Graduations on Sunday create conflict with church for some in Wake County

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Hundreds of families celebrated a milestone for graduating high school seniors Sunday in Wake County.

But for some folks, the celebrations were tempered by a choice they had to make between attending church or commencement.

Two out of 24 graduations for Wake County happened before 1 p.m. on Sunday, creating a conflict for some students and parents.

“I want to go to church, but at the same time this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I have to go to this,” said Kenneth Elekwachi, a senior graduating from Knightdale High.

Elekwachi and his family go to church just about every Sunday.

“It would be better if they did it on a Friday or Saturday because today is a holiday, the day we’re supposed to go to church and worship God,” said Samuel Elekwachi, Kenneth’s father.

The Monck family also attends church nearly every weekend, but have a little more flexibility.

“We’re Catholic so we can go to church on Saturday and not have to miss a service,” said Mary Monck, who was there Sunday to see her son graduate.

Pastor William Newkirk, long-time leader of the Oak City Baptist Church, says there shouldn’t be a conflict to begin with.

“Having Sunday morning services is insensitive to the faith community. They don’t have classes on Sunday morning in Wake County Schools, so why have graduations?” asked Newkirk.

Newkirk missed his goddaughter’s graduation because of the scheduling.

“I tried to make it there today and got there just as they were wrapping up,” said Newkirk.

He’s asked Wake County Schools to consider the impact it has on the faith community, and to hold Sunday graduations until after most local church services are over.

Wake County School leaders say they will be reviewing available options for scheduling 2018 graduation ceremonies.

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