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One of TIME Magazine’s “most influential” to speak at Evangel’s 58th Annual Commencement

Published on Apr 14, 2016 by Paul K. Logsdon

Celebration to be held at James River Church

The 58th Annual Commencement Ceremony for Evangel University will be held on Friday, May 6, at 9:30 a.m. in the James River Church auditorium in Ozark, Mo.

Evangel and its seminary will see a total of 625 associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees conferred this spring in two graduation ceremonies. For the main Evangel celebration at James River, this includes 424 bachelor’s degrees, 108 master’s degrees and 37 associate’s degrees, 31 of which are from the James River Leadership Campus.

In addition, the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary at Evangel will confer 56 degrees during its ceremony on Saturday morning in the Spence Chapel — 37 are master’s degrees and 19 are doctoral degrees.*

Evangel and the seminary will honor the Class of 2016 with a series of events and activities from Wednesday, May 4, to Saturday, May 7.

Evangel’s Commencement ceremony will be streamed live:

National Hispanic Leader

The speaker for Evangel University’s graduation on Friday will be Wilfredo De Jesús, affectionately known as Pastor Choco, a senior pastor, community leader and author from Chicago, Ill. His church, New Life Covenant Church, is the largest Assemblies of God church in the U.S.

In April 2013, Rev. De Jesús was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, on a list as varied as Pope Frances, Stephen Spielberg and the presidents of Mexico, South Korea, the USA and the NRA.

In that issue of TIME, his story was written by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and best-selling author of “The Purpose Driven Life.”


“Wilfredo De Jesús, better known as Pastor Choco, embodies the true definition of what Christ said the church should be. As the senior pastor of New Life Covenant Ministries, one of the fastest-growing churches in Chicago as well as one of the largest Assemblies of God congregations in the nation, Pastor Choco encourages others to go out into the community not just with words, but with his own actions.

“Under his leadership, New Life is reaching out to the outcasts and forgotten in our society — the homeless, women suffering with addiction and prostitution, and young people in gangs.

“But his influence spreads far beyond the Chicago area as vice president of social justice for the nation’s largest Hispanic Christian organization, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. With Hispanics playing such a large role in the expansion of the evangelical church in the U.S. and their vast influence on the political landscape, Pastor Choco is and will continue to be a strong, ardent voice on the direction of our country.”


In addition, De Jesús was featured on the cover and in the accompanying story of TIME’s April 15, 2013 edition, “The Latino Reformation,” which explored the growth of Latinos among Protestant churches across the U.S.

“We are honored to have my friend Pastor Choco challenge and inspire the Class of 2016,” said Dr. Carol Taylor, president of Evangel University. “Born and raised in a tough Chicago community, he experienced a life-changing encounter at age 14 with a small neighborhood church and people who showed him the love of Jesus.”

Twenty years later, Choco was appointed senior pastor of that same church, and since then, it has grown from 120 to more than 17,000 globally through church plants and more than 130 ministries.

Pastor Choco’s full profile can be read here:


*AGTS Press Release —



Graduation numbers for EU & AGTS were adjusted in this web story in May, to accurately reflect the actual number of graduates. — PKL