Commencement week is one of the busiest, most exciting, and emotional weeks of our year at Life Pacific. Every celebration reminds us of the place each student holds in our hearts.
This year Life Pacific and LPC-Ignite reached an important milestone by graduating the most students in seven decades. Each one of the more than 170 graduates represent goals achieved and dreams yet to be realized. Further, each graduate takes with them a piece of our hearts as they venture out in service of the Lord in the Church and the marketplace.
The busyness of commencement week can sometimes be overwhelming. This year, however, each event reminded me of why we work so hard every day for our students and the LPC community. Here are a few highlights of the week -- from my perspective.
I traveled to Christiansburg, Virginia for our East Coast graduation and the first-ever baccalaureate service of LPC-Ignite. Foursquare Global Council Chair Leslie Keegel addressed the graduates and ministered prophetically over their lives. It was a stirring time together celebrating the hard work of students who were about to receive their AA and BA diplomas the following day.
Later that week, we celebrated commencement on the West Coast with students from our traditional, degree-completion, and graduate programs. Commencement was held at glorious Angelus Temple, the birthplace of our institution in Los Angeles. Pastor Matthew Barnett and the Los Angeles Dream Center/Angelus Temple team were as gracious as always in hosting us.
Our commencement speaker was Rev. Mary Bennett from Linefork, Kentucky Foursquare Church who I gained admiration for years ago while hosting a student mission trip in Linefork.
Mary is often called the “Mother Teresa of Foursquare” for her years of service to orphans and disabled children in the Appalachian community where she grew up. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Mary shared the stories of struggle and success she has experienced serving Jesus in Kentucky since she graduated from Life Pacific College in 1972.
We were pleased to confer on Mary the honorary doctor of divinity degree for her years of selfless service to the Body of Christ and people of Kentucky.
Foursquare Vice President and General Supervisor Tammy Dunahoo, representing The Foursquare Church, provided the baccalaureate address to our graduates the evening before graduation. Student representatives Pastor Rebecca Best (representing the MASL program) and Gabriel Kepler (representing the traditional BA programs) spoke to the achievements and aspirations of all our graduates. Gabriel will attend Yale School of Divinity next fall to pursue his graduate work in theology.
In between our coast-to-coast commencement celebrations this week, we also attended a banquet at the San Dimas Canyon Country Club to honor our own Dr. Dan Stewart as the San Dimas Chamber of Commerce “Professor of the Year.” What a thrill to see this outstanding educator and my dear friend recognized for more than 30 years of quality service at LPC, and what a thrill to see the college and our host city fellowshipping together in this honor.
Returning to campus, I walked inside McPherson Chapel to find a packed house of student athletes and their families who will join us next year as part of our newly launched Life Pacific men’s and women’s wrestling programs.
I am pleased to report that we signed 21 new student athletes that night. We expect about 60 on the wrestling teams this fall. With their families and friends, we laid hands on each one praying for God’s guidance as they committed to represent Life Pacific and the Kingdom of God through the sport of wrestling. It was a heart-warming sight.
Meeting the families of new students just being introduced to Life Pacific, I was reminded anew of the importance of getting to know them and the vital call we have to influence their lives toward seeing their dreams fulfilled.
And, these wonderful experiences represent just one week at LPC.
If I had to sum up commencement week in a word, it would be “bittersweet.” Bitter because we say goodbye to students with whom we have developed deep, abiding relationships as they have grown in Christ. Sweet because we celebrate their incredible accomplishment as they launch out into something entirely new.
After six years of commencements as president of Life Pacific, I have concluded that a busy week like this is part of the job. More than that, celebrating with our students –whether coming or going – becomes an abiding part of all of our hearts.