Nazarene Theological Seminary held its 66th commencement on Sunday, May 13, at 4:00pm at Kansas City (MO) First Church of the Nazarene. The 45 graduates of the Class of 2012 received degrees as follows: 6 Doctor of Ministry; 28 Master of Divinity; 2 M.A. in Christian Formation and Discipleship; 3 M.A. in Intercultural Studies; and 6 M.A. (Theological Studies). 10 students earned additional diplomas or certificates along with their degrees; 6 students earned diplomas or certificates not in conjunction with a degree. This class represented 9 countries: Bulgaria, Cameroon, England, Kenya, Malawi, Samoa, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States.
Earlier on Sunday morning, also at KC First Church, Rev. Stephanie Lobdell represented her class by preaching the Corlett Senior Sermon. The late Mr. Eric A. Mabes, a prominent Kansas City Realtor, established the Corlett Senior Sermon Award in the interest of developing an incentive for more effective preaching. He sponsored the award from 1945 to 1966. In 1966, Dr. and Mrs. L. T. Corlett, as a symbol of their continuing interest in the future ministry of the church, assumed the sponsorship of this award. For many years, until the time of his passing in 2009, Mr. Wes Blachly provided the necessary funding to continue this annual celebration of preaching.
Dr. Jesse C. Middendorf, General Superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene, delivered the commencement address. Dr. Middendorf was chosen for the highest elected office in the church at the 25th General Assembly at Indianapolis, Indiana, in June 2001, after serving for ten years as senior pastor of First Church of the Nazarene of Kansas City, Missouri.
Dr. Jesse Middendorf was born in Nashville, Tennessee. He has been preaching since age 16, was first district licensed while a student at Trevecca Nazarene College (now University) on the Tennessee District, and ordained an elder in the Church of the Nazarene in 1969 on that district. He received his BA degree from Trevecca Nazarene University in 1965 and his MDiv degree from Nazarene Theological Seminary in 1968. In 1989 Southern Nazarene University conferred upon him the doctor of divinity degree. He earned a doctor of ministry degree from Nazarene Theological Seminary in 1999.
He has pastored Nazarene churches in Clarksville, Tennessee; Ashland, Kentucky; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Richardson, Texas; and Kansas City, Missouri. During the years 1985-1991 he was superintendent of the Northwest Oklahoma District Church of the Nazarene.
In addition to the commencement ceremony, the weekend was full of various graduation events, including a special graduate chapel on Saturday morning, the graduates’ induction into the NTS Alumni Association, and an all-seminary reception on Saturday afternoon. After the reception, members of the NTS Classes of 1952, 1962, 1972, 1982, 1987, 1992, 2002, and 2007 were honored at a reunion lunch.
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