Well, Friday evening (May 18th) I officially graduated from Multnomah Biblical Seminary. I finished with a 3.56 GPA. I was also a member of the school's 75th anniversary graduating class (they gave us all medallions to wear with our regalia). Our ceremony was held at Rolling Hills Community Church - a mega-church a lot closer to Sherwood than campus, which was nice for us. We had rehearsal the day before in order to figure out where to line up, where to sit, the order of events, etc. Usual graduation stuff. The ceremony was for all graduating students of Multnomah University, not just Master of Divinity students, so there were people getting their BA, BS, Master in Counseling, Master in Teaching, Master in TESOL, Master in Pastoral Studies, Master in Biblical Studies, and Master in Divinity. All told I'd guess there were about 150 graduating students. Only about 20 of us were MDIV-ers. But the auditorium was packed! It sat 2500 people, yet Kathy said it was very hard to find a seat. A lot of friends and family must have come celebrate. Wes and Jessi came to the ceremony, but sadly, my parents who were planning on being in town for my graduation are instead still back in a Virginia hospital. My mom is having heart problems again, and the doctors couldn't get them cleared up fast enough for my folks to make the trip out here. We're all really bummed that things fell through for them, but glad to hear that my Mom is (slowly) on the up and up. We're all praying for you, Mom!
Our guest speaker at my graduation ceremony was Luis Palau, who is a Multnomah Alum from 51 years ago and now sits on the school's Board of Trustees. Luis is also the creator of the Luis Palau Association, which a worldwide evangelism organization. I guess he's kind of a big deal in evangelical circles. Anyhow, his talk was quite entertaining - he has a great sense of humor and an amazing passion for Jesus Christ and evangelism. So his talk helped pass the time (the entire ceremony took about 90 minutes). As has been the case for all graduation ceremonies I've participated in, I was dead last to cross the stage and receive my diploma, so whatever helped pass the time was appreciated!
Speaking of past graduations, I skipped my undergrad ceremony a couple years back because I was still on active duty in Hawaii...and the school I graduated from is in New Jersey! So Friday's graduation was the first I'd participated in since High School way back in 1999. What this meant was I was totally out of touch with all the pomp and circumstance associated with graduating! I had no idea what the Baccalaureate was, what to wear under my gown/robe/PJs, when to "flip my tassel", when to "get hooded", etc. Apparently some people take these things very seriously, so I had to be careful throughout rehearsal and then the graduation ceremony not to faux pas! I ended up wearing my red tassel on my left because I'm a college graduate, and carrying my red, green, and gold hood draped over my left arm, velvet edge out, because as I crossed the stage to receive my diploma, I was stopped and "hooded" by the dean of the seminary. I was NOT to wear my hood prior to that! And yes, all those colors have specific meaning to my degree and school.
After my graduation ceremony we retired back to our place with Wes and Jessi (it was after 10pm at this point!). Kathy made an awesome banana pudding and we all chatted until about 1:30am.
While I'm still on the topic of my graduation, I should take this opportunity to say one last thing: While I enjoyed my ceremony, I didn't really care much about going through with it. I’d really have been fine with just skipping it, as I did my undergrad. I'm definitely happy to have received my degree, but remember that receiving my degree was never my goal. My M-DIV has always been just a means to an end - to get back into the Navy as a Chaplain. In fact, even now with my degree, if I don't get back into the Navy, I will probably consider my plan foiled! I've had so many people congratulate me or ask me how I'm feeling now that I'm done with seminary, and I really appreciate it all. Everyone has been so kind! But I'm not celebrating yet. Success for me will come in about two weeks when I hear the results of the Navy CARE Board. Even on my last day of class I wasn’t focusing on completing my degree, but getting my final transcripts for my Navy package completed! Kathy rightly points out that we don't know what God will use with my degree in the future, regardless if the Navy works out or not. So perhaps my degree will come in handy someday and I should celebrate it! I acknowledge that. But for now, we're looking forward to REALLY celebrating when I am accepted into the Navy. That is when I'll have accomplished what I set out to do when I started seminary.
We are SO blessed to have made it through my masters program in one piece. Our lives are nothing like they were when we moved here and started four years ago. We have been shaped for the better not only by my education, but also by our ministry at Agape and Sherwood Community Church, our new friends we've made here in Portland, and our loving and supporting family all over country. God has truly done some amazing things in our lives to prepare us for what He has in store for us in the future. So now on to the Navy!