By CHRIS SCHUTZ
Bishop Robert Hayes Jr. found parallels between his upcoming retirement and the next stage of life for the graduates of Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University.
He was their commencement speaker May 27 in OCU’s Smith Chapel.
Hayes, who titled his message "The Next Chapter," told the five graduates that both he and they "are coming to the end of the chapter." They must turn the page to see what’s next.
He encouraged graduates to "have a theme to your life. What will be the things that drive you? You must declare what your values are."
He advised, "Success is not all that important." Instead, work to be significant.
In life, God is the dispatcher, Hayes said. "The destination is not up to you."
The bishop is excited that the seminary now has graduated six classes. Saint Paul at OCU is "a reality, a dream come true," he said. After retirement, he plans to continue working with Saint Paul as its bishop-in-residence at OCU.
At commencement, Master of Divinity degrees were conferred on: Lance Ashmore of Wister; Seungrok Kim, Oklahoma City: Shiuan Hie (Victoria) Lee, Oklahoma City; Lora Lee Stiles, Vinita; and Zachary Zink, Yukon.
All five have been appointed to churches, said Elaine Robinson, seminary dean.
The class presented gifts that represented their diversity to the school. Among them was a Korean pencil case, representing tools of education. There was a Native American blessing bowl, a reminder of "our common connection to God, who is always present in hearing our prayers," and a Chinese-English New Testament, signifying Christ "is the Savior of all people and all cultures," according to a statement read by the students during the ceremony.
There was also a hand-woven Bolivian awayu. The rectangular cloth is used a community tablecloth and as a backpack of sorts for carrying food, children, rocks, or livestock. Stiles, who was class president, has a passionate interest in Bolivia and leads mission trips there.
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Jim Brandt, left, professor of historical theology, and Israel Kamudzandu, associate professor of New Testament studies, place a master’s degree hood on Shiuan Hie (Victoria) Lee during commencement rehearsal May 27 for Saint Paul at Oklahoma City University. Photo By Chris Schutz