Erskine College and Theological Seminary honored graduating students May 20 during a joint ceremony featuring as speaker the Rev. Eric Manning, pastor of historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Manning, an alumnus of Erskine Theological Seminary, offered a strong endorsement of the power of love over hate in a commencement speech entitled “Love Will Carry You.”
Manning referred to the love shown by members of Emanuel AME Church in the aftermath of the June 2015 shooting in which Pastor Clementa Pinckney and eight parishioners lost their lives.
“I have witnessed God’s love each and every day of my life, but I never saw it displayed as the families displayed it after the horrific act of June 17, 2015, when the ‘Emanuel Nine’ families and the survivors came to that place and began to say, one after another, ‘We forgive you, we’re praying for you.’”
Citing the witness of Chris Singleton, whose mother was killed in the Emanuel AME shooting, Manning recalled the bereaved son’s words, “You know, pastor, love is always stronger than hate.”
Stressing that love must not merely be spoken about, but demonstrated, Manning said that in his congregation, “Those families continue to pray, continue to show love.”
Highlighting two of the Apostle Paul’s assertions in the 13th chapter of I Corinthians, Manning noted that “love is patient,” which means “it endures many things,” and “love never fails,” which means that “it endures forever.”
We all have to be reminded to be patient, Manning said, as we await the working of God, which is manifested “in His time and in His manner.” Since “love never fails,” we must prefer love to other gifts, which pass away.
As graduates move into the larger world, “from student to service,” as Manning described it at the beginning of his address, they will enter an arena of negative rhetoric. He encouraged them to “seek peace, not conflict, truth, not falsehood, love, not hate.”
Manning told the graduates what he knows from his own experience. “The love of God will carry you through your darkest night, your deepest valley, and your longest storm.”
Interim President Dr. Robert E. Gustafson, Jr. welcomed family members and guests gathered under the towers of the Erskine Building, and Chairman Samuel S. James, a member of the Erskine College Class of 2007, brought greetings from the Erskine Board of Trustees. James alluded to difficulties he and his wife confronted early in their marriage—car accidents, job loss, and serious health problems. “Walking through the Christian life does not exempt us from trouble and pain,” he said. “Do not let it steal your joy.”
The commencement speaker was introduced by the college senior with the highest grade point average, summa cum laude graduate Michael William Byrd of Charleston, S.C., who completed a major in chemistry and a minor in biology and served as president of the Student Government Association.
College awards announced during the commencement exercises by Provost of the College Dr. John Basie included the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Excellence in Teaching Award, given to Associate Professor of Chemistry and Physics Dr. Tiffany Hayden; the Younts Excellence in Teaching Award, which went to Professor of Chemistry Dr. Joel Boyd; the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, given to Michael Byrd of Charleston, S.C.; the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award, given to Kristen Marie Craft of Anderson, S.C., a magna cum laude graduate who majored in psychology with departmental honors and minored in family studies; and the H.M. Young Ring, the highest honor for a member of the senior class, given to Autumn Grace Horne of Ware Shoals, S.C., a summa cum laude graduate double majoring in psychology and English, with departmental honors, and minors in biology and chemistry, with departmental honors.
Seminary awards announced by Provost of the Seminary Dr. R. Leslie Holmes included the Zondervan Publishing House Awards in Hebrew and Greek, given to Andrew Di Iulio; the Douglas Joel Culver Award in Hebrew, given to Seth Skogen; the Ray A. King Church History Award, given to Seth Skogen; and the Bruce G. Pierce Award for Christian Leadership, given to Andrew Di Iulio. Holmes also made a special presentation from the seminary faculty and staff to Doctor of Ministry graduate Chaplain (Col.) Jeffrey D. Hawkins for “outstanding academic achievement.”
Serving as faculty marshals were Dr. Howard Thomas, crucifer, and Dr. Loyd Melton, mace bearer. The Rev. Paul Patrick, chaplain, offered the invocation and benediction.
Herb Jordan, president-elect of the Alumni Association, inducted the graduates into the association.
Kaitlyn Kerley of North Charleston, S.C., president of the Erskine College Class of 2017, thanked Jordan on behalf of the class and announced the class gift, a bench to be placed near Belk Hall, with an inscription “May you always see the beauty that surrounds you.”
Andrew Di Iulio, senior class representative of the Erskine Seminary Class of 2017, thanked Jordan and also paid tribute to a friend and classmate, the late Eric Scott Wenger.
The Erskine College Choraleers, directed by Dr. Keith Timms, and accompanied by Prof. Tobi Otekayi; Erskine College Sinfonia, conducted by Dr. David Conley, and graduating senior Taylor Hedger, alto saxophone, provided music for the ceremony. Senior Cali Colbert led the singing of the Alma Mater.
A baccalaureate service in the Due West Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church Friday evening preceded Saturday’s commencement, with the Rev. Corey Pelton, senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA), Greenville, S.C., delivering the baccalaureate address, “Counting the Cost.” Musicians for the service included Professor of Music Dr. Brooks Kuykendall, organist; and the Erskine Choraleers, conducted by Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Keith Timms and accompanied by Prof. Tobi Otekayi, pianist.
