Midwestern also honored its longtime librarian, Craig Kubic, for his service to multiple generations of students, faculty and staff. Kubic will depart in August to become dean of libraries at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
Todd R. Chipman became the doctor of philosophy program's first graduate, receiving a Ph.D. in biblical studies with an emphasis in New Testament. Chipman was one of six students to enroll in the program's second Ph.D. class in 2009.
"Institutionally, we are proud to award our first Ph.D. degree, and we look forward to awarding many more in the years ahead," Midwestern Seminary President Jason Allen said. "The growth of our Ph.D. program, especially in recent months, is a source of institutional joy and accomplishment."
Midwestern Seminary launched the Ph.D. in 2008 with emphases in Old and New Testament. The first class saw five students enrolled, and currently there are more than 50 students in the program. In April, the Ph.D. program expanded, with trustees approving new emphases in biblical preaching, biblical ethics, biblical theology, biblical missiology and biblical ministry.
Kubic, who has worked in his current position since 1988, received a standing ovation from the overflow audience in Daniel Lee Chapel as Allen praised his service.
"Our entire seminary community expresses its deepest appreciation for Dr. Craig Kubic who, for the past 26 years, has demonstrated his great love for the Lord Jesus Christ through his dedicated service as library director and as an educator here," Allen said at the May 10 commencement. "By fully implementing the gifts God has given him, Dr. Kubic faithfully carried out Midwestern Seminary's mission of educating God-called men and women to be and make disciples of Jesus Christ for multiple generations.
"We honor and thank you," Allen said, "for pouring your life into the lives of so many students, faculty and staff members. You have truly exalted the name of Jesus Christ as a result of your tireless efforts over these many years."
Allen preached from John 3, titling his message "You Must Be Born Again." Focusing on the story of Jesus and Nicodemus, Allen reminded students of their central calling.
"Those that are called to ministry, and those especially before me this morning, are called first and foremost to be ministers of the Gospel," he said, telling graduates to be Gospel servants who strengthen the church and win many to faith in Jesus.
"If there is one message that this generation needs to hear preached again and again and again, it is this: you must be born again," Allen said.
Jesus emphasized that the new birth is not something done by man, but is solely dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit, Allen said. He told graduates that, like their salvation, their ministries depend on the Spirit's work.
"Graduates, I say to you, rely upon that, build your confidence upon that, but do not in any degree foster complacency in your heart," he said. "For our responsibility is to preach and to share and to beg. The Spirit's responsibility is to give life."
Ministers should expect changed lives as they preach the Gospel, Allen said.
"When the Spirit works, the effects are seen," he said. "We preach the Gospel with the expectancy that it has the power to free the addict, to change the scoffer, to redeem the vilest offender."
Allen encouraged graduates to live with the Day of Judgment in mind.
"Aim to be men and women of the Gospel, who preach and teach and counsel and sing the new birth," Allen said. "And as you do, you know that you do not sit here to be judged by men. Make it your aim to live your life in ministry in such a way that when you face that Day of Judgment, your character, your life, your ministry and your message will have proven true."
Allen also announced Midwestern Seminary's Professor of the Year, John Lee, assistant professor of New Testament and Greek who is originally from South Korea.
Lee received a doctor of philosophy from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, a master of divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and a bachelor of music from Seoul National University in South Korea with a specialization in piano performance. His research interests include the Gospel of Mark, Second Temple Jewish monotheism and New Testament Christology. He has been involved with pastoral ministry in both English- and Korean-speaking churches.
Tim Sweetman is director of communications at Midwestern Seminary. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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