|Dr. John Chowning, center, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president at Campbellsville University, spoke at the baccalaureate service recently for Simmons College of Kentucky graduates. From left are: the Rev. Geoffrey Ellis, pastor of Asbury Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church, Louisville; the Rev. Thomas Baker, second vice moderator, Central District Baptist Association; the Rev. Bernard Crayton, first vice moderator, General Association of Baptists of Kentucky; Dr. Kevin Cosby, president of Simmons College of Kentucky; Dr. Brian J. Wells, vice president of academic affairs, Simmons College of Kentucky; Dr. Ralph Fitzpatrick, provost, Simmons College of Kentucky; and Dr. Frank M. Smith Jr., executive president/special assistant to the president, Simmons College of Kentucky. (Simmons College Photo by Gwen Blackburn)|
By Joan C. McKinney, news and publications coordinator
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – “My challenge to you, the Simmons College of Kentucky graduates of 2014, is that you will become people who will make a difference!” Dr. John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president of Campbellsville University, told the graduates at Simmons College of Kentucky May 17 during their baccalaureate service.
“God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. In the coming years, Christian people who are educated and who are committed to make a difference, will be in great demand. Remember to be a person of love, a person of integrity, a person who finishes and a person of faith,” he said.
Chowning told the graduates of the historic school of the relationship between Simmons College of Kentucky and Campbellsville University.
“At CU, we have been honored for the past several years to be covenant partners with Simmons College of Kentucky and with the General Association of Kentucky and the Central District Association of Baptists. We have been greatly blessed from these partnerships, and it is our prayer that we, on behalf of Campbellsville University, have made a meaningful contribution to these covenant partners.”
He said the academic year 2013-14 will be remembered as an eventful one when Simmons received national accreditation, “a status that is critical to the students gathered here today and one worthy of the long and rich history of Simmons as the first black university in Kentucky and one that has made many historic contributions to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the entire United States.”
He said federal financial aid is now available to Simmons students.
“Simmons is now poised to emerge as a major player in the higher education community of Louisville Metro and the Commonwealth of Kentucky and beyond. With recent foundation grants totaling $5.0 million from The Gheens and James Graham Brown Foundations, Simmons will be able to move forward with new academic programs – while fulfilling very well the historic mission of providing theological training – and becoming a major center of empowerment and encouragement in the west end of Louisville.”
He told the graduates they are a vital part of the most exciting periods in Simmons’ history. “God’s hand has been, and remains, upon Simmons College of Kentucky,” he said.
In urging the graduates to make a difference, Chowning told them to “be a person of love.” He quoted Paul who wrote: “If I have all…knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2).”
“Without love, nothing matters,” Chowning said. “Love is a choice — a decision to act in the best interest of others. It chooses to care with no thought of return.”
He told the graduates that being a person of integrity means “doing the right thing when no one is looking. It involves telling the truth, keeping your promises, fulfilling your obligations.”
Chowning said being a person of integrity may be the most difficult aspect of making a difference as momentary lapses in integrity are so easy and seemingly inconsequential at the time.
“Integrity involves telling the whole truth – not just part of the truth,” he said.
Chowning urged the graduates to be a person who finishes. “When difficulty is experienced, the easiest thing to do is quit,” Chowning said. “God wants us to win. He wants us to fight the good fight. He wants us to stay to the end in order to make a difference,” he said.
A person of faith was his last talking point, and Chowning quoted “I can do everything through him who gives me strength,” from Philippians 4:13.
He said those who established Simmons College of Kentucky more than a century ago were people of faith – they were also people of faith, people of integrity and people who finished.
He said, “Simmons College of Kentucky is poised to make a major difference in the life of this community, state and nation. It is exciting to be a witness to these times for Simmons College, and each of you is poised to go forth from this place to make a difference in your respective field of service in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,600 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master’s degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.