Erskine College graduates were:
Bachelor of Arts
Graduates, Jan. 26, 2017: Megan J. McKinley, Bluffton, S.C.; Benjamin Seth Powell, summa cum laude, Laurens, S.C.
Graduates, May 20, 2017: Jeyana LaGrace Ashmore, Pendleton, S.C.; Ashton Brice Burgess, Greenwood, S.C.; Amy Elizabeth Burton, summa cum laude, Ware Shoals, S.C.; Charlotte Calista Colbert, Charlotte, N.C.; Kristen Marie Craft, magna cum laude, Anderson, S.C.; Kaitlin Lourdes Craton, Pelzer, S.C.; James Kevin Dobbins, Greenville, S.C.; Kayla Dorniece Frazier, Charleston, S.C.; Seth Dakota Gurley, magna cum laude, Anderson, S.C.; Taylor Christine Hedger, Travelers Rest, S.C.; Autumn Grace Horne, summa cum laude, Ware Shoals, S.C.; Jordan Blade Joseph, Atlanta, Ga.; Raquel Ariana Komen, Edwards, Calif.; Blake Elizabeth Little, magna cum laude, Winnsboro, S.C.; Quaporsha Shanice Mason, Greenwood, S.C.; Kasey Elizabeth McNair, magna cum laude, Abbeville, S.C.; Katie Marie Parler, West Columbia, S.C.; Corrine Elizabeth Piner, Iva, S.C.; Cameron Powell Whitehurst, Chapin, S.C.; Allison Louise Wilber, Irmo, S.C.
Candidates, Aug. 15, 2017: Dwight D. Bozeman, Due West, S.C.; Kristin Louise Irby, Winnsboro, S.C.
Bachelor of Science
Graduates, Jan. 26, 2017: Abigail Rae Butler, Summerville, S.C.; Katherine Lauren Coleman, Martinez, Ga.; Kortney Rashel Hauck, Statesville, N.C.; Joseph Charles O’Neill, Lichfield, England; Carlos Enrique Unda-Galvan, Hendersonville, N.C
Graduates, May 20, 2017: Braden Elliott Anderson, cum laude, Kathleen, Ga.; Jordan Monroe Ball, magna cum laude, Hopewell, Va.; Macarena Basagoiti, summa cum laude, Madrid, Spain; Mikaela Rose Jacqueline Bennett, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Reese O’Neal Blankenship, Branchville, S.C.; Heather Nicole Bloemsma, Sebring, Fla.; Lori Morgan Bratcher, Belton, S.C.; Zachary Mark Bridgeman, Greer, S.C.; Aaron Michael Brown, summa cum laude, Charleston, S.C.; Taylor Talisia Bush, Hilton Head, S.C.; Michael William Byrd, summa cum laude, Charleston, S.C.; Norma Angela DeLuna, Anderson, S.C.; Colby DuBose DeVane, St. Augustine, Fla.; Kristen Marie Dodge, Duncan, S.C.; Adam Patrick Donohoe, Statesville, N.C. Tiancheng Eric Edwards, Inman, S.C.; Marnasha Annette Eugene, Lithonia, Ga.; Candace Elaine Fitch, Cherryville, N.C.; Paul George Fitzgerald, Charlotte, N.C.; Chance Lee Fortenberry, summa cum laude, Hartsville, S.C.; Mark Daniel Fralix II, St. George, S.C.; Logan McDowell Gibbons, Chester, S.C.; Kristin LaShonda Giles, Union, S.C.; Justin Dakota Glover, Greenville, S.C.; Joby Allen Glymph, Columbia, S.C.; Mark Daniel Gonzalez, Blythewood, S.C.; Marissa Rose Greenough, Laguna Beach, Calif.; Vincent Adrian Harris, cum laude, Vero Beach, Fla.; Samantha Kate Harting, Laguna Beach, Calif.; Stephen Allan Henderson, cum laude, Simpsonville, S.C.; Raygon Carolyn Hendrix, Summerville, S.C.; Jacqueline Ann Hill, North Augusta, S.C.; Arielle Denise Houston, summa cum laude, North Augusta, S.C.; Kirsten Hanna Jeanes, Belton, S.C.; Lucy Ellen Jeffs, Hampshire, England; Victoria Kate Johnston, Hilton Head Island, S.C.; Kaitlyn Ashley Kerley, North Charleston, S.C.; Kendall Renee Kirk, Lexington, S.C.; Stuart Ryan Latimer, Chelmsford, England; Marley Jayne Llinas, Annapolis, Md.; Jonathan Tanner Lollis, Williamston, S.C.; Marissa Alexandria Mayfield, cum laude, Durham, N.C.; Ross Andrew McEwan, Dumbarton, Scotland; Sade Taheesha Mendez, Gardena, Calif.; Sarah Pressly Montoya, summa cum laude, Summerville, S.C.; Ashley Nicole Mull, summa cum