Commencement Day Arrives for Class of 2016

by Sarah Cushing - Office of Marketing | May 11, 2016
2016 Graduation
The University of Valley Forge (UVF) conferred its 77th class, Class of 2016, on Friday, April 29. Eager graduates, elated family members and joyful friends gathered in Flower Chapel at 10 am for the Baccalaureate service. After a time of welcome, the worship team of graduating seniors led worship and surprised the audience by performing a song they had written, titled "Great God." Worship leader Kaitlyn Faraghan '16 shared that they hoped to encourage the future UVF classes. "We want you to go far beyond what we have done," Faraghan said. 

Trombonist Gabriell Miller '16 and vocalist Christa Mitchell '16 blessed the audience with their musical selections and afterward, Professor Bruce Marino, Ph.D., Micah Brugere '16 and Faraghan '16 delivered this year's Baccalaureate address. Following University of Valley Forge Baccalaureate tradition, each speaker addressed the past, present and future. Marino spoke of the faithfulness of leaders from the past, Brugere spoke of the present foundation built over the last four years as students, and Faraghan spoke of the graduates’ futures and encouraged them to achieve something that will outlast their lifetime.   

The 77th Commencement began at 3 pm in Flower Chapel. The service was live-streamed on the university website for those who couldn't attend, and broadcasted in overflow rooms around the campus for friends of graduates and UVF staff.  Kevin Beery, D.S.L., vice president of academic affairs, welcomed everyone to the ceremony. Professor Leone Bilotta led the audience in congregational singing, followed by William DeSanto, D.M.A., who directed the University of Valley Forge concert choir as they sang the traditional hymn and the alma mater.   

Dr. George O. Wood, general superintendent of the General Council of the Assemblies of God, USA, delivered the commencement address. Wood also serves as chairman of the World Assemblies of God fellowship as well as the global co-chair for Empowered 21. He holds a doctorate degree in pastoral theology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and a juris doctorate from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, California. He is also the author of a number of books including, “Fearless,” “Road Trip Leadership” and “Living Fully.”

Wood congratulated the Class of 2016 on reaching this momentous occasion. “Class, this is a glad day and it is a sad day,” he said. He described the mixed emotions of walking toward the future and leaving a place that had become home and people who had become family. Wood addressed the graduates, and President Don Meyer, in his last commencement service before his planned retirement, of the constants in life and the characteristics of: integrity, humility, passion and obedience. “A worthy life is a life of integrity,” Wood said. “And Dr. Meyer has certainly exampled that as he has led this university.”

He continued, “I’ve learned in life that who you are is far more important than what you do.” He spoke of the importance of character and of serving with humility as Meyer has done for his more than 19 years of service at UVF. Wood concluded his address by encouraging the graduates to go out and be passionate about what they will do and be passionate about the people around them. He commended Meyer for his passion and commitment for the students at the university in his time as president.

Afterward, Beery and Meyer presented 158 graduates with their respective graduate or undergraduate degree. These graduates have now joined the mission of thousands of other UVF alumni to live a life of service and leadership in the church and in the world. 

There was a certain expectancy and sadness in the air as Meyer, soon to be president emeritus, spoke at his last commencement service. Meyer shared his final farewell to the University of Valley Forge graduates with his traditional poem by Christopher Logue and reading from 1 Corinthians 15:58.