Cairn University’s 2015–16 academic year kicked off Monday morning with the University’s traditional Convocation Chapel, a time when the entire University family gathers together to celebrate the new year and dedicate it to God’s glory.
The Convocation Chapel began as faculty members entered in pairs to the hearty applause of students. After the procession, Sr. Vice President for Student Affairs Scott Cawood welcomed back returning students and especially recognized freshmen and transfers. He encouraged the newcomers to “join into the fabric and fiber of campus” by getting involved and attending the various kickoff events this week.
Members of the Cairn community were encouraged to prepare their hearts and set their focus on Christ through prayer (led by University Provost Dr. Brian Toews), worship (led by Dean of the School of Music Dr. Benjamin Harding and Professor Ken Borrmann), and the reading of Scripture verses 1 Peter 2:4-9 (by junior Alex Crawford, a member of the Cairn Nexus team).
President Dr. Todd J. Williams rose to welcome all present and address students for the first time this year. He reminded listeners that while the purpose of Convocation Chapel is to celebrate the new year as a community, it also serves another purpose: to remind ourselves of what we are are doing here, whether we are faculty, staff, or students. Convocation Chapel is a time to refocus on the truth that we are here under God’s sovereign will to learn, study, and serve Christ.
Dr. Williams also spoke of the significance of this year, not only at Cairn, but in the nation and overseas. This year, Cairn University celebrates the 50th anniversary of its social work program. In May 2015, the Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the School of Social Work, as well as the appointment of Dr. Lloyd Gestoso as the first dean of the School. In addition, we welcome new faculty and staff, who add depth and diversity to our Cairn community.
In light of the energy and excitement on campus, we also face new challenges and crises in the faith community. This year has been marked with social, economic, political, and religious turmoil, from Christian persecution by ISIS and racial tension to the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. In the midst of the changes in our society and world, how are Christians to respond?
Dr. Williams says this: “Remember we are servants of Christ. Remember who we are and who we serve. Since the beginning of time, believers have faced hardship. Persecution of faith is not a new concept.” This year Dr.Williams’ chapel series, “Exiles in the Land of -Isms and Idols,” will focus on discussing and confronting the various cultural ideas and issues that we face today.
Drawing from 1 Peter 2:4–5, Dr. Williams reminds us that we are not called to shrink from the difficult circumstances, but to face them head-on, for it is God’s purpose to “build us into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”