PLAINVIEW—Damon Pearce, worship pastor at Central Baptist Church in Clovis, N.M., made history during Wayland Baptist University’s spring commencement when he became the first person to graduate from Wayland’s School of Religion and Philosophy with a master of divinity degree.
Wayland began offering the graduate degree in the fall 2013 semester. Pearce, who took several required courses prior to that date, enrolled with some of the required 86 hours completed.
“I’ve never been first at anything in my life,” Pearce joked. “I was a little ahead of the game. That’s why I’m finishing earlier. It’s not because I’m smarter than anybody else, I can assure you.”
Pearce already earned a master in Christian ministry degree from Wayland in 2011. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University and a music degree from Houston Baptist University. After spending a few years in the newspaper business, he began full-time church ministry in 1989 and is in his sixth year at Central Baptist Church.
Pearce expressed gratitude for the external campuses in Clovis and Lubbock, as well as the online offerings, that allowed him to complete his coursework.
“I think it’s a fairly unique experience,” he said. “The quality of the instruction and the personal interaction and relationships you build … I’m happy to be a Wayland alum.”
Although Pearce is the first to earn a master of divinity degree from Wayland, he was afraid he might not be able to attend his own graduation ceremony. His oldest daughter, Meghan, was scheduled to graduate from Eastern New Mexico University this spring. At one point, Pearce worried the ceremonies would fall on the same day.
“In that case, I would have had to tell Dr. Sadler (dean of Wayland’s School of Religion and Philosophy), ‘I’m sorry,’” Pearce said. “But we lucked out.”
Eastern New Mexico scheduled its commencement the week after Wayland’s ceremony.