Salutatory Speech 2016

Mr. Moderator, President of the Jamaica Theological Seminary, Dr Garnett Roper; Host Pastor, Rev. Adinhair Jones, Members of the Board of Governors of JTS, leaders and members of the Olson Memorial Church of God, fellow members of the class of 2016, members of the Academic Staff; family members; friends ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters

I speak on behalf of all graduands when I quote from 1Samuel 7:12— “Thus far hath the Lord helped us”.

We would not have made it to this juncture without His enabling grace. If given the opportunity, each person would testify to the many struggles faced throughout the years we have been students at Jamaica Theological Seminary. And, I am sure there are lecturers here, who could also voice the struggles they have had with some of us…yours truly included.

Many of us struggled with conflicting commitment deadlines and class assignments while trying to cope with the demands of family and work.

Many struggled with the challenges of paying school fees and ancillary fees. Some of us struggled academically. And, if we would be honest, a few of us struggled spiritually.

Yet, in spite of the plethora of struggles, today we are filled with anticipation, looking forward to Saturday when we will graduate and be counted among those who are a part of the rich heritage of this great institution.

We have persevered to this day and so we say as Paul did in 2Corinthians 2:14: “Thanks be God who always causes us to triumph.”

We have been winners through the grace and mercies of God. And that is something to shout about! God has taken us thus far, and He will take us even farther.

Philippians 1:6 encourages us to be confident that: “He who began a good work in us will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” God finishes what He starts and graduation is not that finish.

Graduation is not an end. It’s a beginning-- A Commencement. A kick-off point, if you will. It’s the start of new opportunities to put into practice what the learned Lecturers have imparted to us. We have been given the tools to become Teachers, Counsellors, Social Workers, Pastors, Musicians, and Workers in a myriad of church ministries.

Since we are already assured of victory, I want us to adopt the attitude of the late Mohammed Ali who said: “Impossible is just a word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it... Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary." Fanny Crosby lived that out; despite being blind from age two months, and growing up without father (he died) and mother (who had to work as a maid), and so having to grow up with her grandmother, she went on to be a teacher of blind children and to write over 9,000 hymns some of which are very popular today. She knew that with God all things are possible.

We also know that “with God all things are possible.” Let us therefore now go in His power and authority and face every so-called impossibility with the confidence that with God’s leading, nothing will be impossible for us.

So let’s go out there and, with the help of God, be effective in whatever He calls us to do. LET US NEVER FORGET FOR WHOM WE WORK.

We must do what we do with humility of spirit, strength of purpose, and integrity of character- Always keeping in mind that: “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver or gold”.

We should never think that just because we have graduated, we have perfected our skills and therefore we do not need God’s guidance anymore. Neither should it be said of us: (As it was said of King Uzziah) “They were marvellously helped until they became strong- then they grew proud, to their destruction”.

Let us always be reminded of the Scripture that says: “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall”.

Instead of taking pride in our achievements, let us take pleasure in the positive effects and uplifting transformation our knowledge and influence will have on those with whom we interact.

In closing, let me quote a few lines from one of Fanny Crosby’s hymns, a hymn which acknowledges that God is our Help; we can do nothing without Him, and we should attempt nothing without Him. Let each of us make these words our own:

I must have the Saviour with me
For I dare not walk alone.
I must feel his presence near me
And his arms around me thrown.
Then my soul shall fear no ill;
Let Him lead me where He will.
I will go without a murmur
And His footsteps follow still.


Salutatory Speech Prepared and Delivered by Hazilyn Dixon Douglas. June 2016


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