In a traditional ceremony, Campbell Divinity celebrated the beginning of the theological education experience for new students on Tuesday.
Barry Jones, associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, returned to campus during sabbatical to provide the worship message. Jones laughed as he introduced the topic of his message, higher education, acknowledging the double entendre of the graduate and doctoral levels of divinity school and the act of being educated about a higher power.
“In the school of Praise, God the Father is our founder, God the Son is our model student, and God the Holy Spirit is our teacher instructing us in how we can praise the one true God with our whole selves and our whole lives.”
Jones’ message hit home for Lonnie Horne, one of the new students commissioned during the ceremony.
“I believe that an effective servant needs to be able to learn as well as teach using all available resources and tools afforded to him,” he said.
Horne, a U.S. Army veteran, accepted his call to the ministry in 1999 while stationed in Korea. He preached for 15 years throughout his military career in the United States and overseas during deployments. When he retired in September, he accepted a position at New Covenant Christian Center in Raeford and began exploring what his next step in the ministry would be.
“After much prayer, I chose to pursue divinity school to have more tools to put in my tool bag since ministry is my passion,” he said.
“I want to be able to serve God’s people in the best way that I possibly can.”
Monica Young is pursuing her master of divinity with a concentration in counseling to serve God’s people the best way she possibly can, too.
Young felt encouraged by a mentor to explore graduate programs after completing a residency year in the Clinical Pastoral Education Program at WakeMed Health and Hospitals. This mentor suggested Campbell, and Young attended a visitation day held on the day of commissioning for the fall 2016 semester.
While on campus, she attended the commissioning service which celebrated the 20-year history of the Campbell Divinity School as well as a few classes.
Reviewing her experiences on campus that day, Young said she was blown away by the sense of community in the program and the information presented in class. She knew she could learn a lot by attending the program. As she drove home, she heard a song on the radio called “Your Destiny” and took it as a sign of God opening the door for her to continue her higher education.
She applied to the counseling program after that experience, despite her reservations about returning school, her hesitations about how to fund the journey, and wondering how she would manage a part-time job as a chaplain in addition to a full course load.
“I stood in faith that God would make a way,” she said. And He did. “What seemed so out of reach for me was made possible through my new family and community at Campbell University.”
Those same doors also opened for Micayla Mitchell, another new student in the divinity program. Mitchell, a recent graduate of North Carolina State University, calls her journey to Campbell a “God thing.”
“He made a way for me and provided me peace in the doors that He both opened and closed,” she said.
She says she spent many hours praying about her plans after college. Her personal experiences of intentional care and investment of those who ministered to her at crucial points in her life led her to give of herself in the same way for future generations.
Considering a few divinity schools, she specifically prayed that if the Lord intended her to further her education, He would make a way for her to do so.
“Between making me feel at home when I first visited Campbell and supplying the financial means, God answered my prayers and led me to Campbell Divinity School.”
Back at the commissioning ceremony, the 10 new students received their Celtic cross pins as their prayer partners, family, friends, and faculty advisors stood to pledge their support throughout their educational journey.