Pastors urge Wake Schools to rethink Sunday graduations

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The Rev. David Forbes argues Sundays should be reserved for faith.

Come next month at the Raleigh Convention Center, the caps and gowns will be non-stop. The smallest ceremonies get underway Friday. And from May 19 until June 14, Wake County Public Schools will host 24 commencement ceremonies. It's the ultimate goal of a high schooler's life, the start of a new beginning.

But four of the ceremonies fall on a Sunday - and for some, including the Rev. David Forbes, that's a problem.

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"It's about the uncomfortable position of being required to choose between worshipping one's faith and being supportive of the schools of our children," Forbes said.

So Forbes and the rest of the Raleigh Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance lobbied the Wake County school board this week to rethink graduation scheduling.

The group argued church services and commencement ceremonies shouldn't occur at the same time; that Sunday mornings should be reserved for choir robes, not graduation gowns.

For downtown Raleigh business owners such as Debbie Holt at Clyde Cooper's Barbeque, Sunday graduations are a godsend for the bottom line. She welcomes all the extra business - regardless of the day of the week.

"It's been going on for years like this. This is a tradition and a routine," Holt said.

For Forbes, the tradition worth respecting is the Sabbath.

"There was consensus that we ought to respect the faith proclivities of the population," Forbes said. And now we've come so far from that. That is not now, when?"

No word back yet from WCPSS on whether the district will consider the clergy's request to keep future commencements off the Sunday morning schedule.

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