Corpus Christi & McAllen: Stark College and Seminary held its annual graduation celebrations in Corpus Christi and McAllen, conferring twenty-eight certificates and eleven degrees.

There were twenty-eight Certificate in Ministry recipients, three Diploma in Ministry recipients, seven Bachelor of Arts in Ministry recipients, and one Master of Arts in Ministry graduate. The graduates from the Bachelor and Master programs are the first graduates from these two new additions to the academic offerings at SCS.

SCS Provost Dr. Jena Dunn expressed her excitement and said, “Graduation is the time when we see the culmination of so many dreams fulfilled and fears overcome.” Two SCS certificate graduates and a married couple, Steve and Cyndi Jaquez, are great examples of overcoming fear and fulfilling a lifelong dream. Steve is the Pastor of Segunda Iglesia Bautista in Corpus Christi and Cyndi works for the local BSM. They are non-traditional students who could have easily dismissed the call to higher education. Dr. Dunn also noted that for some students, graduation “is both the completion of formalized education and the beginning of life-long learning.” Joe Aguilar, Pastor of FBC Weslaco Espanol, was the first ever recipient of the SCS Master of Arts in Ministry. Although he has finished this incredible academic milestone, he will no doubt continue to learn as he serves in his local church.

The ceremonies were held on two nights in two different cities. The first ceremony took place in Corpus Christi and included graduates from the Corpus Christi campus and Victoria teaching site. The event was graciously hosted by Primera Iglesia Bautista. The second event was held the following night on the SCS McAllen campus.

During a special presentation at the Corpus Christi ceremony, SCS President Emeritus Linn Self was presented an honorary Doctorate of Divinity in recognition of his many years serving the local church.  Dr. Tony Celelli, SCS President, noted, “Some achieve advanced degrees with their academic pursuits, but pastor Linn Self earned a doctorate with his blood, sweat, and tears over 58-years of loving and leading God’s people.” In his commencement address, Dr. Self urged the graduates to “be a blessing” as they continue in ministry. Drawing from 1 Peter 3:8, he called on the graduates to demonstrate a unity of mind, sympathy, love, tender-heartedness, and humility.

SCS also presented the Outstanding Faculty of the Year award to Dr. Ken Hugghins. Dr. Hugghins exemplifies the practitioner-scholar model of faculty service as he is both a local church pastor and a highly credentialed professor.

At the McAllen ceremony, SCS presented the pillar of light award to Kevin and Carmen Pagan in recognition of their outstanding service in the community. The commencement address was given by BT.Church’s Pastor of Campus Development & Church Planting Loui Canchola. In his message, Pastor Loui challenged the graduates to give their lives away. He said, “I want to challenge you to give your life away to the greatest thing you can; to the only thing that is eternal: Jesus and His Kingdom.”

The highlight of every graduation is the attention given to all SCS graduates. The program directors wrote a personal introduction for every graduate that featured the individual’s service in the church, ministry calling, and academic goals. Family and friends are encouraged to clap and cheer as they celebrate their loved one’s achievement. Dr. Tony Miranda, Director of the SCS Graduate Program, commented, “Graduation at SCS is a family gathering! There is no feeling comparable as an advisor and professor than to read the names of the graduates as they walk to the platform to receive their diplomas. At SCS, we are tremendously blessed to see how God is leading our students not only to the completion of their theological studies but to fulfilling their callings; their success is our success!”

If you feel a call towards theological education, we would love to help you prayerfully discern how you can respond to God’s leading. You can contact us at stark.edu to learn more.