The Rev. Sarah Moody Varnell, pastor at St. Paul United Methodist Church (Fountain City) in Knoxville, Tennessee, and 2005 graduate of Emory & Henry College, will be the preacher for the 2017 baccalaureate service at the College.
Baccalaureate services are held annually to honor the graduating class of Emory & Henry College. Baccalaureate is an interfaith worship service open to all as the community celebrates the achievements of members the current year's graduating class.
The baccalaureate service derives from the medieval European custom of presenting the candidates for the degree of Bachelor (bacca) with laurels (lauri) of sermonic oration. The Baccalaureate ceremony is a service of worship in celebration of and thanksgiving for lives dedicated to learning and wisdom.
The baccalaureate service is believed to have originated at the University of Oxford in 1432 when each bachelor was required to deliver a sermon in Latin as part of his academic requirements. Since the earliest universities in America were founded primarily to educate ministers, the British practice of the baccalaureate service was continued.