The annual baccalaureate service for Chillicothe High School graduating seniors, sponsored by the Chillicothe Ministerial Alliance, took place Thursday evening at Gary Dickinson Performing Arts Center.

The annual baccalaureate service for Chillicothe High School graduating seniors, sponsored by the Chillicothe Ministerial Alliance, took place Thursday evening at Gary Dickinson Performing Arts Center. The Chillicothe Orchestral Ensemble played while the seniors made their procession into the center. The ceremony began with a congregational hymn “Amazing Grace.” The Rev. Tommy Sandefer, pastor of Souls Harbor Church of God, gave the invocation. CHS seniors Samara Smyer and Brynlee Faulkner read the scripture. Senior Brynlee Faulkner, flautist, played G.F. Handel’s Sonata No. 5 and was accompanied by Carolyn Johnson. Senior Choralier members sang “City Called Heaven.” The baccalaureate message was delivered by the Rev. Chris Leach, pastor of Free Methodist Church. In his message, Leach noted that while a new chapter was ending in the lives of the graduates, a new one was about to begin. “That is exciting; and, with the excitement, comes many other emotions,” he said. There will be tears not only by the graduates, but also by their parents and grandparents. “Time has gone by so fast,” he said. “You are no longer the infant in our arms. We have watched as you moved from kindergarten through 12th grade and along the way, you faced many challenges.” Challenges may have ranged from eating something you don’t like as a young child to struggling to ‘fit in’ as a teen-ager, he said. “In a few days, you will graduate and the challenges will continue,” he said. “Ask around, adults are still ‘trying to fit in’ and some ‘still feel insecure.’” Although the challenges will continue, they don’t have to get in the way of success, Leach said. He noted that success can come in different forms. “I truly believe you can be successful the way God created you,” he said. “You can be successful the way God wired you.” He read the scripture, Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.” “I am not saying financially rich, financially secure,” Leach said. “More importantly, spiritually rich, spiritually secure.” Leach suggested to the graduates to know the Lord and his voice. “Gaining recognition of God’s voice happens as we connect with him,” he said. “... as we surround ourselves with him, his presence; as we dig deeper in his word, a word that is key for success.” “God is calling you,” he told the graduates. To hear his voice may mean to stop what you’re doing and listen... turn off the movie, pull off to the side of the road and just listen. “Separate yourself from the distraction and listen,” Leach said. “... pray, read the Bible, and listen. Don’t look at the phone and swipe ignore... answer his call.” In conclusion, Leach read from Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” The 2018 baccalaureate service closed with the congregation singing “How Great Thou Art,” the benediction by the Rev. Rob Hurtgen, of First Baptist Church, and the orchestral ensemble playing for the recessional.