By Christopher Tobutt
The Centre for Theological Leadership Training (CTLT) held its fourth graduation at the Church of God of Prophesy Victory Tabernacle on Sunday 27 June. The institution provides tuition in all aspects of theology and pastoral care, at Certificate and Diploma, Bachelors and Masters and Doctorate level. It was begun by Rev. Director of CTLT Bishop Dr. PJ Lawrence, who has much experience in beginning new theological learning institutions since graduating, and being ordained in Bangalore, India, 50 years ago this month, making the ceremony into a double-celebration.
The ceremony began with the singing of the National Song, by Sis. Melissa Smith. Then there was a bible reading by Bro. Winston Vernon, from 2 Timothy 2.11-16 “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Director of CTLT Bishop Dr. PJ Lawrence read from the CTLT report: “In the fourth graduation service today, we now have 17 graduates having completed the M. A. Theology Program. It includes our very first, three oversees students,” Dr. Lawrence said, “The second batch of 20 are graduating with Diploma in Theology, and 23 students graduating with the Certificate in Theology. As of date, a total of 200 have graduated from CTLT.”
CTLT began with classroom facilities, meeting on week nights at the Triple C School, but covid-19 saw the introduction of Zoom! lectures, which turned out to be a blessing-in-disguise because it now means that CTLD can reach more students, many of whom have busy family and work commitments, within their own homes. All the lectures are recorded, too so that if students should miss them, they still have the chance of catching up later. There are still class get-togethers though, so that the sense of real-life fellowship is not lost, and one of them was the big graduation banquet held at St. George’s Church Hall, the night before the graduation.
In his Keynote Address, The Rt. Rev. Kevin Francis Donlon spoke to the graduans via a big TV screen, as he encouraged them not to compare themselves to one another: “Others might be inherently gifted in areas you’re not gifted in,” he said, “For some of us, we have to work twice as hard, but it doesn’t matter we’re not called to be successful, we’re called to be faithful, using the gifts god has given you to the best of your ability is faithfulness.”
Rev Steve Brady, pastor of the First Baptist Church spoke on running the race of faith, as he read the scripture, Hebrews Chapter 12, “Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Each of the graduates came up to the stage, as their names were called, to receive their certificates, diplomas and degrees.
During the speech Valedictorian Ewart Wilkinson said: “A graduation like this, marks a significant transitional moment in our lives. It celebrates all the hard work we have put in, all the sacrifices we have made, as well as the successes we have achieved. I’d like to paraphrase from the Book of Esther (4:14), and rather than ask a question, declare: “For I know that we have come to the Cayman Islands and CTLT for such a time as this.”