On Saturday, July 30, 2022, Winebrenner Theological Seminary held its annual Commencement. This year, twenty students graduated, including six from the MA in Clinical Counseling, two with a Master of Divinity, and twelve with the MA in Practical Theology.
One attender called the ceremony “warm and friendly.” Since it marked the first major group to graduate having done their entire degree online, it was the first time some students had met each other on the ground. There were joyous reunions and smiles everywhere as graduates met each other all over again. For many of the faculty, it was also the first time they med their students on the ground. Graduates were reticent to pause for pictures as they spent time catching up with each other.
The Commencement was also the first in the history of Winebrenner to be “hybrid.” Thirteen of the graduates were present in Findlay while six were present through teleconferencing. (One had pastoral obligations.) The graduation service was simulcast to graduates, including friends and family who joined. When a remote graduate’s name was called, they were spot-lighted on the screen so everyone in the physical auditorium could celebrate their accomplishments.
Many of the graduates are already involved in a ministry as an active leader. There were pastors and teachers, chaplains and counselors, and other ministry types represented. It also marked the first time that more than a majority of the clinical counseling graduates both had a job offer in the field and already had passed the state licensure exam! A denominational leader even was on hand to try and recruit the remaining graduates to minister in the area they serve.
The class speakers were Pastor Brian Hunter and counselor Madeline (Maddy) Baker. Maddy reminded the graduates to trust God’s hand of provision and His open doors of opportunity. Pastor Brian reminded graduates that we are all servants, regardless of titles or degrees. All ministers are to be stewards of the people and organizations they lead.
President Sleasman charged the graduates to remain as disciples and to continue discipling other people. He noted that quite a few graduates told him that they felt spiritually formed through classes and interactions with faculty. He reminded all that the heart of Winebrenner Theological Seminary is discipleship.
- Dr. Bruce Coats, Academic Dean