Saturday, May 17, more than 320 bachelor's degrees were presented at Gordon's 116th Commencement, which took place on the quad in front of roughly 2,000 family members and friends. The Commencement address, "What Is in Your Hand?", was given by Dr. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church, and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Rick and his wife, Kay, have been deeply involved with Saddleback Church in forging a Christian response to what he terms the "five global giants" that affect billions of people: spiritual emptiness, lack of servant leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic diseases, and illiteracy.
Warren challenged the Class of 2008 to put themselves in the place of Moses, who was asked this very important question by God: "What is in your hand?" In Moses' case, what was in his hand was a shepherd's staff--a symbol of his identity, income and influence. "God asks us to yield what is in our hands to him," Warren said. "If you lay it down, He will make it come alive. Every time you take it back, it dies." Moses' staff, which he yielded to God, is never again referred to as a staff, but as the "rod of God." Warren then turned the question toward the graduates: "What is in your hand? And what are you going to do with it?"
Other highlights of the ceremony included the presentation of the two annual Distinguished Faculty Awards. Tanya Butler, associate professor of visual arts, received the Junior Distinguished Faculty Award. Jeff Miller, professor of theatre arts, received the Senior Distinguished Faculty Award.
Later in the day the first separate Graduate Commencement Ceremony took place in A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel. Forty-six master's degrees in education and music education were presented. Speakers were graduate music faculty Malcolm Patterson and Ken Phillips along with degree recipients Paula Schram (education) and James Donovan (music).
Commencement Weekend also included the Senior Breakfast and an evening Baccalaureate Service on Friday, May 16. During the breakfast a senior class slide show was followed by a heartfelt reflection by retiring English professor Peter Stine, who reminisced about driving down the "avenue of trees" 40 years ago and first hearing God speak to him about serving at Gordon. "Don't spend your treasure on something that doesn't fit," he told the graduates.
Daniel Kiyoi, senior class vice president, referencing the "New Seven Wonders of the World," offered his own list of "Seven Gordon Wonders":
7. Intramural dodge ball
6. Pink package slips in your student mailbox
5. Marv Wilson
4. Golden Goose
3. Brian the "God bless you" man
2. Ginger, Jean and Pat (the "holy trinity of the sandwich line")
Dr. Roberto Miranda, senior pastor of Congregación León de Judá in Roxbury, Massachusetts, spoke during Friday evening's Baccalaureate Service. His address, "A Pious Mind," outlined three main reasons for the current structural weakness of evangelical thinking. Miranda believes that in order to have an impact on the culture, evangelical leaders must not be complacent, but be unified and ready to act assertively within the culture.