On Monday, August 29, nearly 225 new undergraduate students, representing five foreign countries and 21 states, officially began their journey at Cairn University. This diverse incoming class was enthusiastically welcomed to the University community at Monday morning’s convocation chapel, processing through a tunnel of applauding faculty to reserved seats at the front of the gymnasium.
After the opening prayer, Scripture reading, and hymns, Dr. Williams addressed the entire University community for the first time this semester: “If you are here today and wondering ‘Should I be here right now?’ I encourage you to put the thought out of your mind. We echo together the words of God’s servant Job: ‘Nothing can thwart the purposes of God.’”
Acknowledging that we have been brought together by God’s sovereignty, Dr. Williams exhorted the Cairn community to consider our life together in light of 1 John 3: “For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: That you should love one another. By this we know love: that He laid down His life for us, and we ought also to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
“What John is doing here in 1 John 3 is recalling for us the washing of the disciples’ feet in the Upper Room, where Jesus says, ‘A new commandment I give you: That you love one another.” He tells the disciples, ‘You’re going to need one another in the days to come.’ It’s absolutely critical that we not lose sight of that when the world presses in upon us: We don’t tend to ourselves, we tend to each other.”
Dr. Williams charged students to examine themselves: “This is the test of true faith: If Jesus is real to you, we should see that played out in your love for your brothers and sisters. John goes on to say, ‘If you don’t have that, then you might not be one of us.’ If we recognize that we were dead and have been made alive, then it should come pouring off of us — our love for one another.”
This theme, “Our Life Together,” will be examined throughout the president’s chapel series this semester, exploring issues from theological to practical.
“Our time in proximity is a gift from the Lord, and we should not take it for granted,” said Dr. Williams. “In the body of Christ, we are bound to one another as brothers and sisters, whether you feel like it or not… and I want to take on this chapel series with a view to strengthening our understanding of our life together and our skills at doing life together.”
Although Monday marked the first gathering of the entire University community, the incoming undergraduate class — over 30% of the undergraduate student body — arrived on campus on August 24. Student-leaders and employees welcomed new residential students and their families, helping them unpack vehicles and get settled into their new homes on campus.
Dr. Williams welcomed new students and their families at a community gathering on Wednesday afternoon, allowing staff to pray over the incoming class and their loved ones before parents said their final goodbyes. The president also addressed the newcomers at a worship service on Sunday morning, encouraging students to ready their hearts as they begin their new lives as university students. Student Life and the OTeam (Orientation Team) also held five days of events designed to build community and prepare new students for their Cairn journey. Parents and families were able to attend information sessions hosted by Athletics, the president, and the provost, as well.