On Monday, August 28, over 230 new undergraduate students, representing six foreign countries and 21 states, officially began their journey at Cairn University. The 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.’”
After acknowledging that we have been brought together by God’s sovereignty, Dr. Williams exhorted the Cairn community to consider what it means to live a life that pursues and follows hard after Christ according to Philippians 3: “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”
Dr. Williams noted for the students a very particular distinction in Paul’s word choice: “It doesn’t say that he counts it as ‘lost’ with a ‘t’—he counts it as ‘loss.’ In other words, compared to knowing Christ, and the surpassing worth of that, the value of everything that I’ve acquired—is nothing. It’s a loss. The statement here is a statement about value not possession. . . . I view [worldly values] as a garbage that I might gain Christ.”
This proper understanding of the commitment that Christ calls us to will be further expounded upon in “Whom do you seek?,” Dr. Williams’ chapel series for the 2017-18 academic year.
“This is our prayer . . . for the whole Cairn community: That in fulfilling the mission to educate you to serve Christ, you would come to terms with the fact that we must think of everything else as inferior to the surpassing knowledge that is ours in Jesus Christ. That we would give up everything else that we may gain Christ.”
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 23. 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 the Community Gathering on Wednesday afternoon, praying over the incoming class before their loved ones said their final goodbyes. 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 numerous academic departments as well.