‘God Has Never Had a Teacher’
Moody undergraduate, seminary classes of 2023 encouraged to lean on God’s sufficiency in graduation ceremonies
On Saturday, May 13, 325 students from Moody Bible Institute and 170 students from Moody Theological Seminary and Graduate School in Chicago received their diplomas, cheered on by numerous classmates, faculty, and family members in two ceremonies. The undergraduate commencement was held at The Moody Church, nearly filling its large sanctuary. The seminary commencement took place in Torrey-Gray Auditorium at Moody Bible Institute.
The undergraduate commencement began as a trumpet triumphantly sounded and Moody’s faculty walked down the aisle in academic regalia from their alma maters. The graduates followed, entering the middle section of seats as family members cheered and filmed the processional. Graduating student body president Luke Kegeris ’23 gave a brief speech.
“Every single one of you has worked incredibly hard to make it this far, and you should be very proud of yourselves for this accomplishment,” he told his fellow graduates.
Moody President Dr. Mark Jobe ’84 MA ’98 introduced and awarded honorary doctorate degrees to Revs. James Meeks and Theodore Asare. The degrees represented recognition of the massive impact they both have made for the gospel over many years in their respective positions.
Asare runs a ministry called Theovision International in Ghana, West Africa, which has worked to translate the Bible into hundreds of African languages to be read orally in villages across the region. Before conferring the Doctor of Divinity to Asare, Jobe described how the ministry has impacted “literally hundreds of thousands” of people in Africa over more than 40 years. Asare and his team have also partnered with Moody to train 2,000 graduates in Africa so far through Moody School of the Bible in Ghana.
Moody President Dr. Mark Jobe presents an honorary doctorate to Rev. Theodore M. Asare, founder and president of Theovision International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading the gospel and showing the love of Christ across the nations of Africa in their own heart language.
Meeks, a member of the Moody Board of Trustees, is the founder and pastor emeritus of Salem Baptist Church, the largest African American church on Chicago’s South Side, where he recently retired from pastoring after 38 years. Meeks is highly involved in his community and has been for many years, even having served as an Illinois state senator for three terms (2003–2013). He has made a lasting impact by fighting for better education, giving cassette Bibles to every prisoner in Illinois, and even closing 26 liquor stores in the Roseland community.
After receiving his honorary doctorate to a standing ovation, Meeks delivered the commencement address, preaching from Isaiah 6 to offer his encouragement and prayers to the graduating class.
“We hope, students, that as you prepare to leave Moody, that you’re leaving here with a high view of God,” he said. “God has no equal. God has no peer. God has no comparison.”
According to Isaiah 40:13, “God has never had a teacher,” he added. “Who has taught God? There is nothing, young people, and nobody higher than God.”
With this lofty view of God and an honest look at the sinful condition of man, Meeks’ prayer for students is that they will leave reliant on Him and willing to live in obedience. “We hope that you all realize that heaven has a plan,” Meeks said. “Jesus Christ is God’s remedy for our messed-up lives.”
Rev. James T. Meeks speaks to graduates as the keynote speaker during Moody Bible Institute’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 13, at The Moody Church in Chicago. Rev. Meeks, founder and senior pastor of Chicago’s Salem Baptist Church for 38 years and a member of the Moody Board of Trustees, also received an honorary doctorate from Moody during commencement.
Following Meeks’ address, David Gauger, who is retiring as professor of music after 29 years, led with trumpet the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” The degrees were conferred next. As the students received their diplomas and had their picture taken with Dr. Jobe, their friends and family enthusiastically cheered them on.
The students were called by major, with a particularly high number of Integrated Ministry Studies, Biblical Studies, Communications, and Human Services majors graduating. Most of the 81 IMS graduates and over 40 percent of Biblical Studies grads hailed from Moody’s online program.
Alumni Association Executive Director Jeff Bope ’11 welcomed the graduates into the Alumni Association, and the attendees were led in the “Christian Fellowship Song” (“God Bless the School”). After closing remarks by Dr. Dwight Perry and Dr. Michael Rydelnik ’74, the graduates and families were dismissed.
The sentiment Meeks shared in his message about relying on God was present in students’ reflections after the ceremony. Biblical Studies graduate David Taylor ’23 said that graduating from Moody is “just a testimony to God’s faithfulness.”
David Balsamo ’23, Missional Leadership Nonprofit major, said, “By the glory of God, we got it done.
Dr. Meeks also preached the commencement address for Moody Theological Seminary in Torrey-Gray Auditorium Saturday afternoon. The event included greetings from Sarah Hutchinson, student body representative, and Mark Flannery, vice chair of Moody’s Board of Trustees. Dr. Winfred Neely gave the benediction for the 170 students who graduated from Moody’s online or in-person degree programs.
Berk Arslan MDiv ’23, a former nominal Muslim, completed his MDiv in Pastoral Studies online with hopes of using his degree as a chaplain and ultimately to minister to children in Turkey, along with his wife, Karen, who graduated in 2017 with an MA in Spiritual Formation. “Academically, there’s nothing like Moody. I love the teachers. We have a relationship, and they supported my growth,” he said.
Back in the 1990s, Moody students who worked in the building he lived in reached out to him; after 18 years he became a believer and began pursuing a degree at Moody.
Jean Jeanty MDiv ’23, an assistant pastor of Gabaon Baptist Church, a Haitian American congregation in Chicago, was heading down the path of corporate America when God changed his course, leading Jean to pursue ministry through Moody. He graduated with an MDiv in Pastoral Studies online and is grateful for the training he received to teach, preach, and do pastoral care.
“My ability to be able to rightly handle the Word of God has been sharpened,” he said. “Being able to utilize that to really help grow and encourage God’s people, I’ve just come out with a passion, ready to put that to good use.”