Formal activities for Commencement 2019 at Austin College will begin Saturday, May 18, with a Baccalaureate Service at 7 p.m. in Wynne Chapel. Faculty and seniors will process into the chapel in academic regalia, led by the 50-year reunion celebrants of the Class of 1959.
Rev. John Wurster, pastor of St. Philip Presbyterian Church in Houston, will present the Baccalaureate sermon, “Named and Known.” Following a welcome from Austin College President Steven O’Day, the service also will include music by members of the Austin College A Cappella Choir, led by Dr. Wayne Crannell.
Wurster, who will receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Austin College during Commencement exercises Sunday, has served as pastor of St. Philip Presbyterian Church in Houston since 2012. Ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1991, he has also served congregations in Philadelphia, northwest Ohio, and Kerrville, Texas.
The pastor grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas, and earned his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Trinity University, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and the Doctor of Ministry degree from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Wurster has published books of sermons and articles on liturgical practice and has written several essays for the new, multi-volume biblical commentary series, Connections.
A member of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, John regularly serves on leadership teams for national worship and music conferences in the Presbyterian Church (USA). For several years, he was an adjunct preaching instructor at Austin Seminary.
Previously a trustee of the Presbyterian Pan American School in Kingsville, Texas, and of Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas, Wurster currently is a member of the boards of The Presbyterian Outlook magazine and Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston.
John’s wife, Deborah Burks, is a former English professor now working on a novel set in 16th-century London.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities.One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with 46 percent of students identifying as persons of color. The residential student body of approximately 1,300 students and more than 100 expert faculty members allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. This year, the campus recognizes 100 years of co-education and has had several opportunities to recognize the history of women and accomplishments of current alumnae. Austin College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.