Erskine Seminary celebrates 176th commencement

Posted on May 24, 2013

The Rev. Peter Frank van Dalen

Faculty, family, and friends gathered to honor some 45 graduates who received degrees from Erskine Theological Seminary May 18 at the Due West Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Dr. David A. Norman, president of Erskine College and Theological Seminary, welcomed graduates and guests to the service, and Chairman W. David Conner brought greetings from the Erskine Board of Trustees.

Dr. N. Bradley Christie, senior vice president for academic affairs, introduced the speaker.

The Rev. Peter Frank van Dalen, executive director of World Witness, the Board of Foreign Missions of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, delivered the commencement sermon and received the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. He served as a missionary in Pakistan as well as a trainer of missionary candidates and also helped to establish Missionary Resources Connection of Columbia.

Taking as his text Genesis 13:14-18, van Dalen said that Abram, as he is still known in this passage, “had a heavenly perspective on an earthly prosperity.”

Once Abram and Lot had separated, the Lord urges the patriarch to look about him to the north, south, east, and west, and promises to give all that Abram can see to him and his descendants. “God tells us, ‘lift up your eyes, and look north, south, east and west,’” van Dalen told the graduates.

“The world belongs to Jesus,” he said.

Brett James Blackman receives congratulations from Dr. Jerdone Davis.

The invocation was given by the Rev. L. Calvin Draffin, pastor of the Due West ARP Church, and a prayer for the Class of 2013 was offered by Associate Professor of Christian Education Dr. Jerdone Davis.

Dr. James A. Meek, dean of the seminary, presented this year’s student awards.

The Bruce G. Pierce Award for Christian Leadership was given to David Samuel Hubbs.

The Chalice Press Book Award was given to Erik Scott Meberg.

The Zondervan Publishing House Award in Biblical Hebrew also went to Meberg.

The Douglas Joel Culver Award in Biblical Hebrew was given to Matthew David Frasier.

The Zondervan Publishing House Award in Biblical Greek was presented to Eric Scott Wenger.

Outgoing Student Body Association officers recognized included David Hubbs, president; David Pendergrass, vice president; and John Brooks Pipher, representative for the Columbia Campus.

A group of master’s degree candidates poses in front of the Due West ARP Church.

Norman conferred the degrees on the candidates, who were presented by Christie, and Erskine College and Seminary Alumni Association President Steve Southwell inducted the Class of 2013 into the organization.

Dr. Brent Turner, executive director of Christian Education Ministries for the ARP Church, presented the honorary degree candidate.

A Doctor of Ministry degree was awarded posthumously to Billy Shane Stauffer. His widow accepted the diploma.

Shane Stauffer’s family displays his diploma.

Degrees awarded included the following:

Master of Arts in Practical Ministry: Clifford Carmichael Lowery, Marietta, Ga.; Elizabeth Douglas Blair, Pickens; Rebecca Burch Evans, Orangeburg; Paula Ann Dargan Perry, Irmo

Master of Arts in Theological Studies: John McCarley, Roswell, Ga.

Master of Divinity: Kirk Gregory Gipson, Aiken; John Mugwimi Macere, Central Kenya, Africa; Thessa Goodwin Smith, Greenwood; Nicholas Caleb Tyler, Lumberton, N.C.; Henry S. Baptiste, New Orleans, La.; Joseph Baroody, Florence; Brett James Blackman, Winter Park, Fla.; Donald R. Brown, Cayce; Arthur Richardson Denning, Newport, N.C.; Rickie Gregory Glenn, Spartanburg; Cementhia E. Grant, Augusta, Ga.; Clyde Henryhand, Kingstree; Sunghun Kim, Busan, Korea; James Renard Matthews, Lane; Erik Scott Meberg, Easton, Pa.; Robrett Kent Suits, Lexington; Brooks Dupler Willet, Columbia; Christopher Wolfgang Wilson, Columbia; Caleb Wayne Wright, Columbia; Alvin L. Green Sr., Greenwood; David Samuel Hubbs, Florence; John William Miller, Augusta, Ga.; Jonathan David Ward, Manchester, Vt.

Master of Theology: Pascal Tobias Reichmuth, Berlin, Germany

Doctor of Ministry: Michael Roy Allen, Cary, N.C.; Lyde Coley Andrews, Pamplico; Ronald Anthony Casteel, Cerritos, Calif.; John Wynn Parks, Florence; Charles Edwin Allen Jr., Greenville; Ronald E. Cooper Jr., Saginaw, Mich.; Eric O. Dean, Chattanooga, Tenn.; Craig Michael Johnson, St. Louis, Mo.; Michael Anthony Kelly, Columbia; Abraham Murray, Charleston; Troy D. Parson, Minneapolis, Minn.; James Wayne Ramsey, DeSoto, Mo.; Gerald A. Sherbourne, Holden, Mass.; Frederick Neal Treaster, Honea Path; Matthew Owen Williams, Baker, Fla.; Billy Shane Stauffer, Saraland, Ala. (posthumous)