Lyonses to Participate in Baccalaureate

May 10, 2013

ALLIANCE, Ohio — The Rev. Dr. Ivory Lyons, professor of philosophy and religious studies, and his wife Barbara Lyons, director of Inspirational Voices of Praise and secretary for academic affairs, will play unique roles in the University of Mount Union’s Baccalaureate service on Saturday.

Ivory Lyons will give the sermon during the service and Barbara Lyons will lead the Inspirational Voices of Praise (IVOP) in providing music for the service.

Ivory Lyons has worked at Mount Union since 2000 and Barbara Lyons since 2001 and each are involved on campus in various capacities. Ivory Lyons teaches a number of religion courses as well as teaches in the Africana Studies Program. He has served as a guest lecturer at Christ University in Bangalore, India and the University of Ghana in West Africa. Barbara has been director of IVOP since 2001.

Ivory Lyons’ sermon, titled, “Rise to the Occasion,” got its name after he noticed shirts worn by basketball players during the NCAA Final Four in March. He will speak from the passage 1 Timothy 4:11-16, which is a charge from the writer, Apostle Paul, to a young disciple, Timothy, to not let anyone look down on him because of his age but to be an example for others.

He chose the verse in part due to it being one of the first Bible verses he remembers learning as he came to his faith as a young man and partly due to its message.

“I’m going to talk about why it’s important for graduates to be good examples and to rise to the occasion,” he said. “I need to plant seeds where they can begin to think about how to pattern their lives.”

Ivory Lyons said he has often thought about what he would say to students if he had the opportunity to give them a message and now he has the chance to do just that.

“I consider it an honor to be speaking to the future generation,” Ivory Lyons said. “I have a lot of respect for Mount Union graduates. Alumni are an outstanding group who put the needs of the community first and show their support in many ways.”

For Barbara Lyons, this performance at Baccalaureate will be her final event before retiring from the directorship of IVOP.

“I’ve enjoyed working with the students, helping them to see their potential and possibility and encouraging those who have never done solo work before but needed someone to believe enough in them so they can believe in themselves,” she said.

IVOP is a student organization where members of the student body, staff, faculty and community-at-large are welcome. The organization’s mission is to initiate spiritual connections to many traditions and promote spiritual growth. IVOP is particularly known for singing gospel music from the African American tradition.

“Through this ministry, where there is suffering we give joy, where there is despair we offer hope, where there is doubt we instigate faith,” the mission statement reads.

Barbara Lyons said she has enjoyed watching IVOP grow and improve each semester. Each year, the group has two performances on campus and the remaining performances are off campus. One of those performances is always community service oriented. The group has performed at nursing homes, hospitals and most recently at the Indian River Juvenile Correctional Facility in Massillon, OH where they sang to inmates and spoke to them about college life.

“For me, I wanted students to understand how extremely privileged they are even though many have struggles,” she said. “I wanted them to see what it would be like to have your every waking moment orchestrated. Both sides came away from the experience being impressed in some way and our students got to see what a blessing they could be to other people.”

The Lyons’ have ministered together on numerous occasions, however, Baccalaureate is one of the few events they haven’t intentionally planned that way.

“That makes this kind of a special day for us,” Ivory said. “We both have invested in the students – Baccalaureate and Commencement are a time when we can see the investments made by faculty, staff members and parents and it’s a new beginning.”

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