Matilda J. Barber smiles as she is presented with the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Anderson University by President of Anderson University, James L. Edwards and Anderson University Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean, Carl H. Caldwell Saturday afternoon during the schools 89th Commencement ceremony at Kardatzke Wellness Center.

Asking the hundreds of Anderson University’s new graduates to become “prophetic citizens,” commencement speaker Cheryl J. Sanders told them Saturday to retain their Christian values while forging their new careers and building their post-collegiate lives.

“Prophetic citizens are not gullible; they are not easily deceived,” said Sanders, senior pastor of the Third Street Church of God in Washington, D.C., since 1997. “Prophetic citizens don’t suspend their outrage when people in high places do the wrong thing.

“They see hospitality as a virtue, not a burden.”

Along with being the speaker for Anderson’s 89th commencement, Sanders was also awarded an honorary doctoral degree in divinity. Sanders is a professor of Christian ethics at the Howard University School of Divinity.

“She’s prepared herself well to serve as well as teach,” said James L. Edwards, Anderson University’s president.

Many of the about-to-be graduates were greeted with whoops and hollers as they entered the Kardatzke Wellness Center’s Ward Fieldhouse through a side door in a long procession for Saturday’s graduation ceremony.

The path to happiness, Sanders said, can be found in following God’s plan. And she prodded them to remember their Christianity as they begin earning paychecks in the work world.

“Prosperity, like peace, is a gift from God,” Sanders said. “The poor need not only action, but they need advocacy.”

Sanders wasn’t the only person receiving an honorary doctorate. Matilda Barber, a longtime fixture on many community boards and groups in Anderson, received an honorary doctor of humane letters.

“Matilda Barber is known throughout this city and central Indiana for her deep commitment to the well-being of our citizens,” said nursing professor Andrea W. Koepke in introducing Barber. “From an early age, she dedicated her life to serving those in need. She has held several positions of leadership in the nursing field and in the community, remaining active in her retirement.”

Barber, a former vice president of community relations for Saint John’s Health System, began her career with the health care group in 1964 as an instructor for the school of nursing. She has served on the Health Search Task Force and has volunteered at Saint John’s Children’s Clinic. She’s twice been appointed by an Indiana governor to serve on the state’s Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Council.

“Because you exemplify so many of this university’s virtues of faith, compassion and service, it is therefore wholly appropriate that Anderson University recognize you,” said Koepke.

Barber was humble in accepting the honorary doctoral degree.

“I’m indeed happy to receive this honorary degree,” she said. “To God be the glory for things done in my life.”

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