December Graduation 2018November 28, 2018 (Jackson, MIss.) - Two commencement ceremonies will honor Belhaven University graduates on Saturday, December 15, 9:30 a.m. This year the University has double the number of graduates and added another venue to make room for graduates and their families.

Traditional, adult, and graduate students from the Jackson, Atlanta, and Houston campuses will have their ceremony at Thalia Mara Hall, 255 East Pascagoula Street. Students from Belhaven's Online, Memphis, and Desoto campuses will have their ceremony at New Hope Baptist Church, 1561 Beasley Road.

Dr. Lonnie J. Allison, pastor of evangelism and development at Wheaton Bible Church in the Chicago area, will be the commencement speaker at the Thalia Mara ceremony. Dr. Allison is also an instructor and has taught master and doctoral evangelism courses at Multnomah University, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, North Park Theological Seminary, and Northern Seminary and is a visiting professor at Wheaton College Graduate School.

He holds a Doctor of Ministry in Homiletics from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Master of Arts in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Science from California State University.

Dr. Allison served as a youth minister, pastor of four churches, director of evangelism and prayer for a denomination, and for 15 years served as executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. He has been a guest speaker at churches and conferences the world over for the past 40 years.

He has published four books: Going Public with the Gospel, That the World May Believe, a brief biography of John R. Mott, (im)POSSIBLE, Discover the Joy of a Prayer, Care, Share Life and Billy Graham, An Ordinary Man and His Extraordinary God. He is a consulting editor for Outreach magazine, and has published numerous articles on topics of evangelism, spiritual formation, preaching, church growth, and leadership. He also has a professional background in music and theater, as a professional actor and musician, with credits on stage and television. His presentations to churches and conferences often combine speaking, music, and drama in an informative and compelling way.

Dr. Allison has the title of Honorary Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, and serves as chairman of the board of Leighton Ford Ministries, vice-chair of the U.S. Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and the Mission America Coalition, and is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals. He participates as a member of Dr. Leighton Ford's Point Group, which is a team of ten evangelism leaders from around the world. And he directs a mentoring fellowship of nine younger evangelism leaders from four countries. He and his wife Marie reside in West Chicago, Illinois. They have three adult children and two granddaughters.

Dr. Jerry Young, President of National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. and Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, will be the honored commencement speaker at the New Hope location. His service began at Mt. Tennia Baptist Church in Lamont, Miss. and then extended to serving as pastor of St. John Baptist Church and Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, both in Greenville,Miss. Dr. Young has faithfully led the vibrant congregation of New Hope Baptist Church since 1980. He is the founder and headmaster of New Hope Christian Pre-School and New Hope Christian Elementary School, together serving 300 plus students.

An avid scholar and life-long learner, Dr. Young attended Nugent Center High School in Bolivar County and went on to attain an Associate of Arts in Social Science from Coahoma Junior College. He received a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Social Welfare from Rust College. He then earned a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry from Reformed Theological Seminary.

Dr. Young has led his congregation to embrace a vision for ministry and missions. Under his watchful care, he has led New Hope to experience growth physically, spiritually and influentially for the cause of Christ. To date, the ministry is comprised of over 3,000 members and 44 ministries. As a mission-driven institution, New Hope excels in ministries and missions, from the church's backyard all the way to Honduras and Africa.

Active in the community, Dr. Young has served on several local, state and national boards and has been awarded numerous prestigious honors and awards. In addition, he is a regularly invited guest to speak/lecture at the various schools, colleges, and school districts throughout Mississippi and across the nation. A highly-skilled and sought-after minister, Dr. Young has had the opportunity to preach in pulpits across the country and has breached several racial and denominational lines, touching them with the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Young is married to Mrs. Helen Akins Young. They are the proud parents of two daughters, Dr. Jerlen Nelson and Kelli Elizabeth (Benjamin) Hart. Adding to their life's joy are their three granddaughters and one grandson.