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College of Biblical Studies celebrates award recipients

The College of Biblical Studies celebrated several of its “outstanding” seniors at an awards luncheon on Tuesday.

Several students were honored with awards, including those with vocational ministry majors and those who excelled in general Bible classes.

After an opening prayer and Scripture reading, Baugh Chair of Preaching Doug Peters presented a charge to the graduating students.

“Ministry and service are directional callings; they are toward people,” Peters said. “This is not your father’s ministry, and it is certainly not your grandfather’s ministry. But it will be your ministry.”

Afterwards, senior Zekariah McNeal presented a student’s response to Peters’ charge.

“As soon-to-be graduates of this institution, we want to proclaim to you an identity that is shaped by the way you’ve instructed us,” McNeal said. “Here at the Oklahoma Christian University College of Biblical Studies, we’ve spent years examining the biblical Christ and we will spend many more years communicating the principles of the biblical Christ to fellow Christians.”

Charles Rix, interim dean of the College of Biblical Studies, opened the award presentation ceremony.

“I’m completing my fifth year here teaching in the Bible Department,” Rix said. “And I can honestly say that in all my years of corporate work, work in the church and work in the academy, I have never worked with a group of individuals who get along so well, who are so well-prepared in their field and who love and care so much about students. I am very thankful to be a part of this team at Oklahoma Christian, it does make us distinctive among colleges.”

Amanda Smith, who is the first female student to receive the Hugo McCord Leadership Award, said that the honor means a great deal to her.

“It’s really nice, because there’s a lot of work that goes into getting a Bible degree,” Smith said. “It just doesn’t get recognized that much. And I’m not just trying to get recognized, but I just care a lot about the professors, and respect them so much. It’s great to know that they also respect me.”

Rix said Smith was chosen to receive the award based on her academic record and passion for children.

“The award goes to an outstanding person in ministry,” Rix said. “She’s shown amazing leadership in children’s ministry, as well as a perfect GPA. So it’s just time to recognize her.”

Rix presented four awards to senior students who have exceeded in their leadership and service: McNeal received the Raymond Kelcy Leadership Award, Jaron Brandt received the Dean’s Award, Trevor Richt and AnnaBeth Duncan each received the Stafford North Preaching Award.

“My experience in the College of Biblical Studies has formed me, allowing me to appreciate Scripture, the people that love it and what it does for faith communities,” McNeal said. “I’m thankful for helpful professors, caring mentors and spiritually transformative experiences.”

Rix said that he chose Brandt to receive the Dean’s Award because of his efforts in the Bible department.

“Jaron is an incredibly creative individual, who knows how think deeply and is able to write and communicate Scripture in ways that are relevant to our culture,” said Rix. “I have no doubt Jaron will do great things with his Bible degree.”

Richt said that his degree has shaped him personally and spiritually.

“The lessons I have learned will stay with me for the rest of my life,” Richt said. “They have helped to shape the person I am today.”

Grant Testut, assistant professor of Bible, presented the Outstanding Hebrew Student Award to sophomore Isaac Borbon.

“I first met Isaac when he came to my office during his freshman year with some interesting questions that I rarely hear from students,” Testut said. “So this was a student who I could already realize was invested in the literature of our discipline, even before he came to us.”

Senior Travis Frost received the Outstanding Youth Ministry Award, which was presented by professor of Bible Dudley Chancey.

“I’ve not only been equipped to lead in the church, but I’ve been challenged and transformed as a person for Christ,” Frost said about the honor. “I’m thankful for the professors who have invested in me and made me feel welcome throughout my three years here at Oklahoma Christian.”

Lynn McMillon, distinguished professor of Bible, presented the Outstanding Male and Female Vocational Ministry Major Awards to senior Bret Arnold and recent graduate Lizzy Rojas Maddox.

“One of our awards goes to Lizzy Rojas, who graduated in December with a major in Spanish,” McMillon said. “She’s living in the south side of Oklahoma City, and her desire is to better improve relationships with the Spanish and white communities and to carry the gospel in her service there.”

Arnold was also honored with an award for his service in vocational ministry.

“Bret Arnold is about to graduate next week,” McMillon said. “He has studied both psychology and business management, and is doing vocational ministry as his second major. We’re looking forward to great things coming from Bret.”

Stafford North, distinguished professor of Bible, presented Outstanding Male and Female Bible Student Awards to seniors Hayley Waldo and Casey Covalt. Each of these non-Bible major students exceeded 15 hours in Bible outside of their major.

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