Commencement Program Check out more information on the graduates, awards, and the service.
The Rev. Dr. M. Craig Barnes, Robert Meneilly Professor of Leadership and Ministry at PTS and pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, preached the baccalaureate sermon. Listen to his sermon.
The Rev. Barry C. Black, Chaplain of the United States Senate, offered the commencement sermon. His remarks are available in the Seminary's Library.
Charge to the Graduates
I asked one of you what I should say in your charge tonight and she said, “Tell us if we haven’t learned it yet, it’s too late now!” And she’s right about that. But, actually the truth is you’re going to keep learning and growing for the rest of your life. So, what I want you to remember tonight are your ABCs.
A Accountability: don’t be a loner in ministry. That makes you vulnerable, which is a recipe for trouble, and there are too many ministers getting into trouble these days because they don’t surround themselves with people they can trust who will hold them accountable.
B Books: don’t stop reading just because you’re graduating. Read theology, literature, science, authors who make you think, ones you don’t agree with, read a new book every other week or so. The demands of ministry will try to keep you from reading, but don’t let them do it; set aside a time every day where you sit down and read.
C Christ: remember Dr. Purves’ words—“It’s Christ’s ministry, not yours.” Get to know the mind of Christ. A fellow Oxford don who taught next to C.S. Lewis once saw a student entering Lewis’ study for a tutorial and said, “he knows so much you’ll never get to the bottom of him.” The same is true but even more of the mind of Christ. As you graduate tonight and begin your ministry keep learning the mind of Christ; you’ll never get to the bottom of it.
D Delegate: you can’t do it all by yourself; don’t micro-manage, trust the process and the people—Moses, Jesus and Paul modeled it.
E Exercise: That’s right—exercise your bodies. It will help your brains, your attitude and your sense of well-being; do a little every day even if it’s just walking around the block thinking about a sermon.
F Family time/Face time (which means less Facebook and more face-to-face). As Betty White said recently on Saturday Night Live, “When I was growing up we didn’t have Facebook, we had Phonebook, and we didn’t spend hours looking at it!”
G Grow in your faith: You’re going to hit a wall every seven years or so—either move or reinvent yourself, but whatever you do, keep growing in your faith or you will burn out; spend some time every day in Scripture and prayer.
H Humility: If you start thinking your ministry is all about you and all you’re accomplishing, I guarantee God or someone is going to put you in your place. They have a saying in Australia that goes like this: “rooster today, feather duster tomorrow!”
So, remember your ABCs as you leave this place. We’ve taught you all we can. Now others will teach you including members of your congregation. But your best teacher will be the Holy Spirit, the Parakalo one who will “call alongside you” for the rest of your life. May God continue to bless you in your ministry from this day forward and forevermore. God bless you all. Have a great life!
The Rev. William J. Carl III, Ph.D.
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary