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14 July 2016 | Binfield, UK [Judith Makaninkhondo]  Over 300 guests gathered to witness the academic success of 40 students at the Newbold College of Higher Education Awards Ceremony on Sunday, 10 July. Graduands included 16 from the United Kingdom, 20 from across Europe, and one each from Russia, Kenya, Guam and Brazil.

The Ceremony also witnessed the first cohort of students to complete under the College's new partnership with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Twenty graduands completed the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that Newbold offers in partnership with the University.

Pastor Ian SweeneyGuest speaker at the Ceremony, and himself a Newbold alumnus, Pastor Ian Sweeney also offered words of encouragement and pride to the students at a time that he recognised as being filled with great joy. As President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the UK & Ireland Sweeney challenged them: "Your families are proud of you as they shared in the trials and tribulations of every assignment you wrote and in the preparation for every examination," he added, "This is a day that you can remember and boast about."

It soon became apparent that it was a different kind of boasting that Sweeney was referring to. Having studied Greek during his theological training, Sweeney recalled the oral part of his Greek examination, which required him to translate a book of his choice from the New Testament. He chose an epistle of John rather than the apostle Paul because it was short, easy to memorise and John's use of the Greek language was not as scholarly.

"The writing of the educated apostle Paul showed a level of academic learning I did not share with him," Sweeney said. "Yet today, having avoided the apostle Paul thirty years ago as a student, I would like to share one verse of his testimony on glory and boasting: "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal 6:14 NIV)

2016 Graduating Class and staffSweeney said Paul could have boasted about his spiritual and Jewish heritage, as his background and attainments were far in excess of those of his opponents. He could have boasted about his conservatism and religious practice as a Pharisee, or that he was a University of Jerusalem graduate and had sat at the feet of Gamaliel, a great theological scholar of the time. He thus urged the graduands to follow in Paul's footsteps, and to only boast about the cross of Jesus, saying, "for it was indeed Paul's purpose to make the cross supreme in his life and ministry."

Sweeney also encouraged the graduands to live like Isaac Watts, who turned down an opportunity to study at Oxford University for religious reasons. Watts went on to virtually single-handedly introduce, develop and invent the hymn as we know it today. At the time of his death he had written in excess of 600 hymns.

Though directly addressing the graduands, Sweeney's message also touched many others in the audience with one guest commenting, "for me it reignited once more, what our lives, gifts and achievements are all about, that they are to the glory of the Lord."

Dr Daniel DudaAs the event drew towards a close, Dr Daniel Duda, Education Director for the Trans-European Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, charged the graduands "to live the life of the kingdom of God in this present world, to love God and your neighbour as the Lord commanded, to respond to the needs of others with all the skills, dedication and commitment that your alma mater represents."

Choni MiguelChoni Miguel, a Licence in Theology graduate, responded to the charge on behalf of the graduating students. "I hereby acknowledge the responsibilities laid upon us as alumni of Newbold College of Higher Education," he said. "We recognise with gratitude the skills which the College has enabled us to develop within the spiritual, academic and social spheres. In whatever walk of life we find ourselves, we hereby undertake to remain supportive of the ethos of the College and to remain true to the wonderful teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Manfred Lemke and Ellina MurgaCollege Principal, Dr John Baildam, who was unable to attend for health reasons nevertheless shared a message with the graduands read by Manfred Lemke, Newbold's Academic Registrar. "I join the Newbold faculty, staff, students, alumni, and all our guests in congratulating and wishing the graduands well." Undoubtedly the wider church community, family and friends would endorse that thought. [tedNEWS]

 For more graduation photos please visit the Newbold College picture gallery.


tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, director; Esti Pujic, editor

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