Friday, May 17, 2019, saw the first Living Education–Charlotte graduation ceremony. The staff meeting room of the Living Church of God’s international headquarters building was filled with the students’ families and friends. The excitement of the graduates and those present to support them was palpable, as the students, seated at the front of the room, awaited their certificates. Dr. Scott Winnail, the Living Education Assistant Director and instructor of three of its courses, presided over the ceremony.
As the graduation proceedings began, Mr. Roderick McNair, the Assistant Director of Church Administration, asked God’s blessing upon the event. Dr. Winnail then introduced the Director of Living Education, Mr. Jonathan McNair, as the first to speak. Mr. McNair plainly stated the focus of the Living Education–Charlotte program: to support the leadership of God’s Church in its efforts to spiritually feed the flock that comprises the Bride of Jesus Christ, and to ensure that the next generation of the Church’s leaders are educated in biblical foundations. Following Mr. McNair’s address, Dr. Winnail introduced evangelist Mr. Richard Ames, Director of Media Operations for the Living Church of God. Mr. Ames detailed the history and legacy of education in God’s Church, from the Ambassador College institutions and Imperial Schools of the Worldwide Church of God, to Living Education’s direct predecessor, Living University.
Dr. Scott Winnail then had the pleasure of introducing his father, evangelist Dr. Douglas Winnail, Director of Church Administration. The elder Dr. Winnail also addressed the purpose of Living Education as he offered reflections and thoughts to the graduates and clarified the ultimate purpose of true education: To enable all of us to serve God and serve other people. This inspiring message served to invigorate the assembled students and motivate them to apply their knowledge of the true God in lives of heartfelt service.
After Dr. Douglas Winnail’s address, Dr. Scott Winnail directed the students to rise. One by one, as their names and hometowns were read, the students were each given a hard-earned Certificate in Biblical Foundations, framed and ready for display on office walls or living room mantels. Each student was also given an officially-marked Living Education binder, which was, by one student’s description, “swanky.”
Finally, Mr. Gerald Weston, Presiding Evangelist of the Living Church of God, gave an empowering graduation address. Mr. Weston reminded everyone of this world’s increasing hostility toward God’s way of life, and assured the students that they have a “rendezvous with destiny” as the end of the age draws ever closer. Students were encouraged to move forward boldly in Christ’s name and to strive to grow in His grace and knowledge, not because such a task is easy, but because it is right.
As theology faculty member Mr. Kenneth Frank closed the ceremony with prayer, the students digested the spiritual food they had been served not only throughout the morning’s proceedings, but over the course of their nine-month Living Education experience. Living Education–Charlotte’s inaugural year having come to an end, the students prepared to once again step back into the world, grateful for the training they’d received in becoming greater ambassadors for Christ.