Mount Union Holds 168th Baccalaureate Service
May 10, 2014
ALLIANCE, Ohio — The University of Mount Union held its 168th Baccalaureate service on Saturday, May 10 in the Peterson Field House of the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex. The service preceded the University’s Commencement ceremony.
The student-organized worship service featured scripture readings, hymns and performances by the University’s concert choir. Bishop John L. Hopkins, who serves on the episcopacy in the Ohio East Area, gave the sermon, “Living for God.”
Hopkins began by sharing advice with the graduating seniors that he was given as he prepared for the Baccalaureate service. He told them not to forget that we are all in the same boat, which he compared to the Ark. He advised not to listen to the critics, but to do what has to be done.
As he continued to compare the Ark to life, Hopkins reminded the graduates, “Just remember, the Ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic was built by professionals.”
Hopkins said that for some people, graduation is about individual achievements. But as he spoke about the movie “Shenandoah,” he told the graduates that they must not forget to be thankful and grateful to the Lord.
“A life lived well, is a life lived with God and for God,” Hopkins said.
He continued to discuss a recent video that he saw which portrayed the hardships being faced in Africa. He said that he bought into it, but later learned that Africa was able to help him more than he was able to help Africa.
“It is Africa that has taught me that possessions in my hands will never be as valuable as peace in my heart,” he said.
He then continued to talk about Africa, and told a story of people dancing and children playing games with a ball tied of trash. He used this to remind those in attendance that happiness does not depend upon worldly possessions.
Finally, Hopings talked about a recent social experiment by the Washington Post in which world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell played a $3.5 million violin in a D.C. metro station. The people walking through were in such a hurry that they did not stop to listen to Bell play several incredibly complex pieces. The purpose of the experiment was to determine whether people recognize beauty and recognize talent in an unexpected context.
“If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the finest musicians playing some of the finest music ever written on a violin worth $3.5 million, how many other things are we missing?” he said. “Loving God means paying close attention to what is going on around you. We can love God and others only when we slow down to enjoy what is around us.”
Hopkins earned a Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University. He completed a two-year Wheelock Residency in hospital, campus and parish ministry at the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College where he served as Protestant Chaplain at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Hanover, NH. He was ordained deacon in 1972 and elder in 1975 at the North Indiana Conference. In 1996, he was elected to the episcopacy by the North Central Jurisdiction and served on numerous boards of directors, including the University of Mount Union. Hopkins was named by the Council of Bishops to serve as chair of The Connectional Table, helped develop the “Four Areas of Focus” and participated in “A Call to Action” that through extensive research discovered the critical need to increase the number of vital congregations by developing leaders and aligning resources across the church.
During the worship service, the Mount Union Concert Choir, under the direction of Dr. Grant Cook, associate professor of music and director of choral activities, performed several numbers. The invocation was given by Kathryn Proch, a senior religious studies major of Canfield, OH. The Old Testament reading was given by senior exercise science major Chelsey Bruce of Cuyahoga Falls, OH and the epistle reading was given by Christopher Bowles, a senior political science major of Solon, OH. The gospel reading was given by Kimberly Dorka, senior education major of Chardon, OH and song leader was Sean Eppler, senior music education major of Mentor, OH.
Following the sermon, Dr. Richard F. Giese, president of the University, lead the Seniors’ Prayer.