On Saturday, May 13, 145 students earned degrees marking the completion of their ministerial training at Martin Luther College. This included 29 Bachelor of Arts (preseminary) degrees, 89 Bachelor of Science in Education degrees (including 16 early childhood education), five Bachelor of Science degrees, and four seminary certifications.
In addition, 18 students received their Master of Science in Education degree.
The Commencement Service in the MLC gymnasium was conducted by presiding minister Rev. Paul Koelpin. MLC President Mark Zarling presented the commencement sermon on the theme, “Courage for the Commission,” and Dr. Jeff Wiechman, vice president for academics, assisted with the distribution of diplomas.
The sermon text chosen by the class, John 16:33, states: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In his sermon, Rev. Zarling emphasized where the graduates can look for their strength and courage to face the challenges of this world. He explained: “You’ve been taught that it’s all about Christ’s power, not your strength. It’s all about Christ’s message, not your smarts. It’s all about Christ’s saving love, not your emotional friendliness. You go forth for one reason: Jesus, always Jesus. As you step forward to carry Jesus’ name on your lips and in your lives, the words you chose will bring you courage. Courage is needed, for the task is impossible without the courage Christ provides.”
Zarling continued by describing the commission the graduates have received. “It’s not just a commission, but the great commission. It is a commission to go with the love of Christ to those lost. It is a commission empowered by the love of Christ, a love that found each of us, a love undeserved that brings us to the Father. This is the only commission ever given that has an eternal and unending impact for each and every soul you meet.”
Rev. Zarling reiterated to the graduates the challenges and the blessings connected to this commission. He continued: “It will not be easy. This commission will bring difficulty, hardship, suffering, and perhaps even death. But don’t be frightened. It is a commission that will bring you blessing. Listen to Jesus, and you will always have peace in him. In love Jesus tells you what to expect, so you are prepared with the sword of the Spirit and the power of prayer.”