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Central Holds 137th Annual Commencement

Commencement 2021By Brad Crown, CCCK Graphic Designer

McPherson, Kansas – In a year of uncertainty, it was a pretty sight as the 157 graduates of both Central Christian College of Kansas’ (CCCK) online and residential programs walked one by one across the stage to receive their diplomas during Central’s 137th commencement.

It began with the touching of the tower, a CCCK tradition that takes place as part of the processional as students walk through the Mendall B. Miller Heritage Plaza and past the Central Clock Tower. The tower embodies the words of Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe”. Tradition invites students to reach out and touch the tower, as they walk by, symbolizing their recognition of God’s provision and support.

At Central, we believe – more than ever – in the importance of students following Christ; running to him as their strong tower. We believe that God has a purpose and plan for every student that calls CCCK home. Over the past four years, they have learned the mission of the college – a Christ-Centered Education for Character – which intends to shape each student’s character and prepare them to fulfill God’s unique design for their lives. With the completion of their degrees, we wait in great anticipation to see each one of their stories unfold as their journey continues.

As a part of this year’s commencement program, Mrs. Susan Griffith Agel (CC ’74) was inducted as a CCCK Academe of Achiever. Mrs. Agel is the chair of the Free Methodist Church (USA) Board of Administration and the President and Chief Executive Officer of Positive Tomorrows. An alumna of Central, she has served the college as a Board of Trustees member from 2001-2013 and is a Stoll Society member.

Mrs. Agel had the privilege of addressing the residential graduating class. She challenged them to remember that,

No matter what, over the years, believe the promises of God!

As the head of Positive Tomorrows, she has seen the promises of God first-hand, time and time again. Positive Tomorrows is a unique nonprofit that works with families experiencing homelessness and their children in ways that no one else does. The primary program is that of a private school, regionally accredited with a cutting-edge arts-integrated curriculum. At any point in time, they have children living in the local homeless shelters, children whose parents are in a rehab program of some kind, children whose families bounce around from family members, to motels, or to anyone who will keep them off the street for even one night.

The goal of Positive Tomorrows is to help meet the basic needs of homeless families, giving them food, clothing, personal care items, and basic medical care to meet their immediate needs. They want to help each child focus on their lessons instead of worrying about food, safety, or being accepted by their peers. The hope is that, by meeting basic needs, their parents are able to set and achieve goals in order to reach greater self-reliance. The organization works on increasing income, connecting families with vital resources, and sustaining a home of their own to lift them out of the cycle of homelessness and poverty.

Their most important tool is providing education designed specifically for each child. They cap each classroom at 20 students, with a certified teacher and a teacher’s aide. They support education with carefully chosen after-school activities, enrichment opportunities, and hands-on learning to reinforce what the students get in the classroom. The organization helps those children who are in the worst-of-the-worst situations, children who sleep every night on a different floor, little ones who often go without food and appropriate clothing, and children whose parents are so worn out seeking food and shelter, there is no energy left to pay attention to the kids.

At Positive Tomorrows, if you visit the school, you will see a place full of hope. They actually measure hope as well as academic optimism and they see growth in those areas for students and parents.

Mrs. Agel believes that that,

Christians as a whole have the responsibility to look at people God loves and turn the nos [that many of those in homeless situations receive on a consistent basis] into yesses.

Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of those who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

After a tough 5-year period, Mrs. Agel felt the calling to answer Proverbs 31:8-9, feeling a strong desire to help in any way she could to help the poor, who often do not have a voice to speak for themselves. It wasn’t long after that 5-year period that the CEO position at Positive Tomorrows became open and Mrs. Agel was hired. God turned that 5-year period of what seemed like constant nos into a yes for her—using that difficult time in her life to help her understand what it was like to lose hope.

Mrs. Agel took that message directly to the class of 2021, saying,

I can guarantee that all of you graduates will go through times of darkness and what feels like a constant no. Maybe you already have. Maybe you are now. For me, that time made me so much more effective in my calling. I don’t have all the answers, but I only know that in Christ, God’s promises are yes. We know that they are certain and true.

2 Corinthians 1:20 says: ‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him, the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.’

I see people every day who struggle to retain hope. They are living chaotic lives, without purpose. They have no anchor. As people of faith, our anchor is hope in God’s promises. When life seems unfair, when dreams take forever to come true, if you’re drifting, know that you have the anchor of God’s ‘Yes’ in Christ.

God is faithful to his promises and at any time in our lives, no matter how bad it may seem, we know that Christ says “Yes” to us and fulfills those promises. It’s our part to say “Amen “and believe that to be true. So, here is my message to you. No matter what, over the years, believe the promises of God.

So, congratulations, graduates! You made it. As you take your next steps in life, may you forever believe in the promises of God.

ABOUT CENTRAL CHRISTIAN COLLEGE OF KANSAS

Central Christian College of Kansas is a regionally accredited institution offering undergraduate and graduate-level programs. Central strives to offer Christ-centered education for the whole person – heart, mind, soul, and strength. Its history dates back to 1884, and it is located in the friendly town of McPherson, Kansas. Central is a strategically small college that offers over forty areas of residential study and a thriving online program for non-traditional students. To learn more about who Central is go to centralchristian.edu/about.

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