The 10 a.m. commencement saw the dispersing of degrees and
certificates to undergraduates, and at 1 p.m., graduate degrees were
Dr. Keith Ray welcomed everyone expressing sentiment of the occasion
as an exciting moment when grads are transitioning into new lives.
He added that he had that same feeling also as he said, "I am
commencing with you." This was his last official exercise as
president of the university.
Dr. Ray drew on illustration from A.A. Milne, author of Winnie the
“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is
something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe,
stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most
important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you.”
He said it is important to understand who you are and urged the
grads to keep focused on "Who you are in "Him,"" as they enter
In his "love of Christ mission," Dr. Ray retires from a nearly
25-year career in higher education leadership. He began serving at
Dallas Christian College as Dean of Students, and then served four
years as Dallas' president. Dr. Ray then came to Lincoln in 1998 to
serve 16 years as the president of LCU.
While president at Dallas, Dr. Ray caught sight of an ambitious
young man, a ministry driven student, Jud Wilhite. Wilhite, now a
leading author, speaker and senior pastor at Central Church of
Christ, Las Vegas, served as keynote speaker.
Wilhite recalled that day when President Ray grabbed him, pulled him
into his office and sat him down to get to know him. Wilhite had
been carrying a Chuck Swindol book under his arm and Dr. Ray took
that book from him saying it would be good reading for when Wilhite
when he was an old man. Dr. Ray handed him a different book saying,
"Here, read this," giving him a copy of "The Relevance of Physics"
by Stanley Jaki.
Wilhite said that there were other moments that Dr. Ray continued to
mentor him as a student at Dallas, and he valued those moments;
kiddingly adding, "I'm an old man now. I'm still waiting to get my
copy of Swindol back."
Getting straight to the point in his message for the new graduates,
who would now be entering ministry, Wilhite drew on an illustration
of riding a rollercoaster, and said to "stay focused" during the ups
For his scripture reference, Wilhite drew from the Apostle Paul's
message to those who would minister as found in 2 Corinthians 5:13
verses a and b, "Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is
God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge." - New American
He said, "As soon as you start leading, people will take shots at
you." He illustrated the challenge and importance in ministry
explaining the importance to put yourself aside, "Put God front and
center, and you follow."
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Ministry is messy, he said, and you will be
drawn into people’s messes all while dealing with your own mess
in keeping a marriage and raising children. Encouragingly he
said, "When you are called somewhere, God has a way of working
it all out."
First and emphatically he said, "Stay on your knees." Prayer and
a relationship with God are essential in ministry.
He next added definitively, and "Be controlled by Christ love."
Wilhite shared his own father's model of strength, faithfulness
and love; and the deathbed inspiration of a commitment to meet
again in a place where the sun is always shining on the other
side of life.
He concluded, "Focus on God, people you love, people you have
touched with that love. Love of God and others. That is what
life is all about."
With those words of wisdom, the graduates were individually
called forth by Dr. James Estep, Academic Dean of Undergraduate
Studies and Dr. Shane Wood, Academic Dean of Hargrove School of
Adult and Graduate Studies to receive their degrees as
recommended by Dr. Ray.
As the grads exited the stage, Lynn Laughlin,
Special Assistant to the President and Associate Vice President of
Alumni Services, presented each with a letter from the Alumni
Association, a first year membership card and a alumni pin.
Later, due to space constraints and length of time if all three
schools would be commenced together, the Hargrove School of Adult
and Graduate Studies and Lincoln Christian Seminary ceremony was
Conferring degrees at the 1 p.m. ceremony were again for the
Hargrove School, Dr. Wood; Assistant Professor and Director of Bible
and Theology Studies, Dr. Trevor Cochell; Academic Dean, Lincoln
Christian Seminary, Dr. Dinelle Frankland; and Professor of Church
History/Historical Theology, Dr. Robert Rea.
Miriam Windham, Professor and Director of TESOL, presented bookmarks
to the graduates.
The presentation of towel and basin, symbols of service in ministry,
was conducted by Dr. Nolan Thomas, Assistant Professor of Clinical
Mental Health Counseling and Dr. Barney Wells, Director of Doctor of