Archive for Thursday, April 26, 2001

Baccalaureate tradition continues with graduation

April 26, 2001

Following years of tradition, the Ministerial Alliance will once again hold a baccalaureate service, giving departing seniors a final spiritual thought.

The Rev. Lowell Weinacht said the service would be held at 1:15 p.m., May 27, at the Eudora High auditorium. Graduation is at 2:30 p.m. in the EHS gym. Rev. Dottie Forinash Knetsch of Eudora United Methodist Church will officiate.

To adhere to the issue of separation of church and state, the baccalaureate service is held independent of the graduation ceremony, said the Rev. Glenn Weld, Eudora Assembly of God. The Ministerial Alliance is composed of church heads that choose to be a member of the alliance. The group rotates its speakers annually, giving members an opportunity to speak at the service.

"What baccalaureate is, it is a church service for the graduating seniors," Weld said. "That's what it's geared toward. We try to make it a church service and challenge our graduates."

Any organization may use school facilities for an event, if approved by the Eudora Board of Education. The board approved usage of the EHS auditorium for the baccalaureate service by the Ministerial Alliance at its April 12 meeting.

Eudora High Principal Marty Kobza said the school could do nothing to promote the event, because of separation of church and state laws. However, any students wanting to publicize the event are welcome to do so.

"The courts are pretty specific on that regarding the school's involvement," he said. "There's no planning on anything of the school. It has nothing to do with us except the use of the facility."

Weld said he liked the process now used to hold baccalaureate at the school. Baccalaureate was once part of the school's ceremony, but now it is independent.

"In the past we were kind of their service, this way we can do it the way we want," he said. "It kind of makes it better for everybody, I think. By having a baccalaureate service immediately prior to the gradation, it just makes it easier. Those who want to come can come and stay for graduation."

Weld said any church wanting to be a part of the Ministerial Alliance may do so. To speak at the service a church member or leader must be a member of the group.

Weld said a lack of religious diversity has never been a problem, simply because Eudora is comprised of Protestant and Catholic churches.

"Any pastor that's here in town that comes to the meetings can make it," he said. "We even have some guys that can't come to the (Ministerial Alliance) meetings but are still on the rotation because they've chosen to affiliate with us."

Above all, Weld said, the focus of baccalaureate is to give graduates a final encouragement before going their separate ways.

"Graduation's kind of an important time in their life and it's just a way to let them know, 'don't forget the Lord in all of your plans,'" Weld said.

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