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Grads, families attend Baccalaureate Service

May 8, 2009 : Eric Brown

The Rev. Jerry Thorpe, a member of Liberty's Board of Trustees, is Pastor Emeritus at Temple Baptist Church in Odessa, Texas.

Members of Liberty University’s 2009 graduating class and their families filled the Thomas Road Baptist Church sanctuary on Friday night for the 36th Baccalaureate.

Dr. Harold Willmington, dean of Liberty’s Willmington School of the Bible, opened the service with an invocation. After the prayer, Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. welcomed those in attendance and explained the Baccalaureate’s significance.

“The ultimate purpose of Liberty University is for its graduates to know Christ and make Him known,” he said. “That is why this is the most important of all the commencement ceremonies here at Liberty.”

During the service, Provost Boyd Rist, along with Falwell and Vice Chancellor Ronald Godwin, presented an honorary doctorate of humanities to the service’s speaker, the Rev. Jerry Thorpe. Duke Westover, a lifetime supporter of Jerry Falwell Ministries, also received an honorary doctorate for his years of service in ministry.

Moments later, Thorpe took the podium, delivering a message of encouragement to the 2009 graduates. Thorpe, Pastor Emeritus of Temple Baptist Church in Odessa, Texas and Liberty Board of Trustees member, addressed the importance of overcoming life’s challenges. Using the biblical accounts of Gideon, Moses and the Apostle Paul, the speaker noted the three men conquered overwhelming odds through their abundant faith in God.

“I’m not challenging you tonight to go forth tomorrow and make Liberty University proud,” he said. “But I am challenging you to go from this great school and make Jesus Christ proud.”

The service closed with music from the Sounds of Liberty, the singing of the Alma Mater and a prayer of benediction by Dr. Ergun Caner, Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.

Commencement exercises begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at Williams Stadium.