The Baccalaureate Service is a fitting custom of Reinhardt University, combining tradition and the last opportunity to incorporate faith into the lives of its students as they spread their wings, degree in hand.
Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson, episcopal leader of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, delivered the sermon May 2 in Flint Hall at Falany Performing Arts Center, impressing upon students the importance of listening to God.
The bishop – a self-declared planner – told the students that she once felt the need to have everything planned out. “So, when someone asks me where I will be in 30 years, I can accurately answer.” She added, that answer ended up being wrong.
She shared that when she had the big house, the fancy car and all the nice things, she found herself miserable. She had been following her plan, not God’s plan. It was when she listened that she found her true calling into ministry.
“Life is not about success and life is not about solitude. When God calls you, He will call you to use your gift to others for the greater. God will call you to live beyond yourself…live out your vocation to service to the Lord,” she said. “I pray that you will have lives that are true callings and you will allow God to speak into your life. Jesus Christ desires nothing more than to be your companion in your journey.”
The Baccalaureate Service is a medieval tradition, including the custom of presenting candidates for the degree of bachelor (bacci) with the laurels (lauri) of sermonic oration. In modern times, the Baccalaureate serves as a farewell address in the form of a sermon, given to the graduating class as they are sent on to their next ventures, and is a tradition maintained by Reinhardt as an institution of faith.