I walk into the room and take my place. The room is void of ambiance. There are no flowers or balloons. There is no stage, no podium, no piano player filling the air with music. In fact, with no graduands, the room is eerily quiet. Six feet away from me sits Kajle Radbourne, Associate Director of Operations. Each of us has one ear bud in and one ear bud out, a necessity for hearing the audio stream and our technical cues. President Kent Anderson sits a few feet further away, all of us wired in to the strength of TWU’s bandwidth to ensure a glitch free ceremony. At 5:45 p.m. Kajle launches the stream, and at 6:00 p.m. we go live. Immerse Grad 2020 is under way.
On Friday, September 18, the 2020 Immerse Class gathered online to celebrate their graduation. Each graduate had been sent a “Grad in a Box.” Each box included their diploma and letters of congratulation, along with a gown, hood, and cap. Also included were party essentials like balloons, banners, chocolate, and gift cards.
Grads were encouraged to gather in their physical distancing bubble, put on their regalia, and celebrate their accomplishment. Our Immerse graduates through Fellowship Pacific gathered in small groups in homes or churches. Our grads with Northview Community Church held an “Under 50 People Gathering” celebration and dessert night. Our lone graduate through the 17:6 Network met with family and friends in California. And all of us were joined together through Zoom.
The graduation ceremony included many wonderful aspects. Graduate Kendra Gerbrandt, now Director of Discipleship for Women at Christ City Church in Vancouver, read Psalm 33. She chose it because God’s creative word, power, wisdom, and eternal knowledge are highlighted in this psalm. She said in an email that the psalm served as a reminder that, “In pastoral ministry we need to set our mind with the right perspective of who our God is, and declare that he is worthy of praise because of who he is, not because of any circumstance (good or bad) that we encounter.”
Graduate Zach Yaciw, Online Director with Village Church in Surrey, provided the student testimony. He spoke of his various ministry opportunities, including leading Freedom Sessions and waking up at 4:30 a.m. for a church plant launch set up. He emphasized how “Immerse has set me up Biblically and practically for a life time of church ministry.”
A special feature of this year’s graduation was the awarding of an Honorary Doctor of Ministry to pastor Harold Bullock. Dr. Bullock served as lead pastor at Hope Church in Fort Worth, Texas for 42 years. His church served as the training ground for church planters and cross-cultural missionaries who have planted more than 130 churches in North America and served in 34 countries. Dr. Bullock partners with Northwest in running degree programs through the 17:6 Network and more recently through the Bullock Institute.
We are grateful to everyone who attended our online graduation and supported our students. We gathered from the Philippines, England, the US, and Canada, and it was truly a grand celebration of what our students have accomplished to the glory of God.