A dream became reality on July 15, in Bogota, Colombia, as 14 members of the first Wesley Seminary (Bogota) cohort received master of divinity degrees to the applause of family and friends. Presiding over the ceremonies were Dr. David Wright, Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) president; Dr. Colleen Derr, Wesley Seminary president; Dr. Joanne Solis-Walker, Wesley Seminary Global Theological Studies assistant dean; and Dr. Robert Brumley, IWU's Global Academic Program (GAP) director. Seven students graduated with undergraduate degrees.
The day included a consecration service incorporating a declaration of commitment to God using phrases from the writings of John Wesley. Additionally, each graduate was prayed over by a family member or friend.
Not long after the graduation ceremony began, the room reverberated with sounds of praise as people worshiped together in Spanish. The homily was brought by Dr. Wright who encouraged the future alumni to put into practice Paul's words to Timothy: be an example for someone else, devote yourself to the work God has given you, don't neglect the gift God has given you, and watch your life and doctrine closely.
Seventeen students had started together as a Wesley Seminary (Bogota) cohort: 14 graduated Saturday and three plan to graduate next year. A graduate proclaimed their cohort's theme, "Together we can do it!" adding that God had used the classes and professors to provide not just knowledge and a vision for global ministry, God had brought spiritual growth and unity to a church that appeared to be coming apart. Another graduate testified, "I asked God to give me a mentor in ministry; that mentor turned out to be Wesley Seminary (Bogota)."
Key leaders from both Colombia Wesleyan Church districts were cohort members including the national superintendent, a district superintendent (the other graduated last year from Wesley Seminary [Indiana]) and a number of women.
"Wesley Seminary (Indiana) is thrilled to celebrate the graduation of our first Colombian cohort that represents a new wave of ministry leaders equipped for ministry," said Dr. Derr. "We thank the Lord for his provision for these graduates, the leadership of Joanne Solis-Walker in development and shepherding of this Spanish-language MDIV program, and the significant impact for the sake of the kingdom that will be realized because of the Colombian Church's effort in this regard and these student's faithfulness to fulfilling the Lord's call."
"We are doing our best to be faithful with what God has entrusted to us as a seminary. God said to ask for the nations so we are and it started with Colombia," said Dr. Solis-Walker. "I can't wait to see what they [graduates] are going to do to bring about transformation in Colombia. We already know about their passion for church planting."
As the day came to an end, each graduate received letters of congratulation from Dr. Wayne Schmidt, General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church, and Dr. Dennis Jackson, executive director of Global Partners, encouraging them to use their training to train others in Colombia and beyond.
One final time the graduates came together in a huddle and declared, "Together we did it!" Their declaration ended an amazing and God-honoring day!