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Battle to speak at Livingstone convocation

By Laurie D. Willis

Livingstone College News Service

SALISBURY – Bishop George E. Battle Jr. has delivered speeches around the world, addressed members of Congress and met six sitting U.S. Presidents.

But on Friday when the senior bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church delivers the keynote address at Livingstone College’s Fall Convocation, it will be among his crowning achievements.

“Fall Convocation is a very important, sacred event at Livingstone College,” Battle said in a recent interview. “For some of the students, particularly the freshmen, it’s one of the first formal events they will attend. I have faith that God will put just the right message on my heart to deliver to the students, and I am grateful to the president for inviting me to give the address.”

Convocation begins at 10 a.m. inside Varick Auditorium and is held annually to celebrate the beginning of a new academic year that’s filled with promise and hope. It also serves as a rite of passage for freshmen, who participate in a special candlelight service during the event. Typically, Livingstone College alumni and members of the institution’s board of trustees attend.

Battle is no stranger to Livingstone. He’s a member of the “One of a Kind” Class of 1969, and he’s also chairman of the Livingstone College board of trustees. He said he was delighted when Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. asked him to speak at Convocation.

“It’s important for our students at Livingstone to get the new academic year off to a great start,” Battle said. “I want them to understand they are not here solely on their own. First, they’re here by the grace of God. Second, they’re here because of loving grandparents and parents who prayed for them and who worked hard so they could attend college. I need them to understand that college is serious business and they should make the most of their time at Livingstone. Doing anything other than that would be a disgrace to God, to the college and to themselves.”

Battle is known for delivering fiery speeches in which he gives credit to God for his success. He undoubtedly will let the students know now is not the time for excuses.

“With so much going on across the country, particularly within the African-American community, I want Livingstone students to fully grasp the importance of why they’re here,” he said. “I pray my message to them on Friday will be inspiring and will make a difference in their lives – not just while they’re at Livingstone but in the future as well.”

A native of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Battle is the oldest of eight children born to Mary Battle. He earned an associate’s degree from Clinton Junior College in Rock Hill, South Carolina, before earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Livingstone College. He also has a master of divinity degree from Hood Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry from Howard University.

Battle heads the AME Zion Church, which has more than 1.4 million members.

“We’re excited to have Bishop Battle deliver our Convocation address because we know he will impart some sage knowledge to our students,” Jenkins said. “We constantly tell our students that education is the surest vehicle for upward mobility in the world, and Bishop Battle has demonstrated that by his numerous degrees and his outstanding accomplishments. It is a blessing that we were able to get him to deliver our 2015 Fall Convocation address, and I look forward to hearing his message.”

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