Dear MTS Community,
As we gathered last Saturday for our 2020 and 2021 commencement at MTS, I pondered how the word ‘commencement’ really encompassed the day’s celebrations. While a graduation might recognize an ending, a commencement celebrates all the new beginnings embodied by that word. 

It certainly is appropriate that we held this festive occasion shortly after Ascension Sunday. Ascension is a time that could be seen as the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry. But in a profound way, the Ascension marked a new beginning, a time when the disciples would continue in ministry in the name of their Lord Jesus Christ, equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Even as their teacher was leaving, and they were no longer His students, they were already beginning to live out what the great teacher had shared with them. One of the lasting lessons from that first graduating class of the Christian Church was their response to the Ascension. Luke 24: 52-53 tells us that they “worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they stayed continually at the temple praising God.”  

At commencement, I encouraged and offered our graduates a charge to embody that faith-filled response of the disciples. As their education at MTS has ended, may our graduates remain people of worship. In the busy-ness of ministry, meetings, pastoral care, and preparing sermons, may they continually seek to embrace and celebrate Sabbath, keeping worship the highest purpose of their ministry. It is in continuing to be people of worship—even in our ministry leadership—that we, like the disciples, will continually know the joy of our salvation. 

In closing, I offer my admiration and congratulations to our recent graduates. I am inspired by their perseverance as we emerge from a challenging year that required reimagining everything from the classroom to the sanctuary to our commencement ceremony. May God bless all of our graduates as they transition to this new beginning in life and ministry. 

With deepest gratitude and prayerful blessings,
Rev. Dr. Jody Hill