HAMPDEN, Maine — Amaris Temoso Buchanan was awarded a college degree before earning her high school diploma.
The 17-year-old senior at Bangor Christian Schools on Sunday received an Associate of Arts degree in biblical languages from Grace Evangelical College and Seminary in Bangor. She won’t be handed her high school diploma until June 5.
“Learning languages always intimidated me,” she said at Grace’s intimate graduation ceremony at Community Church of the Open Door on Main Road North, “but once I began studying, I just fell in love with it.”
The languages the Southwest Harbor student learned have not been spoken regularly for centuries. She studied ancient Greek, Hebrew and Syriac — the languages in which the books of the Torah and the Bible were written.
“The scripts of the languages, especially Syriac, are so beautiful,” Buchanan said. “Learning these languages and seeing how Scripture opens up using them has let me see the verses in a whole new light.”
Buchanan’s father is the Rev. Wayne J. Buchanan, pastor of Tremont Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, on Mount Desert Island. He also is the biblical language teacher at Grace and his daughter’s instructor.
“It was an absolute thrill to see all the hard work my daughter has done recognized today,” the 54-year-old Southwest Harbor resident said Sunday.
This fall, Buchanan will attend Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., where she plans to continue her studies in biblical languages. Gordon is a nondenominational Christian college located 25 miles north of Boston.
Douglas Towle, 40, of Palmyra also earned his Associate of Arts degree Sunday. The part-time youth pastor at Grace Bible Church in Holden is working toward his Master of Divinity degree and ordination.
“When I was about 21 years old,” Towle said, “I began to really desire to do ministry work. But I didn’t have the opportunity to do the academic study until 2003, when I enrolled at Grace.”
He said teachers at the small college and seminary, which is made up almost entirely of nontraditional students, give “a lot of practical instruction.”
“Being able to learn within the context of ministry has been very helpful to me,” Towle said.
For information on summer and fall courses, call 947-1665 or visit www.GraceEvangelical.net.