Alcorn State University hosted its annual worship service to congratulate and motivate future alumni.
The Spring 2023 Baccalaureate Convocation was held Wednesday, May 10, at the historic Oakland Memorial Chapel. Bishop Linwood Dillard, founding pastor of the Citadel of Deliverance Church of God in Christ, delivered the ceremonial speech.
Dillard’s church is one of the Memphis area’s most thriving and ascending ministries. Dillard is also a musician, author, administrator, businessman, and director and has been recognized for his leadership skills and organizational abilities in religious and social communities.
In 2009, Dillard was appointed president of the International Youth Department of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). Under his leadership, the department has advanced through utilizing technology, a contemporary organizational structure, and a team strategy to meet the challenges of today’s youth. In 2006, he was selected by EBONY Magazine as one of the 30 young leaders under the age of 30.
Dillard earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering with chemical and environmental concentrations from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Dillard, speaking from 1 Peter 4:10, titled his message “Work your Grace,” a sermon encouraging students to utilize their abilities to honor God. He spoke about how their destiny was prepared before their inception.
“It’s important and mindful that, as much as we’ve made choices relative to our educational pursuits, we cannot exclude God from our lives,” said Dillard. “If it weren’t for God, we wouldn’t be here. Understand that before you arrived at this moment, God has had you on his mind for a long time. Before we have any substance of ourselves or conceived in our mother’s womb, we are first conceived in the mind of God.”
Dillard preached about our purpose being given to us by God and how He always remembers the gifts and tasks assigned to us.
“Before God gives us stature and ability, he gives us our purpose. Our purpose is God’s original, pre-determined, settled, unchanging intent for our lives. God pre-determined before we were manifested and conceived what, who, and when we should be. We’re not here by accident or incident but by God’s divine intent. So even when it doesn’t seem like it, I’m still on God’s mind.”
Even in times of trouble, Dillard assured the audience that God is still with us.
“God does not change his mind about us, even when we mess up. He’s already given us a way to escape whenever we mess up. Our mistakes don’t cancel what God has in mind for us. He gave us His son, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for us so He could become our Advocate so that when we sin, we’d have an Advocate with the Father who is faithful and just to forgive us of all our sins.”
Dillard spoke about how we are blessed with different gifts and how focusing on what God has done for others could deter us from being blessed.
“Part of our purpose is that he gives us certain abilities, talents, and opportunities to fulfill His purpose. God doesn’t do anything by accident. He gives us the ability to fulfill whatever He has intended for us to do. We are gifted because God is big enough to bless us all. If God is big enough to give us all a different fingerprint, then God is big enough to give us a different purpose. That means that there is no reason for competition, comparison, or jealousy because we have been wonderfully made by God.”
Interim Provost Dr. Joyce Buckner-Brown concluded by encouraging the students to applaud their supporters for cheering them on along their journey.
“With the relentless support of your family and Alcorn faculty and staff, you have made it,” said Brown. “This commendable accomplishment would not have occurred without compassionate people urging you to continue onto excellence. Your Alcorn foundation will serve as an anchor for the rest of your lives,” said Brown.