NASHVILLE, TN — Family and friends joined American Baptist College’s Board of Trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, and students last week to celebrate the Class of 2023 during Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremonies. Graduates heard words and songs of praise, along with inspiring messages from the two keynote speakers and others.

“As an alumnus of American Baptist College, I’m always inspired by the opportunity to welcome new graduates into our ranks,” said President Forrest E. Harris Sr. “We are proud to recognize the members of the Class of 2023 as they prepare to go forward to continue shaping ABC’s legacy for the world.”

Bishop Anne Henning-Byfield of the 13th District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, delivered the keynote address. 

“Some of you didn’t know you would end up here and some of you didn’t know you would stay, but here you sit,” she said. “Somebody might have told you that you wouldn’t amount to anything, but here you are.”

During her address, Henning-Byfield noted that her father, the late Dr. Herman W. Henning, was a member of the American Baptist College (then American Baptist Theological Seminary) Class of 1930 and added, “You didn’t get here by yourself. You’re standing on a foundation that others set for you.”

Graduates shared their own journeys, as well.

In her presentation to the Baccalaureate audience, Brittany Fitzgerald-Hill said, “An unknown writer stated, ‘It doesn’t really matter who you used to be; what matters is who you’re becoming.’ I came in unsure of what I was going to do and how I was going to manage. I walked on campus and everyone began telling me about the leadership skills I possessed. I am thankful ABC has nurtured and dutifully groomed these skills, allowing me to stand as a reflection of social justice, equity, advocacy, and leadership (S.E.A.L.).”

Dr. B. LaMont Monford, Sr., pastor of Philippian Missionary Baptist Church in Lima, OH, and president of the ABC National Alumni Association, served as Baccalaureate speaker and encouraged graduates to remember Hebrews 12:1 – “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” reminding them that graduation is only the beginning. “You just finished a leg. You still have a race to run.”

Harmonie Hall delivered the senior address during the Commencement ceremony. “We have been tested and put through the fire, and we have come out as pure gold. To the graduates of American Baptist College: Always stay diligent in the fight for social justice and remember our S.E.A.L. initiatives. Wherever we go, let’s change the temperature in the room. Do it afraid. And do it when no one is looking. Let the flame that was lit here at American Baptist College last forever.”