From left: Mike Evans, MaryBeth Moore, and Bob Michalides hold their degrees after the Commencement Walk on Saturday, May 8. They were among 16 graduates of Eastern Mennonite Seminary. (Photos by Rachel Holderman)

Seminary celebrates 2021 graduates

Eastern Mennonite Seminary celebrated the graduation of 16 students earning Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Religion, and Master of Arts in Christian Leadership degrees and the graduate certificate in Christian Leadership. 

Coming from different denominational backgrounds and returning to ministry and work with new credentials, the group’s experiences and various gifts were honored during Saturday afternoon’s Baccalaureate ceremony. View the ceremony at EMU’s Facebook Live page [you do not need an account to view.]

Graduates were also offered the opportunity to participate in an in-person Commencement walk on Saturday, May 1. EMU’s official Commencement ceremony was online Sunday, May 9. [Both ceremonies can be viewed at EMU’s Commencement webpage.]

From left: Seminary graduates who participated in the May 1 Commencement Walk: Carrie Moffitt, Mike Evans, MaryBeth Moore, Bob Michalides, Mark Stancil, Carmen Miller, Joanna Friesen, Tho Ncube, Amber Baker, Dawn Reidy

MA in Christian Leadership

  • Mark Stancil, Stephens City, Virginia

MA in Religion

  • William Jones, Broadway, Virginia
  • Joel Nofziger, Ephrata, Pennsylvania

Master of Divinity

  • Amber Baker, Morgantown, West Virginia
  • Ryan Cobb, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • William Evans, Lignum, Virginia
  • Joanna Friesen, Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • Paul Merchant, Lexington, Virginia
  • Robert Michalides, Lynchburg, Virginia
  • Carmen Miller, Rockingham, Virginia
  • Carrie Moffitt, Staunton, Virginia
  • MaryBeth Heatwole Moore, Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • Dawn Reidy, Bunker Hill, West Virginia
  • Emily Tolbert, North Dinwiddie, Virginia
  • Lori Witmer, Newville, Pennsylvania

Graduate Certificate in Christian Studies

  • Shirley LaVerne Steward-Jones, Harrisonburg, Virginia

More on the Baccalaureate Ceremony

The Baccalaureate ceremony, with a theme selected by the graduates of “Drawn by Love: Jesus Calls Us,”  included a scripture reading, musical selections, benediction and a commissioning.

Dean Sue Cockley welcomed the gathered and thanked those watching for their support for students. “It takes a lot of people, a community really,” she said, “to get each seminary student to this happy milestone.” The theme that the graduates had selected was especially appropriate to the tumult of the year, she noted, calling to mind lines of the hymn “Jesus Calls to Us, O’er the Tumult”: Jesus calls us o’er the tumult of our life’s wild, restless sea / Day by day his sweet voice soundeth, saying “Christian, follow me.”

Nancy Heisey, associate dean and professor of biblical studies, gave the main address on the theme “Of Panic and Love,” both being part of the full human experience and that which links us with Jesus and the Father:

So, John’s gospel starts out with “God becomes us,” and ends up with “you, the new humans, are going to be me.” Maybe you think I’m pushing that latter part of the equation a bit too far. But I offer that ordinary women and men have been called into love by Jesus, and sent as the Father sent Jesus. Throughout the centuries they have stared down the ruler of this world with their true humanity. They have experienced panic—not just the sudden terror of one event, but the long terror of the power that seeks to destroy God’s creation. But they and we are one with the One who has conquered the world.

Participants in the ceremony also included Courtney Joyner, UMC liaison and instructor, musical prelude and postlude;  current seminarian Caleb Schrock-Hurst and Perry Blosser, hymns; Joanna Friesen, graduate, invocation, Carrie Moffit, graduate, the scripture reading. Bob Michalides, the class vice president, introduced the speaker.

Professors Andrea Saner and David Evans anointed and blessed the graduates. Kevin Clark, assistant professor and seminary pastor, and Sarah Ann Bixler, incoming associate dean and professor, provided the commissioning.