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The Columbia International University December graduating class of 2012 celebrated twice on Dec. 14 – but the celebrations were a river apart.
Two commencement exercises marked graduation day. In the morning, degrees were conferred on nearly 125 students on CIU’s main campus. In the afternoon, just across the Broad River from the main campus, 13 CIU student-inmates enrolled in the CIU Prison Initiative received Associate of Arts degrees in a ceremony at the Kirkland Correctional Institution.
At the commencement on the main campus, the charge to the graduates was given by former CIU president Dr. Johnny Miller. Miller served as president from 1991 to 1999, and currently teaches in CIU Seminary & School of Ministry.
Drawing from the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy, Miller reminded the graduates that ministry is hard work, but they should have patient endurance like a farmer who waits for his crops.
“Only those who labor through the hard times will be there to gather the fruit at the harvest,” Miller said.
To hear Miller’s entire address to the graduates go to:
Also at the on-campus commencement, CIU awarded an Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree to Dr. H. Wilbert Norton. Norton is a retired missionary and educator who served for more than a decade in the Belgian Congo and three years in Nigeria where he founded a seminary and Bible institute. Norton was also instrumental in the founding of the triennial Urbana Missionary Conference that challenges thousands of young people to enter missionary service.
See photos from the on-campus commencement at the CIU Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ciuimpact/sets/72157632300603759/. . .
Meanwhile across the river, the student-inmates were challenged in their ministry by Dr. Andre Rogers, professor of Theology and Pastoral Ministries at CIU. He acknowledged that Prison Initiative graduates have “rock star” status among their fellow inmates because of their education. But he warned them that could be a stumbling block.
“I pray that you will be full of goodness, mercy and peace,” Rogers said. “Bigger heads means smaller hearts.”
The Prison Initiative graduates will be assigned as chaplain’s assistants at prisons across South Carolina, where 44 CIU Prison Initiative alumni are already serving.