For Such a Time as This

June 28, 2019 0 comments

A Historic Graduating Class Is Challenged to Find Purpose & Go Boldly Into the Future

Before the weekend even began, Regent students, faculty and staff knew it would be historic. With more than 2,000 graduates set to receive associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, the Class of 2019 would be the university’s biggest ever — nearly 40% larger than the previous year.

Regent’s 39th Commencement Weekend kicked off Friday, May 10, with its eight schools of study holding commissioning services to pray over the graduates and hand out awards. 

Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson

It was a busy day for Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson, Regent’s founder, chancellor and CEO. He presented a tailored message for each commissioning service. Robertson told School of Communication & the Arts graduates how in 1960, God called him to Portsmouth, Virginia, with only $70 in his pocket, to buy a television station. He confessed, “I didn’t even own a television set!”

At the School of Business & Leadership’s commissioning service, Robertson shared how in 1975, the Lord worked miraculously in the purchasing of 145 acres in Virginia Beach. It was on this property that God would empower his people to build the Christian Broadcasting Network’s headquarters and “a school for His glory.” 

Other highlights included new Regent Law dean, Mark Martin, retired chief justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, telling his school’s graduates: “Congratulations, not just because you’re about to receive a post-graduate degree, which is an honor in its own right, but also because you’re about to join an ancient and noble profession. Our nation was founded, in no small part, by lawyers.” He added, “What remains the same, more than two centuries later, are those timeless values and fundamental principles that you have learned at Regent. Among them: logic, reason and faith.”

Charles Martin (’00)

In his charge to current and future educators, Dr. Kurt Kreassig, who was named the School of Education’s dean in June 2018, said, “The Lord has prepared you not just over these past few years at Regent in the discipline you studied, but for a lifetime of service to come.” 

New York Times  best-selling author and Regent alum Charles Martin (’00) was a special guest at the School of Communication & the Arts commissioning service. He shared, among other things, about overcoming struggles: “There will be moments when life is hard, and nothing explains it, when you have reached the end of you, when you’re in pain. … When that moment comes, I pray you hold on to your Bible. It’s light to those who find it. It will revive you. It lasts when nothing else does. And it will accomplish the purposes for which He sent it, and it will not return void.”

Less than 24 hours later, Commencement 2019 drew a crowd of more than 10,000 graduates, family members, friends, faculty, staff, current students and distinguished guests to the Library Plaza. Robertson welcomed everyone and shared an impressive list of recent Regent accomplishments: 

  • Ranked Among Top National Universities, U.S. News & World Report, 2019
  • One of only 24 universities nationally with an “A” rating for comprehensive liberal arts curriculum, American Council of Trustees and Alumni, 2019
  • Current enrollment exceeds 10,000 students representing 90 countries
  • The Class of 2019 will bring the number of Regent alumni to over 27,000

Phillip Walker, chairman of Regent’s board of trustees, congratulated the Class of 2019 for their “significant accomplishment” and encouraged them to celebrate the people in their lives who helped make this day possible. He challenged graduates to hold the words of Philippians 1:6 close to their hearts: “Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Robertson returned to the microphone to introduce the commencement speaker, Dr. Ken Eldred. An investor and founder and CEO of Living Stones Foundation, Eldred, along with his wife Roberta, is a former member of Regent’s Board of Trustees. During an iconic, global business career that has spanned more than five decades, he has founded numerous successful companies, including Ariba Technologies (now SAP Ariba). Ariba was the first internet business-to-business company to go public and was valued as high as $40 billion. Eldred is also co-founder and director of Epicenter Technologies, a call center with more than 2,500 employees based in India. 

Recipient of the Silicon Valley Entrepreneur of the Year Award (’88), Eldred served on the board of advisors for Crosspoint Venture Partners, which Forbes named the most successful venture firm three years in a row. He was also a member of former President George W. Bush’s IT Advisory Committee and Commerce Department Transition Committee. His book, God Is at Work: Transforming People and Nations Through Business, has been translated into seven languages. While another critically acclaimed work, The Integrated Life: Experience the Powerful Advantage of Integrating Your Faith and Work, is used as a textbook at a number of universities.

