Mount Union Holds 169th Baccalaureate Service

May 09, 2015

By Abigail Esposito

ALLIANCE, Ohio – Amidst the awe, excitement and celebration on Saturday, May 9, the Peterson Field House of the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex was serene as the University of Mount Union held its 169th Baccalaureate service. 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. Rev. Dr. Kenneth W. Chalker, who serves as senior pastor at the University Circle United Methodist Church in downtown Cleveland, gave the sermon, “Woven into Fire.”

“In our wildest dreams we are here.”

Chalker began by emphasizing the importance of cultivating one’s soul.

“A soul is the essence of your personality, passions and everything that makes you uniquely you,” Chalker said. “I believe that it is absolutely essential to cultivate that soul, that you always have a sense of self and a regard for the fire of your life and for the fire in others.”

Then he illustrated how everyone is woven into the fire of their passions, talents and paths of others in the world.

“The fire within us warms the world; we have to cultivate this belief so that we do not burn the world down and do not leave yourself vulnerable to the idea that only you matter.”

Sharing how he was inspired by a story from one of the graduates, he explained how significant it is to care for yourself and to be the answer to others’ prayers throughout your life.

“It is imperative that you are an answer to a desperate prayer in addition to your own achievements,” Chalker said. “You have purpose, never let the world sap you out of your gift because you are an answer to someone’s desperate prayer with your hopes and talent and you are right at the center of God’s wildest dream.”

A graduate of Garrett-ETS at Northwestern University, Duke University Divinity School and Mount Union, Chalker resides in Westlake, Ohio with his wife Grace. They have two grown children, Laura and Wayne, and a grandson and granddaughter.

Twice named one of Cleveland’s most interesting people by Cleveland Magazine, Chalker is an active participant in the life of the City of Cleveland. He serves on the boards of several community organizations including University Circle Inc., the Cleveland Orchestra Community Relations Committee, NCCJ (National Conference for the Community Justice) and the Board of Trustees of the University of Mount Union. A graduate of Leadership Cleveland, Chalker is deeply committed to the welfare of the community as a whole and specifically to the needs of the city’s children.

An enthusiastic and inspirational public speaker, Chalker is also an accomplished and published writer, former radio and television commentator and recipient of the Cleveland Advertising Club’s “Outstanding Communication Achievement of the Year” award.

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 Joshua Scott, a senior physical education major of Hamilton, Ohio. The Old Testament reading was given by senior art and religious studies major Wilma Levengood of New Philadelphia, Ohio and the prayer was given by Brad Linerode, a senior civil engineering major of Uniontown, Ohio. The scripture reading was given by Megan Clevenger, senior history and religious studies major of Uniontown, Ohio and Adam Lundberg, senior middle childhood education major of Louisville, Ohio. The song leader for Baccalaureate was Taylor Nervo, senior biology major of Louisville, Ohio.

Following the sermon, Dr. Richard F. Giese, president of the University, led the Seniors’ Prayer and university chaplain Marty Cashburless gave the Benediction.

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