Biola celebrated the largest graduating class in university history in May, awarding nearly 1,000 degrees during a spring commencement that included inspiring addresses from influential evangelical leaders Kay and Rick Warren.
Kay Warren — author of Choose Joy and co-founder of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. — delivered the keynote address at both the graduate and undergraduate ceremonies. In her speech, titled “The Center of It All,” Warren spoke of two truths she learned to appreciate in a new way this year following the highly publicized death of her youngest son, Matthew, in 2013: compassion for other human beings and love for Jesus and his church.
Citing the role of the church in Ephesians 1:22-23, Warren urged graduates to “not walk past the church of Jesus Christ in your pursuit of your chosen career.”
“The church is it,” she said. “God has put all his eggs in the church basket. If we don’t get it done, it will not get done.”
During the evening undergraduate ceremony, the university bestowed honorary doctorates on both of the Warrens — the first time they had received such an honor together. Rick tearfully thanked the crowd for their prayers during the “worst year of our lives” and told graduates, “I am so proud of you, and I will just leave this with you: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.”
Both ceremonies also featured the presentation of Biola’s inaugural Charles W. Colson Conviction and Courage Award, given posthumously to author and ministry leader Chuck Colson. President Barry H. Corey said the annual award will “honor the legacy of this heroic Christian leader” by recognizing individuals “who demonstrate commitment to the unshakable truths of a biblical worldview, which is conviction, as well as a willingness to act on biblical convictions to serve the least advantaged, however risky or challenging it may be, which is courage.” Colson’s son Christian was present to accept the award on his late father’s behalf.
In addition to being the largest commencement in Biola’s history, the event was also notable for its location. After years of being held on Metzger Lawn, the spring ceremonies were moved for the first time to South Field in order to accommodate larger crowds and ease congestion in the central part of campus. The move doubled the capacity of the previous setup, adding 4,000 seats and extra lawn space on top of that.