December was a time of tassel turning at Tennessee Bible College.


Six graduates from diverse backgrounds and locations were honored during the college’s 31st graduation ceremony Dec. 2. The event marked the 39th year since the first graduating class in 1982 and was a celebration of 46 years of Christian education at TBC.

TBC President, David Hill, speaking at TBC’s 31st Graduation Ceremony.

VP of Academics and Academic Affairs, Kerry Duke, presenting the Diploma of Preaching to Otor Opeiw.

“This was one of the most enjoyable graduation ceremonies we have ever had,” TBC Vice President Kerry Duke said. “There is a certain amount of formality that is expected because of the respect we have for the gravity of the work. At the same time, it was good to have an element of spontaneity. One of the comments that we have heard quite often in recent years from graduates is that they feel like TBC is their family. That is all the more encouraging in light of the fact that we had graduates from four U.S. states and one foreign country – South Sudan.”


The graduates include Mark Mitchell of Wilson, Nc., Joshua Brown of Bowling Green, Ky., Johnny Thomas of Boston, Mass., Christopher Elliott of Texarkana, Ark., Derrick Stiles of Warren County, Tenn., and Otor Aghany Opeiw of Wilson County, Tenn.


Mitchell, an adjunct professor at TBC, earned the Doctor of Theology.


“Mark has done excellent work through the master’s and now doctoral program,” TBC President David Hill said. “He has been helping to teach in the online campus during his time of study.”


Brown received the Master of Theology, having done most of his work online with special studies on campus. 

Joshua Brown being hooded for the Masters of Theology degree during the TBC Graduation ceremony.

“He has distinguished himself in excellence of research,” Hill said. “He has taught a few classes based on the research work he has done.” 


Thomas is a recipient of the Master of Theology through TBC’s online college.


“Johnny has been a speaker in our annual Renew program and has been an encouragement to faculty and students through his journey,” Hill said. “He has done something that many of his age do not do. He has challenged himself with advanced study and has done it well.” 


Elliott completed his undergraduate studies earlier this year but wanted to be part of December’s formal graduation ceremony.


“Kyle earned the Bachelor of Religious Education degree and did so with honors,” Hill said. “He completed the entirety of his work in the online campus.” 


Stiles earned the Bachelor of Religious Education.

Derrick Stiles accepting the Bachelor of Religious Education Degree.

“Derrick has had a blended experience with study on campus and online,” Hill said. “He comes from a family of preachers and grew up with a respect for those who preach the gospel of Christ.”


Opeiw earned the Diploma of Preaching.


Opeiw accepting the Diploma of Preaching. 

“Born in Sudan, Africa, Otor wanted to know about Christ,” Hill said. “He was led in many directions until, after moving to America, he found one who taught the Bible and the Bible only. He has studied online to earn the undergraduate Diploma of Preaching.”


TBC is authorized by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to confer its degrees. With the graduating class of 2021, the college has 134 graduates from all its programs, with alumni in 21 states and eight foreign countries serving the church of Christ. 


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-Amy Davis, TBC Correspondent