24 Inmates Graduate from College at Southeastern

Source: Baptist Press

Thanks to a partnership between the College at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, twenty-four incarcerated men in the North Carolina Corrections Department were wearing black caps and gowns as they strode across the stage of the Nash Correctional gym to receive their Bachelor of Arts diplomas in pastoral ministry.

They shook hands and posed for a photographer with Danny Akin, president of the College at Southeastern, the undergraduate school of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary..

For these men, about half of whom will spend the rest of their lives in prison with no chance of parole, the march to the stage at the prison, about 50 miles east of Raleigh, was a high-water mark of their life behind bars.

After spending long hours studying Hebrew, Greek, history, counseling, and theology, the new graduates can now breathe a sigh of relief as they culminate a four year process as part of the inaugural class of incarcerated persons graduating with degrees as a part of this partnership.

Of the 24 inmates, all graduated with honors and three graduated with 4.0 GPA.

Upon the completion of commencement exercises, the graduates will be assigned to 1 of the 55 prisons in the North Carolina Corrections department where they will serve out the remainder of their sentences while also ministering to their colleagues.

A jubilant Danny Akin said, “I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, I have never been more proud of any graduates that I have had the joy of presiding over.”

December’s commencement exercises marked the first time in the State of North Carolina’s history that inmates have matriculated through a four year in-person accredited bachelor’s program.

After the graduation ceremony, the graduates and their families were treated to a catered lunch with school faculty, friends, and prison officials.

Speaking to the graduates during post-commencement reception, Akin said, “You get to take the life-changing light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have value, men for whom Christ died.”

Responding, Loren Hammonds, a 43-year-old inmate serving a sentence of life without parole, said that’s exactly what he plans to do. “I want to give them hope,” he said, “and introduce them to the Gospel.”

Source: Baptist Press