In a service whose tradition is rooted in the Medieval university, Midwestern Seminary inaugurated the Spring Semester with an Academic Convocation in the campus’ Daniel Lee Chapel on Jan. 24.
The term convocation stems from the Latin for “calling together;” thus, it is a formal academic gathering for a special purpose. Key aspects of the modern convocation service, including the assembly of faculty, the processional, and the academic dress all date back to the early university in the Medieval period.
A special aspect of the spring “calling together” for the Midwestern Seminary community was the signing of the school’s Articles of Faith.
President Jason Allen noted that faculty members elected at Midwestern Seminary undergo an extremely thorough and rigorous process. The signing of the Articles of Faith is a ceremony and a celebration, but also a time of commitment to the confessional statements to which the institution adheres.
“The act of signing these Articles of Faith is more than a ceremony,” Allen said. “It is something much deeper and more profound. It is a solemn commitment before these trustees, this faculty, these students, and most importantly, before the Lord, to teach in in concert with, and not contrary to, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.”
During the service, one newly-elected faculty member signed the Articles of Faith: Kenette Harder, who serves as director of Library Services and associate professor of Library and Information Sciences. Harder has served at Midwestern Seminary since January of 2015.
Following the signing of the Articles of Faith, Allen brought a keynote message from Mark 1:14-20, entitled, “Follow Me and I Will Make You Fishers of Men.”
Allen noted that the message’s intent was to reflect on Jesus’ calling of these four disciples, as it is representative or symbolic of the call to all of his disciples, as well as the calling that the service’s congregants feel today.
In breaking down the passage, Allen said there are three distinct observations to note: the team that Jesus assembled; the call Jesus extended; and the response Jesus received.
In assembling his team of disciples, Allen explained, it is important to note that these men were every day, ordinary people. Simon, Andrew, James, and John were all hardworking, industrious men, but were not particularly religiously qualified like the Pharisees or other religious leaders of the day. Jesus was looking for something else from them, as well as from those he calls to ministry today.
“Jesus, after all, was not after their credentials and certainly not after their legalism,” Allen said. “He was after their hearts. He was after those who were committed to following him…. Jesus chooses, again and again, to call ordinary people to do extraordinary work.
“This is instructive for us as well because the church is so often after better methods, but Jesus is after better men. By better I mean in their passion, energy, and their true conviction and devotion to Him.”
Allen added that there may be people who wonder if God could use a person, like them, with a rough past, limited abilities, and little-to-no experience. Responding to that thought process, he said, “Not only can God use people like that, that is precisely the only type of person God will use.”
Discussing the call Jesus extended, Allen said it was personal, unconditional and evangelical in nature. In saying “Follow me,” the call was for them to know, love, worship, obey, serve, and cherish Christ. This is all within the purview of being a disciple.
Additionally, Allen said, “These men were called in an unconditional way that would lead them to leave their families for a work that was not only dangerous but often distant. Sounds like a call to missions to me.”
In his final point, Allen explained the response Jesus received from the disciples.
Allen asked, “What would you have done?” “What would I have done?” if this man, Jesus, said, “Follow me.”
These men’s response was immediate. They left their nets, jumped out of the boat, cut their losses, and they went, Allen noted. “They followed him, and their lives would never be the same.”
“These men did something. They dropped their nets and followed him. I trust this is a story—a narrative—that each one of us to some degree identifies with.”
Allen concluded saying, “If I had a thousand lives to live, I would want to live every one as a servant of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Not merely based upon the eternal reward that is mine, but additionally based upon the joy that is mine currently as I get to serve him.
The address is available to watch at this link.