BETHANY, W.Va. — Bethany College held its baccalaureate ceremony on May 5, in Commencement Hall, as graduating seniors and their families joined faculty and staff for a service that celebrated their shared intellectual and spiritual journey. Keynote speaker Rev. Thaddeus Allen offered inspiring remarks to the Class of 2023, encouraging them to maintain hope, seek love, and cultivate faith as they embark on the next chapter of their lives. 

Baccalaureate — a tradition in colleges and universities that dates back centuries — is an occasion for reflection, gratitude, and inspiration before graduates embark on the exciting challenges of the future. The ceremony began with an invocation, followed by music before Bethany President Dr. Jamie Caridi welcomed the audience and introduced Rev. Allen.

“As a class, you have experienced the Bison community from the very start, and through it, you have excelled in ways you might never have thought possible when you first decided that Bethany would be your college home,” said Caridi. “And our response to what you have given us through your gifts is one of gratitude and thanks. The world is far better with your compassion, curiosity, kind hearts, and leadership in it.” 

Student Government Association Vice President Ian Nelson followed Caridi’s remarks with some of his own, saying “Let us not focus on our regrets and what we could have done differently. Instead, let us be proud of who we have become because of our time here, and because of the choices we made. That includes both our successes and our struggles.” 

Rev. Allen, Regional Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in W.Va., Pa., and the Northeastern Region and a noted speaker on the topics of faith and personal growth, provided an uplifting and thought-provoking address to the graduates. He spoke about the importance of hope, love, and faith in navigating the many twists and turns of life. 

He started by saying “God works through people, and I think some of God’s most beautiful work is Bethanians.” 

Rev. Allen reflected on the Class of 2023’s journey at Bethany—their matriculation, a worldwide pandemic, athletic successes, and

 more. He focused his entire sermon around the phrase “get lost,” encouraging students to fully immerse themselves in everything they do in life.

“Get lost in justice causes. Get lost in peacemaking. Get lost in telling the truth. Get lost in excellence. Get lost in standing up to powers and principalities that aren’t fair. There are systems in the world that stack a deck against some and deal five, six, seven, or eight against others. Stand up to those. Find a bully and knock them over if you get the chance. It’s the best thing you can do for them. Get lost while you’re doing it. Get out of your own way and lose yourself while doing it. Get really lost in some great, holy, life-changing cause.” 

He also encouraged the graduates to believe in themselves, recognize their unique strengths, and use their talents to make a difference in the world. The baccalaureate ended with Rev. Erin James-Brown saying “May you never be lost in the blandness of work but lost in the beauty of your days. So, may the dawn of each new day find hope in your heart as you approach your dreams and possibilities, and promises. May you be gracious with yourself as God is so gracious with you. May others be so blessed with your existence as we have by you.”