Pastor Jay McCluskey of North Cleveland Baptist prayed over the ladies before Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland approached the front.
He reminded the graduates someone took the time and initiative to pray for them. He suggested they do the same for another person.
“I want to challenge all of you who graduate today from this Christian Women’s Job Corps. There are other people in the community who are going to need you, just as you perhaps needed somebody who was a mentor to you,” Rowland said. “So, go out in the community. Find someone who is in a situation that needs prayer, guidance. Share what you have learned here. Pass it on.”
Graduates Donna Clark, Christy Rogers, DeAnna Stowers and honorable mention Dorothea O’Shaughnessy remained attentive as Sgt. Ruthie Forgey of the Salvation Army followed Rowland.
She took to the stage and met the gazes of the graduates, mentors and guests.
“This is the accumulation of all the hard work you began 16 weeks ago,” Forgey said. “From the first day when you came in feeling awkward, wondering if you could do this. Then you got a little more comfortable and thought, ‘I can do this.’”
She praised the four graduates for seeing the program through to the end.
Forgey presented several Bible verses to the grads, including Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us ...”
According to Forgey, the Lord is going to ask the graduates to perform tasks they never felt were within their abilities. At the same time, “the enemy” will attempt to grow a sense of doubt in themselves.
“Just remember, [the enemy] is a liar,” she said. “[God] says you are a new creature and you are redeemed. He says that you are transformed by the renewing of your mind, by the reading of his word. He said you are more than a conquerer.”
She reminded the graduates they are the head, not the tail, wherever they go.
“So, when the enemy comes and he has those false accusations that seem true, they feel true — see, this is what I know about the enemy. He never speaks to us in an enemy’s voice,” Forgey said. “He speaks to us in our own voice. When you begin to hear those thoughts in your head and he comes to tell you what you cannot do, you go back to the [Bible].”
Site Coordinator Sue Bennett and Jobs for Life Instructor Edna Polier presented each graduate with certificates for both programs.
Clark was the first to face the crowd of supporters and friends.
“I would just like to let everybody know ... each one of you ladies were like the rock we stand on that got us through week to week,” she said. “It was like they just uplifted us in prayer and got us through the whole thing. That just meant the world.”
Stowers followed on her heels with another thanks from the heart.
“All of the ladies, everyone, that sowed their seed into me, God is going to let you reap plentiful. There will be a season you will harvest,” she said. “I love you guys.”
Rogers finished off the graduation remarks.
“I have just enjoyed the Bible study and all of the encouragement from all of the women,” she said. “It has helped me to come out of my shell during the class.”
Bennett offered a special thanks to McCluskey for the use of the North Cleveland Baptist sanctuary during the graduation.
Speaker Coordinator Marilyn Elkins and Polier were recognized for their help the last six sessions. The two decided to take off the next session. Bennett thanked them for their hard work and dedication.
She also recognized community sponsors: Bliss (an AVEDA day spa and hair salon), A Heavenly Touch Day Spa, Bradley Baptist Association, Cleveland High School Cosmetology, Cleveland State Community College, Community Action Network, Family Resource Agency, Lee University, Life Care Centers of America, Neighbors in Need, First Baptist Church, Randstad Staffing Corporate, Southeast Tennessee Workforce Development, Southern Heritage Bank, the Caring Place and Westwood Baptist Church.
Those interested in enrolling in the next session contact CWJC at 665-9681, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website, www.christianwomenjobs.org.