VHS baccalaureate service is Sunday The Vermillion High School Class of 2005, in cooperation with the Vermillion Ministerial Association, will present a baccalaureate service at First Methodist Church in Vermillion on Sunday, May 22, at 7 p.m.
All members of the Class of 2005, their parents, and the public are invited to attend this service. The graduating seniors will be wearing their graduation robes, and should arrive at the church about one-half hour before the service begins. Since this will be a religious service, attendance is of course voluntary on the part of the students.
The tradition of baccalaureate services goes back to the graduation practices of the universities of Europe, where higher education became popular toward the end of the Middle Ages. Since these universities were Christian institutions, two special events normally attended the completion of the course of study, a commencement exercise and a baccalaureate service.
Degrees were granted to the students at commencement, and thanksgiving to God, as well as seeking His guidance and protection for the future, were the purposes of the baccalaureate service. The name "baccalaureate" comes from the title of the college degree, a "baccalaureate degree," also called a "bachelor's degree."
The baccalaureate degree was considered more of a stepping stone to the master's degree, which in those times qualified one to teach in a university or obtain a position of leadership in church or government.
The commencement and baccalaureate events were brought to America when universities and colleges were founded here. Then, when "high schools" were begun to prepare students for life, or for college entrance, these events were taken over in virtually every high school in the United States.
With the recent desire by some in the U.S. to secularize our public life, courts have issued rulings requiring that religious events may not be sponsored by public schools, but that the "free exercise of religion" clause of the Constitution does allow voluntary events to be sponsored by students and communities where attendance is totally voluntary by those involved.
This year's baccalaureate service was planned by senior students meeting with a committee of the Vermillion Ministerial Association. Thirteen students will participate in the service by reading scripture or presenting musical selections. Three Vermillion pastors will lead in prayer and one, Dr. Robert Grossmann of Providence Reformed Church, will present the message titled, "With God Beside Me," based on Psalm 23. Coffee and cookies will be served in the church parlors following the service.