Maria Johnson 2018 Baccalaureate service

Maria Johnson informs the audience of her plans to attend Virginia Highlands Community College in the fall to study horticulture. Johnson was one of the 25 JCHS graduating seniors honored at this year’s Baccalaureate service sponsored by the Johnson County Ministerial Alliance and hosted by First Christian Church.

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

Members of the Johnson County High School graduating class were individually recognized and officially celebrated during last week’s Baccalaureate Service held at the newly constructed Christian Life Center of the First Christian Church of Mountain City. Twenty-One graduating seniors attended this special service along with friends, family, teachers, support staff and school board administration.

Dwayne Dickson, First Christian Church Senior Pastor, introduced the special guest speaker Andrew Norman, an Elizabethton High School graduate, Milligan College graduate and current student at Liberty University preparing to receive his master’s degree in December. “He is also going to become our Youth Minister here, at First Christian Church, in June,” announced Dickson. “We are looking forward to getting to know him.”

“I just want to spend some time with you in The Word,” said Norman, using Philippians 3 as the key text, “and to challenge you guys as you move forward in this new chapter of your life.” He also spoke of the importance of having goals in life. “Recognizing the goal is simple,” he said, “yet how we are going to accomplish the goal is not so simple. The ‘what’ is easily understood; however, the ‘how’ is a bit more complex.” Norman currently serves the Country Line Christian Church in Axton, Virginia. He, his wife and three children will be moving to the area next month.

The Baccalaureate, a centuries-old religious graduation tradition which began in England, generally refers to a non-denominational ceremony held a few days before high school or college graduation, and typically offer a quieter, more intimate opportunity to pause and reflect on this rite of passage. Representatives of the Johnson County Ministerial Alliance sponsored the service; a group made up of pastors from the churches of Johnson County “who desire to demonstrate the unity of the body of Christ by working together for the cause of Christ.” Each graduate in attendance was given a gift before sharing their individual plans for post-secondary educations and career goals. A reception for the 25 JCHS graduates who attended followed the service.