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Summer 2004 | Volume 26, Number 7 | Features
What Will Their Stories Be?

2004 Graduates Are Challenged to See Their Lives as Part of God’s Storyright

ON JUNE 12, 2004, SEATTLE PACIFIC UNIVERSITY said farewell to 1,044 students — the largest graduating class in SPU history — at Commencement ceremonies held in Seattle’s Seahawks Stadium.

The Class of 2004 makes its way into Seahawks Stadium for SPU’s 113th Commencement ceremony.


More than 10,000 people looked on as members of the Class of 2004 were recognized for their academic achievement. Of the diplomas awarded this year, 775 were bachelor’s degrees and 269 were graduate degrees. Winners of Seattle Pacific’s top academic award, the President’s Citation, included doctoral degree recipient Faith Auton Cuff (clinical psychology) and bachelor’s degree recipient Julie Mullins (English).

Mark Abbott, senior pastor of Seattle’s First Free Methodist Church, gave the 2004 Commencement address. In his introduction of Abbott, SPU President Philip Eaton said, “We looked Storyright across the street and found a wise, faithful and distinguished voice in our midst. He is an anchor of spiritual guidance and wisdom for our campus.”

Abbott shared some of that wisdom with new graduates in an address titled “What Will Your Story Be?” He spoke of two paths students could take: one to assume that their life story is predetermined and unalterable, and the other to believe that their story can be whatever they want it to be. The most important thing, he urged, is to see their story in the context of God’s story. “Whose story — or which story — will you claim as your own?” he asked.

Following Abbott’s address, Zhou En Ying ’43 was presented with an honorary doctorate. En Ying, now 90, was abandoned as an infant in China and adopted by a Free Methodist missionary. She came to the United States and attended SPC in her early 20s. After earning her degree in religion, En Ying returned to China to serve in church ministry. During the communist takeover of that country, however, she came under suspicion because of her American connections. She was confined to a prison farm for 10 years and restricted in her movements for another 10 years. Upon her release in 1979, she was exonerated of all charges and went on to teach English at Lanzhou University until her retirement in 1993. Today, En Ying continues to serve the church in China.“

It makes me so happy to be able to stand here where I know that all can worship our God together and give the glory to him,” she said to the Commencement audience. “I hope your prayers will continue for all our young people in China.”

The afternoon was the culminating event in a series of graduation celebrations. On Friday, June 11, a Graduate Hooding Ceremony in Martin Square preceded the annual Ivy Cutting. An SPU tradition since the mid-1920s, this year’s Ivy Cutting was held in Royal Brougham Pavilion, due to weather, and included a quarter-mile of ivy stretched around the gymnasium’s perimeter. Eaton, Vice President for Academic Affairs Les Steele and the three retiring SPU faculty members cut a piece of ivy for each graduate. Later that evening, students, families and faculty members gathered in Brougham Pavilion for Baccalaureate services, followed by a reception in Gwinn Commons.

“When you look at the quality and commitment of SPU’s Class of 2004, you can’t help but have great hope for the future,” says Eaton. “They have already begun to engage the culture with the gospel; now they’re moving out into the world as graduates. We’re going to see great things from them.”


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