The Perkins festivities began with A Celebration of Degrees and Academic Achievements on Friday afternoon, May 14, at Moody Coliseum. (In past years, the service took place at HPUMC’s sanctuary, but was relocated this year to allow for social distancing.) On Saturday morning, Perkins community members joined the University-wide Commencement in Ford Stadium.
A Celebration of Degrees and Academic Achievements
The Rev. Dr. Hugo Magallanes, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, welcomed attendees and offered words of invocation: “Today, as the graduates complete their journey, we want to pause for a moment and give thanks for each of them. Thank you for their resilience. We know that your grace will sustain them wherever they will go.”
Craig C. Hill, Dean of Perkins School of Theology, offered words of thanks and congratulations to four faculty and staff who retired in May: Evelyn Parker, Duane Harbin, Isabel Docampo and Billy Abraham. The Seminary Singers, directed by Marcell Silva Steuernagel and accompanied by Christopher Anderson, presented a choral anthem, “We Come Unto Our Savior God.”
The sermon was presented by the Rev. Dr. George Mason, senior pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas. He opened with the story of an ordination candidate who, when asked about the reason for pursuing ordination, responded: “I want to accept the responsibility for the church of bearing the Word in my generation.”
Mason said he wanted his sermon to explore “what the Word is that you will bear and what the bearing of it might entail.”
Life in ministry “is a good life, just not an easy life,” he said. “If you need to be loved and praised continually, I wouldn’t recommend ministry. It’s hard out here for a preacher.” The job, he added, entails anguish as well as joy.
“Don’t give in to those who tell you that your job is just to teach or to preach the word, by which they mean the Bible,” he said. “Part of your calling from here on is to help people hear the Word in the words. The story in the stories. The spirit that gives life rather than the letter that kills.”
The church has a checkered history in that area, he added.
“The church has used the Bible to proclaim all manner of wickedness in the name of God and our Christian faith,” he said. “We are not called to teach the Bible per se. We are called to teach and preach the Gospel from the Bible.
“Christ Crucified is our proper subject, friends. It is shorthand for the Gospel, the logic of love that vibrates in every fiber of creation and pulses with the life that really is life. It is the only Word worth bearing, my dear new colleagues, so bear it well.”
Dean Hill presented awards recognizing outstanding graduating and current students. See the awards and the recipients here.
Joseph Monroy, Registrar and Director of Academic Services, read the names as each graduate came to the dais to receive his or her diploma, concluding, “Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the 2021 Graduating Class.”
The service concluded with a benediction offered by Dean Hill and closed with a recessional. Watch a video of the service here.
See the program for the Celebration here.
On Saturday morning, May 15, Perkins graduates participated in the University-wide Commencement ceremony, held at Ford Stadium. Shandon Klein, the graduating student with the highest level of academic achievement, was standard bearer for the graduating class of Perkins School of Theology.
Attendees were welcomed by Provost Elizabeth Loboa. President R. Gerald Turner thanked the grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters and in-laws of graduates in attendance, and noted that the graduating class of 2021 has faced more challenges than any other during his tenure, including the COVID-19 pandemic, national focus on social justice issues, the January 6 assault on the Capitol, and the Great Freeze of February 2021. SMU Chaplain Lisa Garvin offered the invocation.
The keynote presentation was delivered by SMU alumna Whitney Wolfe Herd, co-founder of Tinder, founder of the dating app Bumble, and the youngest female CEO to take a company public. Bumble took a unique approach; in contrast to other dating apps, women make the first move.
“The idea was for women to be brave, and to send the first message,” she said. “And they did.” The app has tallied than 100 million downloads.
Herd encouraged graduates: “Don’t follow anyone else’s act. Be your own act.” She shared lessons learned along the way: Believe in yourself. Don’t let fear hold you back. Be kind. Make the first move.
Herd concluded with the words from a children’s book that she reads to her own child – adding that the advice applies to people of any age: “Wherever you go, whatever you do, be bold and dream big. The world is waiting for you.”
Watch a video of the SMU commencement ceremonies here.