Published on April 27, 2024 by Neal Embry  
Spring Graduation 24 03

Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School celebrated spring commencement on April 26, awarding degrees to 22 students and praying over them as they continue to follow God’s call on their lives.

Six students received a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, while 16 students received a Master of Divinity. The service represented the final commencement ceremonies for retiring Beeson professors Robert Smith Jr. and Mike Pasquarello.

Justin Hardin, vice president for academic affairs and professor of biblical studies at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas, delivered the commencement sermon, reminding graduates their ministry depends on the Lord.

Preaching from Exodus 3:1-10, where Moses encounters God in the burning bush, Hardin said the temptations Moses struggled with are the same temptations ministers might face in view of God’s call.

Upon receiving God’s call, it can be tempting to start with us, Hardin said. As Moses asked, “Who am I?” so Christians might ask when they receive instruction from the Lord. But when God calls us, it’s about His presence, not our ability, Hardin said.

It can also be a temptation to anchor ministry in something other than God, questioning His ability, Hardin said.

“Our ministry is anchored in His name and redemptive plan,” Hardin said.

Ministers can often judge success by statistics, wondering if those who hear them will believe them, as Moses did, and they can often focus on their gifts or limitations, instead of trusting the Lord to accomplish His work and make them ready for what He has called them to do, Hardin said.

“You’re not ready-made,” Hardin said. “He makes you ready.”

Finally, there is the temptation to believe what God has called ministers to do is optional, Hardin said. When Moses asked God to send someone else, God told him that He had already sent Aaron to him, and to take his staff and get moving.

“God’s already ahead of you,” Hardin said. “You just have to show up.”

This semester’s graduates are:

Master of Arts in Theological Studies:

  • Luke Jared Buttram
  • Caroline Johnson Chong
  • Caleb Joseph Hallsten
  • Alex David Long
  • Yer Thao
  • Sydney Lynne Tucker

Master of Divinity:

  • Hannah Price Adams
  • John Spencer Adams
  • Kathleen Elizabeth Bass
  • Hayden Axon Michael Betsill*
  • Andrew Scott Bush
  • Jesse Alan Carr
  • Hutton Scott Cate*
  • Morgan Elizabeth Champion
  • Miranda Joy Cox
  • Daniel Joel Edwards
  • Matthew Cole Frier
  • Jonathan Morris Hartley
  • Joshua Monroe Hedrick
  • William Keith Lewis
  • James-Michael John Pawlik
  • Leopold Andrew Wenzler

*These students also received a missions certificate

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.