Graduates singing at Baccalaureate
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Baccalaureate Information

Bridgewater’s Baccalaureate Service will be held Friday, May 3 at 6 p.m. in Cole Hall.

Portrait of Rev. Wilfred E. Nolen

Baccalaureate Speaker:
Rev. Wilfred E. Nolen ’63

Trustee, Bridgewater College

The Rev. Wil Nolen ’63 graduated from Bridgewater College with a B.A. in music. For 43 years, Nolen served in various roles in the Church of the Brethren’s Elgin, Ill., headquarters.

The Rev. Wil Nolen came to Bridgewater College in 1959 from Bassett, Va., a small town known primarily for furniture-making and textiles. Although his parents had little formal education, they believed in its value, and he, along with a number of other Bassett young people in the Church of the Brethren (COB), came to Bridgewater College to further their education.

In addition to his studies, Nolen worked numerous jobs on campus throughout college, was part of the Church of the Brethren youth leadership, played the piano and organ, sang in choral ensembles, and ran track and cross country. He graduated from Bridgewater in 1963 with a B.A. in music.

Upon graduation, he headed to the Chicago area, where he studied music performance and choral conducting at the American Conservatory of Music and completed a master of divinity from Bethany Theological Seminary (then located in Oak Brook, Ill.). As an administrator of church programs, Nolen has always taken seriously the call to service, along with valuing and respecting others, no matter their background or differences.

“We are all part of the great brotherhood/sisterhood of the world,” he says. “Our differences should not keep us from seeing the unity in our common humanity.”

For 43 years, Nolen served in various roles in the Church of the Brethren’s Elgin, Ill., headquarters. In 1983, he joined the COB Pension Board, eventually serving as the founding president of the board’s successor organizations, the Brethren Benefit Trust (now Eder Financial) and the Brethren Foundation.

In 1993, Nolen received the College’s Outstanding Service Award and has also served on the College’s Board of Trustees since 1993. Nolen and his wife Joyce established The Rev. Wilfred E. and Dr. Joyce A. Nolen Fund for Music at Bridgewater College in 2008, and in 2023, they named The Rev. Wilfred E. and Dr. Joyce A. Nolen School of Business and Professional Studies at the College.

What is Baccalaureate?

Baccalaureate is a worship service honoring the graduating class. The service will last approximately one hour and includes multiple hymns, musical selections from the choir and the Baccalaureate message. This is also the first opportunity graduates have to wear their caps and gowns. Baccalaureate is open to any guests that would like to attend. Attending Baccalaureate is not required.


Tickets are not required for the Baccalaureate Service on Friday evening.