Posted by Philip Poole on 2009-05-06

Finding spiritual empowerment is critical for ministry success, the 22 graduates of Samford University's Beeson Divinity School were told May 6 during a commencement and consecration service.

Bishop James L. Davis of the 9th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church used a story from the ninth chapter of Mark's Gospel to illustrate the importance of not "misrepresenting the Master" in ministry. Davis said too many Christians today have failed to find spiritual empowerment and relied instead on personal and material things.

The man with the demon-possessed child in Mark's Gospel represents the church and its problems, Davis added. "The church has a lot of stuff – hymnals, choirs, organs, Bibles, preachers – but it often has no power because it relies on stuff' to tell the Gospel message."

Davis encouraged the graduates not to forget to "spend time with the Master because someone with problems will come to you" and you must have the empowerment to deal with those problems.

Included in the spring class were four master of theological studies degree students, 13 master of divinity students and five doctor of ministry graduates. D.Min. recipient Condy Ames Richardson of Sumter, S.C., was the third member of his family to receive a doctorate from Beeson Divinity School. Earlier, his brothers Wyman in 2004 and David in 2008, received D.Min. degrees.

Continuing a longstanding tradition, faculty members prayed individually for each graduate after the conferring of degrees.

The ceremony was the first of six such ceremonies scheduled in the next week at Samford.

Samford to Graduate 822 During May Commencements

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.