ministries: Allyson Marie Bassett, Gastonia, N.C.; James Nathaniel Cuttino Jr., Silverstreet; Alexandra Leigh Sanford, Louisville Ga.

Master of Arts in Theological Studies: John R. Barrett, Augusta, Ga.; Randall H. Perrenoud, Inman

Master of Divinity: Richard Galevo Addo, Roanoke, Va.; Michael Wayne Andrews, Greer; Philip Stanley Bunch Jr., Kings Mountain, N.C.; James Nathaniel Cuttino Jr., Silverstreet; Jamey Alexander Dagenhart, Rock Hill; Asher Salmon Din, Greenwood; Timothy Wayne Evatt, Pendleton; Donna Elaine Green, Charleston; Sungjune Kim, Busan, Korea; Richard Alan Kirby, Walhalla; Melissa Ann Krabbe, Seneca; Melissa S. Long, Charleston; Anya Camille Marsalek Leveille, Charleston; Deborah Demorest Patterson, Hendersonville, N.C.; Edward Rhodes Pennebaker, Greenville; David Jeffrey Roper, Liberty; Brian Keith Scott, Woodruff; Mary Cameron Smith, Charleston; Patricia Brunson Smith, Ridge Spring; Thomas Franklin Spear Jr., Pendleton; Michael Kenneth Todod, Gastonia, N.C.; Jonathan David Ward, Manchester Center, Vt.; Sandra Kay White Wardlaw, Columbia; LaSheila Mack Wyatt, Hartsville

Master of Theology: Jeremy Steven Carr, Augusta, Ga.; Christian Dean Finnigan, Mt. Vernon, Va.; Robert Glenn Rhyne III, Irmo; James Timothy Turner Jr., Anderson

Doctor of Ministry: B. Dean Akers Jr., Conway; Christian Jun Bang, Glendale, Ariz.; Stacey Michael Cox, Greenville; Nita M. Crump, Elberton, Ga.; Stanislaw Jasiurkowski, Philadelphia, Pa.; Matthew Allen Merrill, Arlington, Va.; David William Peters, Elizabethtown, Ky.; Ibraheen Abdur Raheem, Kansas City, Mo.; Walter Lee Taylor, Southport, N.C.

Erskine and Due West Skyline

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