LEHIGH CHRISTIAN ACADEMY ‘Let your light shine wherever you are’
The four graduates of Lehigh Christian Academy (LCA) made history June 4, as the group marked the first high school graduation at the Allentown school since 1988. The graduates took the first step into their future during commencement exercises in the sanctuary of Cedar Crest Bible Fellowship Church.
The graduates wore caps and gowns of green, a color in sync with spring and new beginnings, for that’s what this evening was – the school honored its legacy and also looked to a bright future, beginning with its first high school graduation in 33 years.
In 2016, the pre-kindergarten to eighth grade Christian school made the commitment to implement a high school as its vision for future growth. The 2020-21 school year represents the culmination of the first 12th grade class of Lehigh Christian Academy High School (LCAHS). The oldest Christian school in the Lehigh Valley, LCA is celebrating its 47th year.
Graduating were Natanila Agentis and Isabella Kauffman of Bethlehem; valedictorian Molly Smith of Salisbury; and Sean Cousland of Center Valley. Kauffman was unable to attend the ceremony.
After the board, faculty and class of 2021 proceeded into the sanctuary, Barbara Williams, retired Head of School, offered the invocation.
“Tonight is all about legacy,” said Head of School Elizabeth Hauser as she welcomed everyone to the historic evening.
Pastor Tim Young, retired pastor of Living Hope Presbyterian Church, Allentown, offered the commencement address. Pastor Young is the son-in-law of Pastor Kenneth Smith, the late founding pastor of LCA, who was remembered during the ceremony.
“We are thankful that Pastor Smith was used by God and answered the call 47 years ago,” Hauser said, recalling the school’s founding. Pastor Smith’s children were gifted with a picture of their father and “a perennial that will bloom each year as a remembrance of your father’s life, legacy and faith,” Hauser said.
Addressing students, Pastor Young recalled LCA’s founding, and even serving the school as a bus driver, which he said he enjoyed.
On a more serious note, he referenced scripture – the 29th chapter of Jeremiah – and drew parallels between the Jews living in exile in Babylon, a pagan country, and the LCA graduates living in an increasingly secular United States. “I’m glad I live in America, but it has changed.”
Pastor Young advised the graduates to follow the guidance God gave the Jews in Babylon: stay, don’t stray, obey and pray.
“Live a normal life, don’t isolate yourself. This is your country – live in it and be a part of it as Christians.
“Live in the world but don’t adopt its ways. You’re called to shine your light as Christians in the world,” Pastor Young said, cautioning they may be ridiculed in college for living their faith.
“Live in this culture and do your best to make sure it’s the best culture. You want to live in a way that others will come to the Lord – be gracious and care about others.”
“You’re not to hide your lamp but let your light shine wherever you are,” Pastor Young said. “The Lord will use you to make America the best it can be until the Lord returns.”
Highlights of the ceremony included Agentis’ graduate testimony, Smith’s valedictorian address and a graduate performance by Cousland, one of the top Celtic dancers in the world, who has been in competitions worldwide.
In a moving testimony, Agentis recounted her journey from her native Ethiopia to the Bethlehem home of her adoptive parents, Nate and Melanie Agentis. “I’m thankful for my two moms and one dad,” she said of her birth and adoptive mothers and father.
Agentis said her favorite Bible passage is Matthew 7: 7-8: “Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks will receive, and anyone who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to him who knocks.”
“God taught me whatever your broken heart, let people in,” Agentis said.
“Whatever you do, God is with you. I see my life begin again today. Thank you to my parents, grandparents and teachers, I love you all so much.”
“LCA instilled in us a desire to help others that will stay with us,” Smith said, urging fellow graduates to keep Christ as the center of their plans. “I’m grateful to everyone and so excited to see how God will use our lives in the future.”
In keeping with LCA’s Christ-centered education, the ceremony included a scripture reading, prayers and hymns.
To the first class of graduating seniors, LCA announced the “Lehigh Christian Academy’s Legacy Scholarship Fund” to both honor the first graduating class and the school’s legacy by establishing a scholarship (award) to a selected graduating senior going on to higher education. Each year the recipient will be chosen by the administration and school board on the criteria of Christian character, leadership, service and a written essay.
John Moser, director of development at LCA, estimated there will be 15 to 20 graduates next year, a springboard to a larger number of graduates that will continue into the future.