The achievements of 35 recipients of certificates and degrees were recognized at William and Catherine Booth College’s 2009 graduation exercises in Winnipeg. For many, graduation initiated a new phase of life—potential employment. For Salvation Army officers who studied for years to complete their degree program, it was a recognition of their perseverance and personal development.
At the opening banquet, Commissioner William W. Francis, territorial commander and chancellor of Booth College, encouraged graduates to remain focused on their God-given mission. Dr. Donald Burke, president, reminded them that God works in partnership with responsive human beings who see God’s call to serve in the suffering of the world. Gordon Fairbank, the longest serving trustee in the history of the college, and Lt-Colonel Jean Moulton, then secretary for personnel, were presented gifts as they concluded their service to Booth College.
In the Sunday morning service, members of the college community reflected on their studies, faith and future. Dr. John Rook, chair of the college Board of Trustees, challenged them to realize that God calls us to build a better world by confronting injustice, poverty and suffering in the name of Jesus. Using 1 Peter 2:4-5 as his text, Commissioner William Francis urged students to remember the various ways in which stones are used to build great structures. “As living stones,” said Commissioner Francis, “we are part of a larger structure being built by God.” The graduating students then gathered at the front of the chapel to join Dr. David Neale, vice-president and academic dean, who led them in a ceremony focusing on a stone of remembrance, reminding graduates of their calling to work with God to bring his Kingdom to earth.
During the graduation ceremony on Sunday afternoon at Knox United Church, the honourable Doug Martindale, MLA, brought greetings from the government of the province of Manitoba. The valedictorian for 2009, James Clare, combined humour with more serious observations of the experiences of the graduating class. In his address, Dr. John Rook assumed the persona of the Apostle Peter as he spoke about the ministry of Jesus.
Commissioner William Francis awarded certificates and conferred degrees on the graduates. Robin Reid received the Chancellor’s Medal for outstanding achievement in her degree program. Captain Lee-Ann van Duinen earned the General’s Medal, recognizing her leadership potential as an extended learning degree student. This is not the end, but the beginning of the next phase in the graduates’ lifelong journey of learning and serving.