category: Academics

International Mission Board’s President gives commencement address

Carson-Newman University graduates hear from Dr. Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board, during the May 7 Spring Commencement ceremonies at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.
Carson-Newman University graduates hear from Dr. Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board, during the May 7 Spring Commencement ceremonies at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.


GATLINBURG, Tenn. — Carson-Newman University’s Spring Commencement ceremonies took place May 7 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.

Dr. Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board, addressed students during the 10 a.m. undergraduate ceremony and the 4 p.m. graduate ceremony.

He challenged graduates to thoughtfully consider, “Why are you here?”, and to find the answer as they look to the hope God gives through the gospel.

“Those of us who have experienced this love know that he loves them and are called to share this love,” Chitwood said. “I challenge you to live with ultimate purpose.

“Many who have studied here have devoted their lives to sharing with others the hope that God has given us in the gospel. They came here as students and figured out why they’re here,” he said. “Live as a follower of Jesus in whatever work you do — and wherever you do it, share the hope that Jesus has given us.”

Chitwood was elected president of the IMB, a missionary society of the Southern Baptist Convention, in November 2018. He previously had served as executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention since 2011. For 18 years prior to that, Chitwood served as the pastor of local churches of varying sizes in Kentucky. During his pastorates, he served as an IMB trustee from 2002-2010, including two years as chairman.

A native of Jellico, Chitwood is a graduate of Cumberland College and earned the Master of Divinity and Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a master’s degree in nonprofit administration from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame.

Graduates also heard from members of the Carson-Newman community, including President Charles A. Fowler, who praised them for their resilience in the face of the pandemic and other challenges.

Carson-Newman put into place several requirements for the event to meet COVID-19 guidelines, including requiring face coverings, temperature checks upon entry and social distancing. Graduates received a limited number of guest tickets to ensure social distancing between family groups. “

The world has never needed Carson-Newman graduates any more than it needs them today,” Fowler said. “Knowing that these students are leaving Carson-Newman with a distinctive, Christ-centered education that has equipped them to be difference makers as educated citizens and worldwide servant-leaders gives me great joy and hope. Congratulations graduates!”

Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is a Christian liberal arts-based university affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The University is located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and celebrated a record 2,900 students in the fall. Carson-Newman offers 50 undergraduate majors, as well as associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

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