Wingate University’s Class of 2018 got a chance to thank their mentors and received some sound advice on how to take a “Guided Tour of an Abundant Life” Friday morning at the University’s Baccalaureate Service.

A group of 60 people sing on stage.

Students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the University formed a choir to help give the class of 2018 a proper send-off during Baccalaureate.

More than 90 members of the faculty and staff were presented with Mentor Medallions as they entered McGee Theatre inside Wingate’s Batte Center. They also received written commendations from students who nominated them for the honor.

In her sermon, the Rev. Amy Jacks Dean, of Park Road Baptist in Charlotte, highlighted the role of mentors through the Acts 8 story of Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch.

Hearing the Ethiopian read from Isaiah, the apostle Philip asked a good question, Dean said: “Do you understand what you are reading?” She said the man’s response, a request for a mentor, was also a wise one: “How can I, unless someone guides me?”

Dean told the rest of the story of Philip’s explaining the gospel and the Ethiopian’s conversion and baptism, after which the scripture says Philip was “snatched away.”

“Graduation is a bit of a snatching,” Dean said. “Your mentors are snatched away as you leave this place.”

Even so, she encouraged students to follow the Ethiopian’s lead by going on their way rejoicing in their newfound knowledge, even as their guides, like Philip, return to their work of spreading good news.

Calling the crowd’s attention to Paul’s words to Timothy regarding what he had learned from his mother and grandmother, Dean told students to “hold to the standard of sound teaching” and to “guard the good treasure entrusted to you.”

“You are going to be someone else’s Lois, Eunace or Philip,” she said.

Dean’s message followed inspiring words from graduating seniors Ghana Bedwan and Isaac Aning.

An African student hugs a caucasian professor.

Graduate Isaac Aning greets professor Greg Bell during the Farewell Celebration prior to Friday’s Baccalaureate.

A Muslim biology major headed to medical school this summer, Bedwan said she found Wingate’s environment welcoming and that she appreciated the conversations about faith she was able to have with Christian classmates and with professors. She took advantage of her time during the Baccalaureate to explain her wearing of the hijab and the often misunderstood meaning of “jihad,” a word she defined as the spiritual struggle to live out one’s faith.

Aning, a native of Ghana who gained a reputation for kindness by holding doors for faculty and students on a daily basis and greeting them with his trademark smile, challenged the crowd to serve others willingly and without ulterior motives.

“Throughout my four years of holding doors at Wingate I have found brothers from other mothers, sisters from other fathers, parents from other cultures,” Aning declared, acknowledging fellow students from all over the world.

He saved his highest salute for Greg Bell, associate math professor, whom he said inspired him to begin his daily door-opening ritual.

Graduates received a musical salute from a 60-plus-member choir formed especially for Baccalaureate and made up of students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends of the University. Under the direction of Kenney Potter, chair of Wingate’s music department, the group sang “Be Thou My Vision” and led the crowd in the Wingate Alma Mater.

May 11, 2018