Wittenberg Class of 2014 Plans Annual Baccalaureate Service
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – Before Wittenberg celebrates its 169th Commencement on Saturday, May 17, the class of 2014 will hold its Baccalaureate service on Friday, May 16. Pre-service music will begin at 2 p.m., with the ceremony starting at 2:15 p.m.
The Baccalaureate service is an academic and religious tradition that celebrates the upcoming commencement festivities surrounding graduating students. It is a time to reflect on seniors’ time at Wittenberg, and to look toward faith as they begin the next step in their journey.
A group of seniors helped plan the service with Matevia Endowed University Pastor, Rachel Sandum Tune. As the seniors reflected on their time at Wittenberg, and this point in their lives, they settled on the theme, “Rooted in love, equipped to serve,” as expressing both the gifts of their Wittenberg education and their faith. Many graduating seniors will participate in the service through reading scripture, sharing reflections, and taking part in special music.
Pre-service music will feature the University’s a cappella groups Just Eve and Wittmen Crew, seniors Danielle O’Neill and Benjamin Holbrook, and musical duo Julia Devine and Sean McCullough. Special music throughout the service will be shared by seniors of the Wittenberg Choir and Wittenberg Singers, as well as both a cappella groups.
Readers include Katie Mauch, Ashley Milliner, Lucas McSurley, and Melissa Miller, as well as Katy Williams and Cody Wright leading congregation in the psalm. Rachel Ross, Jon Drewsen, and Nathan Mawhirter wrote and will share various prayers throughout the service.
The opening prayer by Ross focuses on asking God for help “to embrace not only the knowledge we have gained here but also our experiences which have helped shape who we are.” The passage from the prophet Jeremiah speaks a word of promise in facing an uncertain time and unknown future: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
An annual tradition includes the lighting of a memorial candle in honor of loved ones who cannot be at commencement, as well as in memory of loved ones who have died. Psalm 23 will be read by Maija Mikkelsen while the candle lighting will be done by Regina Gasser.
The planning committee selects the beneficiaries of the offering at the Baccalaureate service. Half of the offering will be given to support the Class of 2014 Scholarship fund, which will be introduced by class officers Colton Bright and Mikey Adams. This fund is being dedicated to the memory of Ann McGree, a retired academic departmental assistant who came back to work in the Central Dining Room, where she was well-known and beloved by students and their families, as well as all in the Wittenberg community, for her constant smile and kinds words. The rest of the offering will be designated to two organizations that are meaningful to Wittenberg students: Second Harvest Food Bank, introduced by Chanteal Hall, and Habitat for Humanity International, introduced by Evan Cameron.
Four members of the Class of 2014 will reflect on their experience of growth and change at Wittenberg. Those speaking include Brianna Betts, Nicole Perry, and Clinton Rodgers, with Mohammed “Kumar” Alam sharing a spoken word poem that expresses the energy and hope of this moment of ending and new beginning.
Pastor John Morris of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Dublin, Ohio, will deliver the homily. Morris is an alumnus of Wittenberg University. He is also a current member and past president of the Executive Committee of the Alumni Board for the University.
University Organist and Adjunct Instructor of Music David Crean will serve as the organist for the service. University President Laurie M. Joyner will provide greetings on behalf of the university, along with Adrienne Stout, vice-president of the Class of 2014, on behalf of the class.