Speakers challenge listeners at Tabor graduation

Words of challenge were offered to 134 graduates-and their family and friends from across the country-during Tabor College commencement Saturday.

In her invocation to open the program, Janice Schroeder of Inman, a Tabor College Wichita senior class representative, said: “Let us, dear Heavenly Father, be reminded that knowledge comes from learning, but wisdom comes from you. Make us good stewards of the talents, education and blessings you have given us so that we may be a blessing to others.”

Brian Mowry of Olathe began his senior address by saying that as his feeling of privilege for being selected to give the address evolved into anxiety and impending doom, he tried to remember every TV show and movie he had seen that had a graduation scene in it.

“I figured I could find a scene that would point me in the right direction or at least give me an opening line,” he said.

Mowry cleared his throat and said: “So here it is. I walked onto this campus four years ago a boy. Now, four years later, I leave a boy.”

As the audience laughed and applauded, he asked a serious question: What makes Tabor special? His conclusion: the relationships between professors, students and God.

“These relationships are what makes Tabor a great place,” he said. “It’s not the buildings or the academic programs. It’s the professors that give up their Friday nights to serve us at our (senior) dinner, it’s the friends that will listen to you and it’s the way God uses all these experiences to lead you to him.

“There’s no other place I would have wanted to spend my last four years.”

Tabor College Wichita senior class representative Jeff Greco challenged not only the graduates, but everyone present, to make a choice of how they can be successful and be different.

“I think we need to ask ourselves, ‘What will I be successful at?’ and ‘What am I going to achieve?’ I believe the world will tell you that success is measured in dollars and that success is measured in personal achievement. But I don’t believe that to be the case.”

He emphasized that everyone knows someone with troubles, and that person needs hope and encouragement.

“I think true leaders present options to people when they didn’t believe they had any,” Greco said. “I think true leaders can light fires under people with nothing but their own imagination and passion for fuel. I think true leaders can empower the hopeless.

“My prayer is that we’ll all decide to use our gifts to make a difference,” he added. “My hope is that we will all try to be brokers of the alternative to what the world has to offer. And I want each and every one of us to remember that power is in numbers, and each and every one of us that decides to focus a part of our lives on someone else will multiply exponentially the goodness that is in this world.”

Jim Holm, dean of students and director of constituency relations at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Fresno, Calif., spoke on the topic “Soul Food” during his commencement address.

Holm said that the Scripture reading for his message, Luke 6:12-19, outlined a day in the life of Jesus Christ. Christ prayed during the night, called his 12 disciples during the morning and taught, healed and cast out evil spirits in the afternoon.

Holm labeled the night “solitude,” morning “community” and afternoon “ministry.”

“Ministry involves speaking and listening,” Holm said. “And so you will go from here and listen to people. And in listening to them, you will give them the dignity of who they are, and then you will give them a word that will touch their life, that perhaps will correct or direct or encourage in some way. Ministry is not only teaching; it is not only listening. It is compassion.”

Ministry, he said, is founded upon community. And it is in solitude that God lays it upon people’s hearts.

“Solitude, community, ministry-the key to the life of Jesus, the key to our life as well,” he concluded.

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