Commencement 2017


Friday, May 5, 2017 – 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church

Speaker: Reverend Dr. J. Alexander Ward, Jr.

*Undergraduate Day Students Only.

The Baccalaureate ecumenical service is an occasion of thanksgiving and celebration that precedes commencement. It originated at Oxford University in 1432 as a required part of graduation. The service is led by HPU personnel, and the music is provided by the HPU Singers and the Chapel Choir.

alward_0714_finalAlexander Ward, Jr., he prefers to be called “Al,” was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina and is the son of the late James A. and Helen T. Ward. Al graduated from Northern High School (1970), High Point University (AB, 1974), The Divinity School of Duke University (MDiv, 1977), and Columbia Theological Seminary (DMin, 1998). He has also completed clinical pastoral education at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC (1990-91) and the Royce and Jane Reynolds Program in Church Leadership through Duke University Divinity School (2004).

Al was licensed to preach in 1970 and ordained an Elder in the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1978. He is the third generation on his father’s side to be in ordained ministry in the Western North Carolina Conference.

He has served student appointments at Main Street United Methodist Church (Kernersville, NC), Grace United Methodist Church (Winston-Salem, NC), and Ellis Chapel United Methodist Church (Bahama, NC). After completing seminary, he served as pastor of Cramer Memorial United Methodist Church (Cramerton, NC), Black Mountain United Methodist Church (Black Mountain, NC), Christ United Methodist Church (Gastonia, NC), Mouzon United Methodist Church (Charlotte, NC), Groce United Methodist Church (Asheville, NC), and Main Street United Methodist Church (Kernersville, NC). From 2005 through 2011, Al was the District Superintendent of the Waynesville District. He is currently Senior Pastor of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in High Point, NC.

Al is a member of the Board of Trustees of High Point University (High Point, NC) the Chair of the Board of Directors of Hinton Rural Life Center (Hayesville, NC).

Al has been married to Miriam (nee Helderman) for 44 years. Miriam and Al have two grown daughters, Erin Ward of Los Angeles, CA; and Meredith Vaughn of Kernersville, NC. They have three granddaughters, Kirthi Rao of Los Angeles; Savannah Vaughn and Vivian Vaughn of Kernersville, NC. He is an avid runner, enjoys reading biographies, mysteries, and historical fiction, and is learning the art of fly fishing.


Complimentary tickets are required for this event, and must be picked up in advance. Each undergraduate day candidate for graduation is permitted a maximum of two guest tickets (the graduate will be required to show their Passport Card for entry).

Tickets are limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  A ticket does not guarantee admittance.  We will do everything we can to maximize seating capacity and have arranged for a video broadcast to the church fellowship hall. Guests should expect to wait in line.

Tickets may be picked up during normal office hours (8:30-7:00pm Monday-Friday and 10:00am-4:00pm Saturday) from April 27 to May 4 at the R.G. Wanek Center philanthropy tables.

August and December 2016 candidates for graduation who are not able to pick up tickets at the designated locations are asked to contact the Campus Concierge at (336) 841-4636.

Baccalaureate is for High Point University undergraduate day candidates for graduation, their families and guests, and university faculty, staff, students and special guests. It is not open to the general public.

General Information

Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church is located on the corner of Chestnut Drive and Westchester Drive (1225 Chestnut Drive) in High Point. Parking will be available at the church.

Guests must enter the Church with everyone in their party in order to be seated together. Saved seats are not permitted. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we try to accommodate as many families as possible. 

Parking will be available for guests with disabilities on a first-come, first-served basis adjacent to the church.  Drivers must display state issued placards or license plates to enter the parking lot.  Please enter the first entrance on the right coming from Westchester Drive.

Appropriate attire for this event is business attire.

Flash photography and video cameras are not permitted inside the church during the service.

Candidates for Graduation Information

Full academic regalia is required for this service. The line of march will assemble at 3:15 p.m. in the covered walkway in front of the Church. The Junior Marshals are in charge of the line of march, and candidates for graduation are asked to line up as requested by the Junior Marshals.

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