New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary celebrated its largest graduating class in its 95-year history with a total of 389.
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Leavell College, the seminary's undergraduate program, held its commencement ceremony May 11, graduating 235. The graduate program commencement on May 12 issued 154 master's and doctoral degrees.
The school's previous high graduation mark was 367 in May 2005.
The students who received degrees during the two commencement ceremonies offered a snapshot of the New Orleans Seminary's identity and commitment to making theological training accessible to as many men and women as possible, regardless of where they live.
NOBTS President Chuck Kelley focused on that commitment to reach people where they are.
"We are the people who go," Kelley said. "We are NOBTS."
Of the 235 Leavell College graduates, 145 were students from NOBTS training sites in Cayes, Port-au-Prince and Port-de-Paix, Haiti. In addition, the seminary issued two associate's and one bachelor's degree to students in its Louisiana State Penitentiary program.
NOBTS has partnered with the Florida Baptist Convention to provide ministry training in Haiti since early 2004, teaching courses in the students' heart language of French Creole. Many of the graduates were impacted by the deadly January 2010 earthquake that caused significant damage to Haiti's capital city of Port-au-Prince and surrounding communities.
Inseparable from New Orleans Seminary's mission is its location, Kelley said.
"It is typical whenever a denomination establishes a seminary [for them to put it] in a place surrounded by large numbers of [churches] where the graduates will serve," Kelley said. "But we are NOBTS, and they put us in the most un-Baptist place on the planet."
SOURCE: Baptist Press
Frank Michael McCormack