The announcement in the newspaper was brief, “The Mid-Prairie Class of 1973 will participate in a two-part graduation ceremony. Baccalaureate will not be held for the first time as a school …
The announcement in the newspaper was brief, “The Mid-Prairie Class of 1973 will participate in a two-part graduation ceremony. Baccalaureate will not be held for the first time as a school function.” The notice then went on to describe the two parts: a Senior Awards assembly on Friday afternoon, and the Commencement exercises on the following Thursday evening. The article’s headline said it all: “Award Program Beginning of End for Seniors.”
Beginning of the end of school - produced baccalaureates, maybe, but not the beginning of the end of the service itself. On Thursday, May 27, 7 p.m. at the Asbury Methodist Church in Wellman, the Council of Mid-Prairie Churches is bringing back the baccalaureate service as the religious ceremony it was always intended to be, a ceremony in which, in our case, high school graduates are recognized and preached to as an act of the worship of God.
Baccalaureate once meant nothing more than the bachelor’s degree awarded to college graduates. Because the process of getting that degree was long and involved, it took several days to celebrate its completion. (In colonial America, the celebrations included entertainment, wrestling, banquets, dances, and much drinking!). One of those days was Sunday, and thus, the origin of the baccalaureate sermon and worship service.
Kalona’s and Wellman’s baccalaureate services also used to be held on Sunday. And they used to include entertainment as well, though probably not the other amusements. The service for 1936 in Kalona was held at the Christian Church and featured the Community Orchestra under the direction of Mr. C. A. Bragg. Twelve members of the East Union chorus sang. And the Rev. J. L. Kemp of the Christian Church delivered the sermon. He said that “vision is necessary to advance in the world.” The newspaper adds that,” He told the facts so plainly that the graduates of the class as well as others of the audience could see the necessity of a vision as a goal toward which to strike.”
The Rev. Bobb Barrick of the Sharon Center United Methodist Church will deliver this year’s sermon. The facts of his case will, no doubt, be told so plainly that all will be able to so likewise.
Seniors from the choir and the band will provide special music. Clergy from the Council will take part. There will be refreshments afterwards. And the public is invited. Those who can remember “the good old days” will also get to sing the processional hymn used in the 1937 Wellman High School baccalaureate service: “O Worship the King.”