If graduates do this, the seminary's president said, the trials and pain of ministry will be small compared to the victories they will see throughout people's lives. He reminded the graduates that, in ministry, they will stand alongside people amid all of life's changes.
"You will be there at every critical juncture of life," Patterson said. "You are there -- the man, the woman of God -- to bring the message of God that the world so desperately needs to hear."
Southwestern awarded 206 graduates with diplomas, including 22 bachelor's degrees and 170 master's degrees during the commencement at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus. Additionally, 14 students received professional and research doctoral degrees.
"I feel the seminary has changed me, made me better equipped for future ministry, even more than I realized I needed when I first arrived on campus four years ago," said Sarah Bubar, who received her master of divinity with a concentration in women's studies and will become dean of women at Word of Life Bible Institute in Hudson, Fla.
"I know that Southwestern has prepared me for this ministry, and I couldn't be more excited about this opportunity to serve," Bubar said, noting that her studies have "pushed me academically, challenged me spiritually, and guided me vocationally. And I was able to make the best friends in the process of it all."
While working on her degree, Bubar helped create UnlockingFeminity.com, which she called an "online resource for women." On the website, Bubar and other women's ministry students write about gender issues and about how, as she put it, women "are to relate to God, each other, and the world around us."
Trey Thames, who received a master of divinity from Southwestern in 1999, was awarded his master of arts in archaeology and biblical studies.
"My studies have equipped me to understand the archaeological data and how to communicate its significance to brothers and sisters in Christ sitting in the pew," Thames said. "I have learned that faith and scholarship, especially in an area of scientific inquiry like archaeology, are not mutually exclusive. The Bible ... does not have to be pitted against the archaeological record, nor theologians against archaeologists."
With degrees in both ministry and archaeology, Thames hopes to serve the church while also teaching and working in the field of biblical archaeology. He already has begun coursework for a Ph.D. in archaeology and biblical studies at Southwestern. In 2008 and 2011, Thames participated in Southwestern's excavations in Tel Gezer, Israel, and he will work at the seminary's excavation in Kourion, Cyprus, this summer.
Additionally, Thames has taken the lead role in constructing www.seethescrolls.com, an interactive, educational dig website in conjunction with Southwestern's Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible exhibition which begins this July. Elementary, junior high and high school students as well as adults can simulate how archaeologists uncover the past through this interactive replica of Qumran, the ancient site inhabited by the Jewish sect that likely preserved the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Since Southwestern's founding in 1908, more than 42,000 graduates have been trained and challenged to proclaim God's Word in local churches and around the world.
Benjamin Hawkins is senior newswriter for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (www.swbts.edu/campusnews).
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net