Spring 2024 prison program graduates sent on mission

NASHVILLE, N.C. – Southeastern celebrated the spring 2024 graduating class of its North Carolina Field Minister Program (NCFMP) on Tuesday, May 14.

Friends, family and partners of this program joined together to honor and support the 17 men who crossed the stage and graduated as alumni of The College at Southeastern, equipped to go out as field ministers of the gospel.

In partnership with Nash Correctional Institution, the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction (NCDAC), and Game Plan for Life (GPL), Southeastern’s field minister program seeks to educate and equip incarcerated people of faith to serve and affect positive cultural change from the inside out.

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina also provided $69,500 in funds over a five-year period beginning in 2017 to assist Southeastern with costs associated with starting the program.

Rocky Wright, Southeastern’s director of prison programs and associate dean of The College at Southeastern, gave the welcoming address at graduation.

“Today,” Wright said, “we are pleased to present these men, graduating with a fully accredited Bachelor of Arts in pastoral ministry, all of whom will soon be deployed on field ministry teams to other facilities throughout the state of North Carolina to serve the incarcerated population. They will join the other graduated classes of field ministers already serving all over the state.” 

Wright added that, already, the fruit of these deployed field ministers is being seen as they are “making a huge impact in our state.”

“This program would not exist without the living God, to whom all glory and honor is due,” Wright said. “Ultimately, we are here today because of His providence and grace through Christ Jesus. The most important people in the program, however, are the very students themselves, including the men sitting right in front of us today. As you must know, they have overcome incredible odds, including specifically for this class, starting their degree at the outset of COVID.”

In his address, Wright took a moment to honor the late Adrianne Miles, a dearly loved faculty member of both The College at Southeastern and those within the NCFMP.

“As you know, and as she told you, she absolutely loved every minute of teaching you over the years. And you know, she prayed for you. And she was so very thankful for your prayers for her when she was battling cancer. She was proud of you,” Wright said, “even celebrating you because she knew where you would be sitting today. And she was excited for what the Lord has in store for you in the days ahead.”

Following Wright, Secretary of NCDAC Todd Ishee addressed the graduates, stating, “Today our agency and our state are watching you guys stand on the brink of a new chapter in your life. And please know that everyone in the department of adult corrections is proud of you. The state of North Carolina is proud of you.”

Ishee added, “Today our future is brighter because of each of you guys. We cannot wait to see the incredible work that you’re going to do.”

Joe Gibbs, founder of GPL, took a moment to encourage the graduates and speak to them of their future as field ministers. He reflected on the courage of Joshua and what it would look like to live a life of boldly stepping out as faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ.

Following Gibbs, Southeastern President Danny Akin gave his commencement address from 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, in which he spoke of the miracle, message and ministry of reconciliation found in Jesus Christ, a reconciliation for which believers become ambassadors.

“Brothers, go and be those kinds of ambassadors,” Akin challenged the graduates. “You will make us proud; but, better than that, Jesus from heaven will smile on you and the ministry of being His ambassador in these places that God has uniquely and sovereignly assigned just for you.”

Southeastern is honored to celebrate the achievement of these 17 new graduates and to welcome them into the ranks of Southeastern alumni.

Southeastern is also thankful for the partnership of those who have made this ministry possible and who have shared this vision for equipping incarcerated students for Great Commission ministry. Such partners include the Keesee Foundation and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, which helped in the foundation of the NCFMP and is also a sponsor of Southeastern’s prison program for women.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – To learn more about Southeastern’s prison program and ways in which you can support this ministry, please visit the website here.)  

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