Graduate tradition in trouble

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A 13-year tradition of ending high school careers with a prayer is in jeopardy in Richmond County.

Each year, churches have come together to rent James Brown Arena for a baccalaureate service around graduation time. But for the past few years, Trinity-on-the-Hill United Methodist Church has shouldered the financial burden of sponsoring the community-wide interfaith service.

The annual event could end this year because of downturns in the economy and drops in church collections, Outreach and Missions Pastor Scott Parrish said Wednesday.

"I guess like everybody even churches are struggling. We base all of our ministries on what people can give," the Rev. Parrish said. "My fear is that if we don't quickly come up with co-sponsors, this great community event will die."

The church needs $7,000 to hold baccalaureate services, he said. The cost goes to renting the arena, printing bulletins and other costs. The event attracts about 5,000 students, family members and members of the community from all 10 Richmond County high schools.

"It really is a unique opportunity to gather the community," the Rev. Parrish said.

Anticipating a budget shortfall, he said, Trinity is reaching out to the school system and other churches for assistance.

"I think this is an opportunity to establish a broader partnership again," the pastor said. "It's a special tradition we'd like to keep alive."

Louis Svehla, the school system's director of public information, said efforts are being made to find a way to continue the tradition.

"It truly is an economy story. It's not a story about people not wanting to give," Mr. Svehla said. "As the economy goes down, people aren't giving as much."

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

HOW TO HELP

The Rev. Scott Parrish said donations to support the baccalaureate program can be made by giving to Trinity-on-the-Hill United Methodist Church and designating the gift for the program. For more information, call the church at (706) 738-8822.

Comments (24) Add comment
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kat30815
14
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kat30815 01/08/09 - 03:32 am
0
0
please open your wallets for

please open your wallets for this cause. its worth every penny.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 01/08/09 - 06:13 am
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Trinity-on-the-Hill thought

Trinity-on-the-Hill thought they were doing a kindness, but they were enabling the other churches to shirk their responsibilities. (Let the rich church pay, they can afford it) Now, when the chips are down, is when we will see who will step up and contribute their "fair share". This burden will be easy enough to bear with the right amount of help. (The "gummint" won't help with Christian endeavors.)

AugustaVoter
2
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AugustaVoter 01/08/09 - 09:04 am
0
0
Why are local churches

Why are local churches funding County government functions anyway? Where is the separation?

AugustaVoter
2
Points
AugustaVoter 01/08/09 - 09:04 am
0
0
I understand wanting to save

I understand wanting to save money by taking "donations" for graduation ceremonies but for the district to rely on public donations to hold graduation ceremonies is a disgrace. Must be another lingering Charles Larke thing.

lifelongresidient
0
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lifelongresidient 01/08/09 - 09:08 am
0
0
why not suspend all sports

why not suspend all sports programs for schools that graduate less than 50% of its senior class and does not meet ayp. that will free up quite a bit of money to be used for graduation and many ofther things

noone
4
Points
noone 01/08/09 - 09:16 am
0
0
ITs not THE Graduation

ITs not THE Graduation ceremony. Its a prayer service Done By the CHURCH for the graduates. I admit that i don't know exactly what BACCALAUREATE means , but i could tell from the context of the article that is not THE Graduation crermony

christian134
1
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christian134 01/08/09 - 09:19 am
0
0
The people need to step up to

The people need to step up to the plate and shoulder the costs of the graduation. God just wants an little bit of faith and hard work and the job will get done...Pray on it people...If God is in it the monies will be found...That is a certainty...

Frank
3
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Frank 01/08/09 - 10:36 am
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Augusta Voter...

Augusta Voter... "baccalaureate: A farewell address in the form of a sermon delivered to a graduating class." This article refers to the tradition of Trinity on the Hill holding this service every year since as a single service for all Richmond County graduating seniors. It is NOT funded by the government due to the separation of church and state. it is NOT a government sponsored function. It is NOT the actual graduation ceremony that is in jeopardy, but instead the baccalaureate service volunteered by a single church in recent years. It is essentially a request for other churches in the area to pull their weight.

InChristLove
22473
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InChristLove 01/08/09 - 11:03 am
0
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Thank you Frank for that

Thank you Frank for that explanation! I attended last year and this is a wonderful ceremony that brings students, family members and friends, from all walks of life and racial backgrounds together to pray over these graduates. Hopefully other area churches will contribute so this tradition can continue.

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 01/08/09 - 11:17 am
0
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I remember mine back in 81,

I remember mine back in 81, wasn't it done then by the RCBOE? This is news to me. Where can I send my donation.

HillGuy
7
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HillGuy 01/08/09 - 11:25 am
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How about each church have

How about each church have their own baccalaureate service at their own church for their own members who are graduating?

