By Thomas Harpur
Dundonald Baptist Church was the venue for this year’s Commencement Service. Nine fresh faced first year students (well nine faces at various stages of freshness) gathered each with one invited guest due to COVID restrictions in place. Also joining with them where the second and third year students together with College staff.
Pastor Lee Campbell (Management Committee Member) opened our service with a warm welcome and prayer, reading from Amos 8:11 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” Pastor Campbell gave thanks that God is still raising men and women for His work.
After the singing of our first hymn (Praise to the Lord, the Almighty) Principal Edwin Ewart welcomed our speaker for the evening Pastor Martin Parker from Westside Baptist Church in Bandon Co. Cork. He also thanked the church in Dundonald for hosting the evening. Principal Ewart then brought us the College Update. He encouraged the students as he reminded us that we are at the College through God’s leading and not by our own notion. After sharing some encouraging news regarding the 10 Year Vision which is on target with 36 gospel workers now in place, Principal Ewart thanked his team at the College for all their hard work especially over the challenging conditions of this last 18 months.
It was then time to meet the first-year students and this was done through previously recorded interviews, followed by Dr Peter Firth praying for the first year students.
Richard Donnan read John 3:22–36 and Pastor Martin Parker drew our attention to the difference between John the Baptist’s own attitude and that of his disciples to the roles God had given them. John’s disciples were busy comparing John’s ministry to that of Jesus. They were in a popularity contest and because of this they were “consumed by jealousy, crushed by despair and overcome with pride.” We were reminded that John was content in the role God had for him and it was sufficient for him. The question was then turned on us, will we be content in the role God has for us, no matter where or what it is?
John’s joy was complete when he saw Jesus in His rightful place. Verse 30 reads “He must become greater; I must become less.” This is something we all must realise. John knew who Jesus was, he knew Jesus came with ultimate authority from God, was loved intimately by God and was trusted implicitly by God and as Pastor Parker reminded us “the eternal destinies of every human being rests in their response to Him, not you, but to him.” Pastor Parker ended by asking what our goal was as the College year commences. It is his prayer that as “students and teachers alike we have such a clear vision of who Jesus is, that you start saying, continue saying, keep saying, never stop saying, He must become greater, I must become less”.
After the singing of our final hymn ‘His mercy is more’, Pastor Richard McCord from Dundonald Baptist Church closed in prayer. Refreshments were served in the hall to finish off an enjoyable and challenging but encouraging evening.