Truett Seminary Celebrates First Graduation

June 3, 1997

by Brenda Tacker

WACO, Texas - The first class of George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University celebrated graduation with 30 students receiving master of divinity degrees during the university's spring commencement.

William D. Shiell of Cantonment, Florida, received recognition as the Outstanding Student. Brian C. Brewer of Tulsa, Okla., was the first of the Truett seminarians to receive his degree.

The first class graduated 100 years after George W. Truett, the renowned Texas Baptist preacher, earned his degree from Baylor. Commencement was at 3 p.m. May 17 in the university's Ferrell Center with Baylor President Robert B. Sloan, Jr., and Truett Dean J. Bradley Creed presenting the diplomas.

"Graduation is often viewed as a completion, but for these graduates it is a beginning of the service of minstry to which God has called them. We have grown close to these students over the last three years, but we have anticipated this time when we send them forth with our prayers and blessings," Creed said.

A baccalaureate service for the Truett students occurred at 6 p.m. May 16 in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church of Waco, a building dedicated by Truett in 1905. The choir of David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church of Austin, directed by Dr. Ruth Davis Sauls, provided a mini-concert prior to and the anthem during the baccalaureate. The church's pastor, Joseph C. Parker, Jr., was among the graduates.

Dr. Frank Pollard, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jackson, Miss., preached the baccalaureate sermon. "It takes a special kind of student to enter a new seminary," he said. "You are to be congratulated for your pioneering spirit." He added that the academic description of Truett Seminary gave him chill bumps and the thought "this is what God had in mind when he said, 'Now, I'll make a seminary.' "

Pollard's presentation, "Shaping Great and Powerful Ministries," was based on John 1:6-8: There came a man, sent from God, and his name was John.

"Know that God sent you. And thank him," Pollard said. "John knew where he came from and what he came for and who to point to - Jesus Christ. . . . As ministers, we're here to point to Jesus."

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Sloan, who served as the inaugural dean of the seminary, delivered a directive to the graduates. "I charge you to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I charge you to live your life with the integrity of Jesus Christ. . . .to live your life in faithful ministry."

During the baccalaureate, students scheduled to graduate in May, August and December received three gifts as Stacy Houser, Truett director of student life and church relations, read the seminarian's name.

First, Dr. A.J. Conyers, Truett professor of theology, and Dr. Ruth Ann Foster, assistant professor of Christian Scripture, presented each graduate with a Centennial Medallion. The 3-inch medallion, hanging on a forest green ribbon, honors the centennial of Truett's graduation and the continuation of his legacy through the seminary. The medallions feature images of Truett and the Baylor campus.

Second, Sloan and Creed gave distinctive Truett alumni lapel pins featuring the seminary's logo and the year of graduation.

Third, Dr. Russell H. Dilday, distinguished professor of homiletics, handed each student a leather-bound inscribed New American Standard Bible, a gift from the Lockman Foundation, LaHabra, Calif.

Centennial Medallions also were presented to Mr. & Mrs. John Baugh and Mr. and Mrs. Paul Piper, founding benefactors; Dr. Herbert H. Reynolds, founding president; and Sloan, founding dean.

George W. Truett graduated from Baylor in 1897. As Baptists' most prominent pastor and ardent advocate of religious liberty, Truett served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas for 47 years until his death in 1944. Before Truett enrolled at Baylor, he raised $92,000 during a 23-month period ending in 1893 to clear the university's debt. He later served 46 years as a Baylor trustee.

The seminary opened in fall 1994, and now has more than 140 students and 14 faculty and staff

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