KingJames
10
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KingJames 01/08/09 - 11:27 am
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Thanks for your explanation

Thanks for your explanation Frank. I remember going to my baccalaureate service. I had no idea that it was optional because it was a religious event. The advisors at school just told us what time to be at the Civic Center (as it was called back then). It was more than 13 years ago, though. This is definetly a tradition that needs to continue. Most churches pray for their graduates, but it is nice to have graduates from all 10 schools come together. I can still remember how good it was to see the entire graduating class from all Richmond County high schools together in one place, even though I only knew the graduates from Glenn Hills.

Frank
3
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Frank 01/08/09 - 11:28 am
0
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Most churches do, this is a

Most churches do, this is a service where all can come together as a group.

KingJames
10
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KingJames 01/08/09 - 11:32 am
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HillGuy, its more impressive

HillGuy, its more impressive and memorable to the graduate when it is done altogether. Besides, it's a tradition, and the exspense should be shared by all churches in the county. I suppose they could accept donations from the churches and even the general public. Any monies left over after the ceremony is paid for should be donated to the BOE. That's just my opinion, though.

HillGuy
7
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HillGuy 01/08/09 - 12:18 pm
0
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Well then ALL of the churches

Well then ALL of the churches should step up to the plate and chip in, and not rely on one to do so. If this is a such an important tradition, then it should not be a problem to get all of the churches to participate. With as many churches there are in Richmond county, it should not be that much money for each church, if they all contribute something.

dale88fan
0
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dale88fan 01/08/09 - 12:57 pm
0
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why cant the graduating

why cant the graduating classes get together and hold car washes and or something that will raise money? My children are a few years out from graduating and I would like this to still be around for years and generations to come. I will also donate time and or money if there is a plan generated. The kids should be out stomping the grounds of local businesses to generate this money! Can any local businesses step up and donate money and or items to raffle for this cause?

jackfruitpaper833
41
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jackfruitpaper833 01/08/09 - 01:01 pm
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0
KingJames this event has been

KingJames this event has been going on for years, I finished in 81 and remember mine quite well, in fact that was something I couldn't wait to attend as a graduate. This is news to me that the churches have been financing it for the past thirteen years, I've always thought the Board did it.

devilishlymad67
0
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devilishlymad67 01/08/09 - 01:17 pm
0
0
The churches had to take it

The churches had to take it over because some butthole whined that the schools shouldn't bless graduates or wish them well. Ours was held in the school gym in 1986 and everyone attended with their families. No one ever complained!

HillGuy
7
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HillGuy 01/08/09 - 01:37 pm
0
0
This is something that should

This is something that should be sponsored by Churches and NOT the school board. You can't spit in this county and not hit a church, so come one people, if every church contributed about $25 each, it should be enough to stage the event.

sanders23
0
Points
sanders23 01/08/09 - 02:08 pm
0
0
jackfruitcake..."This is news

jackfruitcake..."This is news to me that the churches have been financing it for the past thirteen years, I've always thought the Board did it.". And you were ok with that?....Dude..I would be [filtered word] off if my friggin tax money was spent for this.

AugustaVoter
2
Points
AugustaVoter 01/08/09 - 06:00 pm
0
0
Thanks for straightening me

Thanks for straightening me out Frank. When I originally read the article it was missing a few words that made it sound as though it was the graduation ceremony. And I might add that I have only been in Augusta for about 5 years and never attended RCBOE schools. When I attended schools in Texas, each church had its own service for its Senior high school members. This is the bible belt so that explains the service.

AugustaVoter
2
Points
AugustaVoter 01/08/09 - 06:03 pm
0
0
IMHO, if it is a worthwhile

IMHO, if it is a worthwhile tradition, I would think that the Coliseum Authority would "donate" the use of the facility for a good cause. Hell, they could use the tax write offs.

HillGuy
7
Points
HillGuy 01/08/09 - 07:43 pm
0
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Hey, ActiveVoter, I think

Hey, ActiveVoter, I think Texas has the right idea. Let the churches host it.

Magda1129
7
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Magda1129 01/09/09 - 05:32 am
0
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I graduated from ARC in 1963.

I graduated from ARC in 1963. Our baccalaureate service was held at Bell Auditorium on the Sunday morning prior to graduation the following Friday. It was assumed that everyone attended the sevice, although most likely there were some who were "excused." The ARC band played and one of our classmates played the organ. The service was a very meaingful part of the whole graduation experience. It was a non-denomonational Protestant service. A different minister from different denominations spoke each year . There were only 4 public high schools in the county -- ARC, Butler, Laney, and Hephzibah, and each held their own baccalaureate service in those days.

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