Eldred began his commencement address by asking graduates: “Has there ever been such a time as this? Today, you’ll have in hand a coveted possession, which no one can take away from you. You worked for it. You’ve earned it. … Congratulations!”

Dr. Kenneth A. Eldred

Eldred also shared the story of how at age 27 he received a big promotion while working at a Fortune 500 company. “As I went to bed that night, I began to lay out my career from that newly elevated position. I planned the next step up the rung of the ladder,” he recalled. “By the end of the night, there were no more rungs on the ladder for me to climb. I’d worked through my entire career and worn myself out.”

Mentally exhausted from planning his next 40 years, Eldred heard a still, small voice: “So, Ken, is that all there is to life?” He instantly felt sick inside. “I thought, ‘What if I wake up 60 years older and realize I’ve missed it?’ … My dreams had me climbing the ladder of success, but was I on the wrong ladder? … the wrong building? … the wrong foundation?”

This startling realization put him on a path to finding the Lord’s ultimate plan. “God is very clear in the Bible. He’s given us work to do,” Eldred said. “In Ephesians 2:10, Paul says that we are saved for a purpose. He writes, ‘For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.’” 

“Today, you’ll have in hand a coveted possession, which no one can take away from you. You worked for it. You’ve earned it…Congratulations!”

Dr. Kenneth A. Eldred

In closing, Eldred challenged the Class of 2019 to write a mission statement for their life, to pray for the Lord’s direction, and to discover His assignment as they leave Regent. “Do you know what your purpose is? What God has planned for you?” Eldred asked. 

“Consider taking some time out of your busy lives and write down what you believe God is calling you to do. Take the first step of faith and begin walking in your plan. Esther did, and God orchestrated the rest.”

When Robertson returned to the lectern, he shared from Psalm 81:10: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” 

“When you leave this place, I want you to open your mouth wide and receive the blessing of God. I want you to be bold as you go into the future,” Robertson insisted. 

“For every person who thinks you could do something, there’ll be at least a thousand who say you can’t do it. … Do not be timid.  … When you leave this school, realize that you have been anointed as the agents of change — Christian leadership to change your world.”

In response to the chancellor’s charge, Lauren Dennis, who was receiving her bachelor’s in biophysical sciences from the College of Arts & Sciences, spoke on behalf of her fellow graduates: “Mighty is the God we serve, and great is the work He has prepared for us to do. … It is so fitting to reflect on the story of Esther as the theme of this ceremony because her life and actions proclaimed the Lord’s faithfulness. … She chose to strategically speak up and use the position of her leadership ‘for such a time as this.’” 

“When you leave this place, I want you to open your mouth wide and receive the blessing of God. I want you to be bold as you go into the future.”

Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson

The graduates then heard from the 2019 Alumnus of the Year, Bruce Long (SCA ’01), an award-winning producer of Broadway and off-Broadway plays. (See page 13 to learn more about Regent’s 2019 Alumnus of the Year.) He arrived at Regent in the mid-90s with “clipped wings,” a young man who “didn’t know how much I didn’t know.” Long said his time at Regent wasn’t a restoration project; it was a new construction.

“The Holy Spirit was preparing to do a new thing in my life that would require an intimate marriage of faith and art; a fusion of theology and theatre,” he explained. 

“The Lord used Regent to lay a solid foundation on which He would continue to construct a rather unique and multifaceted ministry and career, spanning nearly every component of the theatrical ecosystem for the single purpose of caring for a degenerative global culture,” added Long.

After the deans of each school presented their candidates for graduation, Robertson conferred degrees upon the Class of 2019 and proclaimed, “Congratulations! You may now flip your tassels!” Immediately, the commencement crowd was showered with 70 pounds of blue, green and silver confetti.

For the benediction, Regent’s patriarch prayed the Aaronic blessing (Numbers 6:24-26)  over the graduates: “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you His peace. In Jesus’ name, amen and amen! Hallelujah and congratulations to all!”

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