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Booth Urges Graduating Seniors to Serve by Returning to Their Neighborhoods

By ADD SEYMOUR JR.

(May 15, 2010) -- In a rousing Baccalaureate address to the approximately 520 members of the class of 2010, the Rev. Charles E. Booth challenged them to return to their neighborhoods and serve their communities.

“The reality this afternoon is the hood is in trouble. The hood lies in ruins,” Booth said to shouts from the 2,500 people gathered in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel and an overflow crowd of 500 in the Executive Conference Center and the Bank of America. “The question I pose to you is will you return to the ruins with the determination to rebuild the walls that have been torn down – walls of morality, the walls of ethics, walls of social inclination, the walls of mental and social stability?”

The Baccalaureate service allowed graduating seniors a final opportunity to recognize spirituality as a fundamental enterprise in liberal arts education, said Lawrence E. Carter Sr., dean of the King Chapel.

“Religion and faith play integral roles in adding meaning and depth to the human experience,” he told the graduating seniors. “What you are, the world is. And without your transformation there can be no transformation of the world.”

Booth, senior pastor of Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, hit several points that reverberated with the appreciative crowd, among them the fact that the parents and families sacrificed to put the class of 2010 through college and leadership should be wrapped in service and not selfishness.

“Your first challenge as you think about going out back to those ruins, not to rest but to invigorate,” he said. “The call for you today is not to become selfish, not to look at what you consider to be a good paycheck, not to be concerned about building a home out in suburbia so that you can enjoy the American dream. Your challenge is to return where you come from so that you can lift somebody up from out of the depths as you have been."

Saturday’s Baccalaureate service is one of many events during Commencement/Reunion 2010. The highlight of the weekend will be at 8 a.m. on Sunday when the graduating seniors get their diplomas before 10,000 people gathered on the Century Campus. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will deliver the commencement address.

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