KANSAS CITY – Graduates, families and friends gathered together in the newly dedicated Daniel Lee Chapel on May 10 to celebrate Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s 55th commencement exercises – launching over 100 new graduates into gospel ministry.
Among the many key moments, two clearly stood out as the institution, which exists for the Church, conferred its first Doctor of Philosophy degree and honored long-time librarian, Craig Kubic, for his service to multiple generations of students, faculty and staff.
During the doctoral hooding ceremony, Todd R. Chipman became the Doctor of Philosophy program’s first graduate, receiving the Ph.D. in Biblical Studies in New Testament degree. Chipman was one of six students to enroll in the program’s second Ph.D. class in 2009.
“Institutionally, we are proud to award our first Ph.D. degree, and we look forward to awarding many more in the years ahead,” said Jason Allen, Midwestern Seminary’s president. “The growth of our Ph.D. program, especially in recent months, is a source of institutional joy and accomplishment.”
Midwestern Seminary introduced the Doctor of Philosophy degree in 2008 with emphases in Old and New Testament. The first class saw five students enrolled, and currently there are more than 50 students in the program. In April 2014, the Ph.D. program expanded significantly, as five new emphases were approved by the school’s trustees including Biblical Preaching, Biblical Ethics, Biblical Theology, Biblical Missiology and Biblical Ministry.
Kubic, who has worked in his current position since 1988, received a standing ovation from the overflow audience as Allen praised his service at the seminary and presented him with two gifts.
Of the longtime faculty member’s years of faithful Kingdom work Allen said, “Our entire seminary community expresses its deepest appreciation for Craig Kubic who, for the past 26 years, has demonstrated his great love for the Lord Jesus Christ through his dedicated service as library director and as an educator here. By fully implementing the gifts God has given him, Kubic faithfully carried out Midwestern Seminary’s mission of educating God-called men and women to be and make disciples of Jesus Christ for multiple generations.
“We honor and thank you,” Allen continued, “for pouring your life into the lives of so many students, faculty, and staff members. You have truly exalted the name of Jesus Christ as a result of your tireless efforts over these many years.”
Kubic will depart in August to assume the dean of Libraries position at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas.
During his inaugural address, Allen preached a scriptural exhortation from John 3, entitled, “You Must Be Born Again.”
Focusing on the story of Jesus and Nicodemus, Allen reminded students of their central calling in light of Jesus’ conversation with the religious leader.
“Those that are called to ministry, and those especially before me this morning, are called first and foremost to be ministers of the gospel,” he said. His prayer for the morning centered on a call for a new generation of mighty gospel servants to strengthen the church and to win many to faith in Jesus.
Reacting to the realities of the current age, as well referencing the great evils of the past century, Allen said the message that Jesus gave to Nicodemus’ question about the Kingdom of God was as relevant as ever.
“If there is one message that this generation needs to hear preached again, and again, and again, it is this: you must be born again,” Allen said.
The seminary’s leader pointed out how Jesus emphasized that the new birth was not something done by man, but was solely dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit. Allen told the graduates that in addition to their salvation being based upon the work of the Holy Spirit, their ministries would be as well.
“Graduates, I say to you, rely upon that, build your confidence upon that, but do not in any degree foster complacency in your heart,” he said. “For our responsibility is to preach and to share and to beg. The Spirit’s responsibility is to give life.”
Life, indeed, is given, Allen continued. It is a completely changed life we should expect to see as we preach the gospel.
“When the Spirit works, the effects are seen,” he said. “We preach the gospel with the expectancy that it has the power to free the addict, to change the scoffer, to redeem the vilest offender.”
Concluding with a moving story of the great pastor and preacher George Whitefield’s final sermon and epitaph, he encouraged the graduates to live a life with the final Day of Judgment in mind.
“Aim to be men and women of the gospel, who preach and teach and counsel and sing the new birth,” Allen said. “And as you do, you know that you do not sit here to be judged by men. Make it your aim to live your life in ministry in such a way that when you face that Day of Judgment, your character, your life, your ministry, and your message will have proven true.”