RLC prepares for Simpson’s 148th baccalaureate service


Simpsonian file photo

by Emily Carey, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — The end of the semester is just around the corner, and Simpson seniors are preparing for life after college.

For many of these seniors, the end will be a whirlwind of events leading up to spring commencement. However, Smith Chapel is offering a quiet, intimate gathering for the seniors the day before graduation.

The baccalaureate service is a longstanding Simpson tradition. This year will be the 148th service.

“[The baccalaureate] is a worship service that celebrates the academic pursuit of knowledge,” Mara Bailey, Simpson’s Chaplain, said. “It’s a part of commencement weekend activities.”

This year marks Bailey’s fifth baccalaureate service, including one service when she was a Simpson senior.

“It’s an opportunity for students to reflect about their time at Simpson, what they’ve learned and what they’ll miss, and they often connect those reflections to scriptures and other stories of faith,” Bailey said.

The service is planned by a group of senior students and is faith-based, but the group finds ways to keep the service as open as possible.

“We do have some people who are sharing who are nonreligious, and they will use poetry as a reading to reflect on things like that, some will share special music.”

Bailey’s favorite part of the baccalaureate is the personal feel the service provides.

“It’s an opportunity to hear a little bit more about students and their experiences at Simpson. There’s a faculty blessing and a faculty address,” she said. “It just feels a little bit more personal than all of the pomp and circumstances of commencement.”

Bailey also enjoys the connections between the seniors at the service.

“It’s one more chance to sit down together as a class and think about what you’ve learned, what you’ve gained, how you’re going out into the world based on everything you did during your time at Simpson,” Bailey said.

Bailey assembles a group of students to discuss who in their class will speak.

“They are the ones that give me the name and I give the invitation,” she said.

The group also reaches out to students to write prayers for the service.

The baccalaureate is an important event with important opportunities for both the religious and nonreligious groups.

“It’s more or less dual purpose. I think particularly for students who have made an effort to integrate their faith as a part of their college experience, it’s a nice ending to that and a good way to share that expression of themselves,” Bailey said. “This is a good way for them to think about what this moment in their lives means from a faith perspective, but I also think, again, it’s a really great opportunity, for anybody who comes, to just hear from and hear more of the stories of what people gained while they were here at Simpson.”

The service is at 7 p.m. on April 28 in Smith Chapel for seniors, family and friends, with a reception to follow.