laude, Belmont, N.C.; Timothy John Nabholz, cum laude, Clinton, Miss.; Destin Edward Nichols, Tampa, Fla.; Eduardo Ocampo-Estrada, Greenwood, S.C.; Laura Elizabeth Parker, Anderson, S.C.; Hannah Renee Phillips, Inman, S.C.; Alexander S. Preston, magna cum laude, Greer, S.C.; Matthew Thomas Preston, cum laude, Greer, S.C.; Kristopher Chase Pridgen, Greenwood, S.C.; Danielle McKensie Reynolds, Grovetown, Ga.; Alanna Dolorese Richmond, cum laude, Clover, S.C.; Anna Raquel Robison, Charleston, S.C.; Angela Paige Schoonover, Manning, S.C.; William Edward Schuler, Spartanburg, S.C.; Matthew David Simmons, Honea Path, S.C.; Delaney Catherine Smith, Simpsonville, S.C.; Paul Michael Smith, Seneca, S.C.; Katherine Brooke Snelling, Greenwood, S.C.; Clarissa Reneé Stiving, Charleston, S.C.; Amanda Lynn Strickland, Piedmont, S.C.; Ashley Renee Strickland, Piedmont, S.C.; Naomi M. Stuger, Marietta, Ga.; Andrés José Talavera, Bayamon, Puerto Rico; David Joseph Tilton, Beaufort, S.C.; Harrison Alexander Timms, Belton, S.C.; Lydia Kathryn Trexler, Lexington, S.C.; Jacob Wade Turner, magna cum laude, Starr, S.C.; Kyle A. van Hoff, Taylors, S.C.; Alexandra Lynne Vinson, Hilton Head Island, S.C.; Reid Avery Windmiller, summa cum laude, Sautee Nacoochee, Ga.; Joshua Daniel Wright, Simpsonville, S.C.; Rachel Lynn Zehr, Hendersonville, S.C.
Candidates, Aug. 15, 2017: André Miguel André, Setúbal, Portugal; Martin Arias, Valladolid, Spain; Sarah Elizabeth Curtman, Columbia, S.C.; Veljko Lukic, Belgrade, Serbia; Whitney Denae Lyerly, Due West, S.C.; Rodney Jerome O’Neal, Dublin, Ga.; Mollie Ann Polk, Round O, S.C.
Erskine Theological Seminary graduates were:
Master of Arts in Practical Ministry
Graduates, Jan. 1, 2017: Willie Wallace Clark, Columbia, S.C.; Jemal Cobb, Holly Hill, S.C.
Graduate, May 20, 2017: Quincy Antione Baker, Abbeville, S.C.
Candidates, Sept. 1, 2017: Jeffrey Alan Bryant, Greenwood, S.C.; Joseph Henry Hood, Sr., Charleston, S.C.; Nathalee Magwood-Nelson, Charleston, S.C.
Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Graduate, Jan. 1, 2017: Glendia Raenette Leverett, Augusta, Ga.
Master of Divinity
Graduates, Jan. 1, 2017: Matthew Dallas Adams, Dillon, S.C.; Kenneth M. Charles, Sumter, S.C.; William Gregory Daniels, Pamplico, S.C.
Graduates, May 20, 2017: Camille Carpenter, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Andrew John Di Iulio, Greenville, S.C.; Frederick Howell Hope, Aiken, S.C.; Kenneth Collins Maple, Pickens, S.C.; Chaunté LaToye McClure, Columbia, S.C.; Shiril Weaver-Graves, Gresham, S.C.
Candidates, Sept. 1, 2017: Joshua Caleb Chiles, Abbeville, S.C.; Gervis Bernard Davis, Newberry, S.C.; George E. Hicks, Orangeburg, S.C.; Samuel D. Johnson, Sr., Charleston, S.C.; Mary J. Paul, Abbeville, S.C.; Pamela Javette Queeman, Summerville, S.C.
Master of Theology
Graduate, May 20, 2017: Glenn Edward Dire, Conyers, Ga.
Doctor of Ministry
Graduates, Jan. 1, 2017: Luis Nestor Anda, Paxton, Ill.; Thurmond Bowens, Jr., Irmo, S.C.; James Paul Ward, Jr., Greensboro, N.C.
Graduates, May 20, 2017: Brad Allyn Anderson, Columbia, S.C.; Henry S. Baptiste, New Orleans, La.; Laura Louise Canine, Pawleys Island, S.C.; Daniel George DeBlock, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Stephanie Handy, Holbrook, Md.; Kenneth Duane Harris, Llano, Texas; Jeffrey D. Hawkins, Monticello, Ill.; Myra DeLesline Meggett, Charleston, S.C.
Candidates, Sept. 1, 2017: Richard Baldwin Brown, Roanoke, Va.; Jae June Kim, Maryville, Tenn.; Darren Richard Schwartz, Kalispell, Mont.