Be led and lead, graduates told during commencement (video link)

Follow God and lead others, graduates were told at commencement May 7.

“God wants to be your leader,” Gary Wall told 426 graduates, their friends and families on the East Hall Green of the main campus. “There are many choices to be made, but this is by far the most important, to follow or not, to live for God or for yourself, to serve or be served.”

But being a follower is only the beginning. “The question is, not only will you follow God, but will lead some other people to follow Him, too? What will you build for the glory of God?” asked Wall, pastor for the Pacific District Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, the denomination affiliated with FPU.

Wall recalled that in 1960 a few faithful leaders bought a cotton field and built the school that became FPU. “What,” he asked the graduates, two of whom were his daughters, “will they say 60 years from now would not have been if it were not for the class of 2011?” he asked.

Ceremonies began at 10:00 a.m. for the 208 graduates of traditional undergraduate and graduate programs, and at 6:00 p.m. for the 218 bachelor’s degree completion program graduates. The morning commencement included 21 members of the first class of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, formerly MB Biblical Seminary. The seminary became a school of the university in February 2010 and this May marks the first joint ceremonies. Wall is a graduate of FPU and MB Biblical Seminary.

Several awards were given at the morning ceremony. Graduates Jennifer Deibert and Kelsey Penner received the Harold Haak Award and the Academic Award, respectively. Given by the faculty, the Haak award is named for the former FPU president, and the Academic Award goes to the traditional undergraduate with the highest grade point average.

Marshall and Pamela Johnston, history and classics professors, received the Nickel Excellence in Teaching Award, established to recognize faculty achievement. Every Neighborhood Partnership received the Seminary Social Service Award for its dedication to social justice.