Baccalaureate: A Century-Old Westminster Tradition Explained

Below, Westminster Chaplain Jamie Haskins offers advice and information to seniors about Baccalaureate, a long-standing graduation tradition at Westminster.  Please note that Baccalaureate will be held off campus this year at the First Presbyterian Church.

What the heck does “Baccalaureate” even mean?
Baccalaureate is the worship service held every year on graduation day. It’s a Westminster tradition and we’ve held a baccalaureate worship service for over 100 years.  The baccalaureate service is believed to have originated at the University of Oxford in 1432.

I don’t usually go to church–should I still come?
Yep! This is a worship service held for all graduating seniors, their families, and the community. It’s about celebrating you and giving thanks for all you have accomplished in your time here.

Where is it?
This year, to honor Westminster’s historical relationship with the Presbyterian Church, we will hold Baccalaureate in the sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church (718 Court Street). It’s .5 miles away and right downtown—an easy walk. There will be signs directing you from campus to the church. If you  and your family prefer to drive, several area churches have blocked off their parking lots so there will be places to park.

What time do I show up?
The service begins at 10:30 on graduation day (Saturday, May 10th). Please arrive early in order to secure a seat.

Do I wear my cap and gown?
You’ll wear your gown—we don’t usually wear caps for Baccalaureate.  You will be sitting with your families for the service. You do not need to process.

Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any additional questions. I look forward to worshiping with you!

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