By Gbenga Osinaike
13 people were among the 137 students who graduated from the West Africa Theological Seminary with a Doctor of Ministry degree at the school’s just concluded convocation ceremony.
The event which held on Saturday September 16 also witnessed the graduation of 124 others with Bachelor and Masters Degrees in various church and leadership related disciplines.
This year’s convocation was perhaps one the grandest in the history of the seminary. It is the first time it would produce such large number in the Doctor of Ministry category.
The entire school auditorium and its surrounding were jammed with graduating students and their well wishers. By the time the event rounded off at about 3pm the whole compound of the school was jammed with people while vehicles stretched from the school to the adjoining street covering over 500 feet.
The event attracted top church leaders including the former General Overseer of the Foursquare Gospel Church, Rev. Wilson Badejo and the former General Secretary of the Bible Society of Nigeria, Dr. Fred Odutola who are also chairman and vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the school.
Several top General overseers of churches were among the graduating students. The school boasts of students from different churches in Africa especially the West Africa Sub-region. About130 denominations have students in the seminary which is about the leading theological institution in Nigeria that is non-denominational. It also prides itself in resource persons from across US, Europe and Africa
In his opening remark at the event which lasted for about five hours, the Acting Provost of the Institution, Dr. Marybeth Leavell described 2017 convocation as epochal noting that graduates from WATS will no doubt make meaningful impact in the larger society and indeed in the body of Christ.
She said the future of WATS is more assured than ever pointing out that the WATS community should look ahead to a more glorious and eventful years ahead. “I can assure you that our future is much more assured than our past. We are in transition and the changes ahead are meaningful changes that will be for the good of all”
She described those who have passed through various courses of study in the school as being blessed adding also that, that the bane of the church is leadership. “With the kind of education people get in WATS, we are confident that our products will make meaningful impact outside.’
She counseled that the teachings of Jesus should be central in the message of the church pointing out that with Jesus’ teachings, no church can go wrong. “Jesus is at the centre of the Bible. No church can go wrong with his teachings. And that is what we emphasise here in the seminary.”
The guest lecturer at the convocation, the President Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Old Testament and Ethics at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Massachusetts,, Dr. Walter Christian Kaiser delivered a powerful message titled, the Incomparable God at the convocation dwelling on Isaiah 40 v10 to the end. He explained to the gathering that God has strong interest in the affairs of man pointing out that “God knows every man by name.”
He stated that God is incomparable in power, presence and person. “There is nothing in this world to compare God with. His presence is awesome, his glory is incomparable. His person is unequal. That is the God we serve.” He said.
He charged the congregation to shun human tradition and embrace the light of the gospel that can liberate. He encouraged them to worship God despite all the challenges that may be confronting Nigeria as a country. “We must learn to continue to trust God, to work and not be weary to serve with the whole of our heart and see how God will turn situations around for our good.”
The holders of doctor of ministry degree include Useni Richard, Useni Pius, Iraha Julius, Offor Kalu, Ikechuckwu Ugwu Greg, Oboh Etim and Ogbonaya Chukwuemeka. Others include Durotoluwa John, Williams Akintunde, Ehi Gabriel, Achumba Boniface, Akwuruoha Gabriel and Olowogbemi Christy.
The founder of the institution Dr. Gary Maxey expressed great delight at the development in the institution. He thanked all those who made the convocation a success expressing confidence that the future is assured for the seminary.