Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2008-05-06

The newest graduates of Samford University's Beeson Divinity School were advised that the point of their ministry is to love God and to love their people.

"The most important thing in life is that we love because He first loved us," Beeson professor Dr. Fisher Humphreys told the graduates during divinity school commencement on May 6.

"The meaning of our lives is to love God and our neighbors. This is also the meaning of your ministries," said Humphreys, basing his message on scripture from I John 4: 7-21.

In their ministry, Humphreys said, the graduates cannot love their neighbor as a substitute for loving God, and vice versa. In verse 20, he said, John wrote that "we cannot love God who is invisible if we fail to love our neighbors who are visible."

Humphreys retires this year after almost 40 years engaged in theological education, the last 18 of them at Beeson.

The ceremony in Andrew Hodges Chapel was combined with the divinity school's traditional consecration service for new graduates. In the special time of blessing, each faculty member prays quietly for each new graduate.

"In this Holy moment, we commit each student to the service of our Lord and Savior," explained Beeson dean Dr. Timothy George.

Beeson awarded 16 Master of Divinity degrees, four Master of Theological Studies degrees and three Doctor of Ministry degrees.

For the first time, Beeson graduation was held separately from ceremonies for other Samford graduates. After 18 years of holding spring graduation exercises in downtown Birmingham, Samford has moved all graduation programs back to campus.

Commencement for graduates of other Samford academic units will be held at various times on Friday and Saturday, May 16-17.

In addition, Samford president Andrew Westmoreland will host a reception for all graduates on the campus quadrangle May 16, 4-5:30 p.m. The baccalaureate service will follow at 6 p.m. in Wright Center. Dr. Humphreys will deliver the sermon.

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.