“Why is the King James Bible such a big deal?” Alumni got to explore the answer last weekend — and the answers to a dozen other Scripture-related questions on topics ranging from textual criticism to translation. Thanks to the Center for University Studies and the Museum of the Bible, the Cairn community has an opportunity to view a remarkable collection of artifacts that shed light on the ways that people have approached and studied the Bible for millennia. The exhibit, Sacra Pagina, runs from September 21–October 15 and features artifacts organized around 13 frequently asked questions about biblical study. Last weekend, both alumni and the general public had opportunity to participate in hourly docent-led tours or explore the exhibit at one’s own pace.
Sacra Pagina was just one of 20 activities and events during Homecoming, which took place on Saturday, October 1. Plenty were kid-friendly, including kids’ tents sponsored by the First Year Programs in Arts & Culture and Israel & Archaeology, rock climbing, amusement rides, and inflatables. However, much was offered for alumni and friends of all ages: athletic competitions, food trucks, live music, and an admissions tour specially planned for children of alumni. Alumni of the Cairn Chorale gathered for a reunion in the Highlander Cafe, honoring director Dr. David Shockey in his final year before retirement.
Nathan Wambold, director of alumni relations, was encouraged to see “new” faces on campus. “More than any other year, at this year’s Homecoming, I ran into alumni who’d come back to Cairn for the first time in many years,” he says. “It’s great to see these alumni return and realize that being back on campus feels not only comfortable and natural, but also inspiring due to the many ways they can reconnect with their alma mater — professionally, personally, intellectually, and socially.”
Homecoming welcomes the entire Cairn community to campus, including alumni, faculty, staff, students, donors, and friends of the University. Over 1200 individuals attended this year’s event.
The Forward Campaign: Standing Firm, Not Standing Still
The marquee event of the weekend was Saturday evening’s public launch of the Forward capital campaign. The announcement of the $15 million fundraising initiative and its priorities, which started at 5 pm in a large tent on the upper athletic field, featured live music by the Cairn Jazz Ensemble (directed by Joshua Stamper, adjunct professor of jazz theory) and 1,200 Chick-fil-A dinners donated by the restaurant chain’s national headquarters in Atlanta, GA.
“The Forward launch event at this year’s Homecoming was all we hoped for and more,” says University President Dr. Todd J. Williams. “Every seat under the tent was full, and the crowd spilled out into the surrounding areas. It was an exciting event largely because those in attendance were energized and engaged. Afterwards, conversations affirmed the timing, goals, and importance of this campaign for Cairn University. Alumni of all ages, friends and donors, faculty and staff, and even students are enthusiastic about moving forward together.”
Learn more about the campaign at cairn.edu/forward.
In the days surrounding the event, five alumni addressed the Cairn community in special Homecoming chapels (which you can listen to here on Cairn’s Chapels podcast channel). Speakers included members of the new Alumni Short List: Ken Bond ’07, ESL and bilingual education program coordinator with the NJ Department of Education; Jon Kontz ’08, real estate entrepreneur and small business investor; and Janice Cho ’10, LCSW. The Alumni Short List is comprised of young alumni who demonstrate innovation, leadership, and/or an entrepreneurial spirit in their field, having progressed rapidly in professional growth and accomplishment. These alumni participated in a panel discussion on early career success on Monday, September 26th.
The rest of the week’s chapels featured alumni from earlier decades: Chaplain Colonel Ken Stice ’79 and Dr. Daniel M. Master ’92. On Wednesday, September 28th, Chaplain Stice shared lessons learned while ministering to injured soldiers, crisis survivors, and rescued hostages. On Monday, October 3rd, Dr. Master spoke on the cultural distortion of the term “Philistine” and the historical reality about the ancient society’s culture and rejection by God’s people. A professor of archaeology at Wheaton and co-director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, Dr. Master also gave a lecture for the public at 2 pm, providing an overview of recent archaeological research on the Philistines, including his team’s groundbreaking discoveries in an Ashkelon cemetery.
On Friday, September 30th, Dr. Williams provided a preview of the Forward campaign for students in chapel. The excitement-generating announcement included a pre-screening of the campaign video, the announcement of new majors in criminal justice and computer science in Fall 2017, and architects’ renderings of new facilities designed to enhance community gathering spaces on campus.
The broader Christian community joined Cairn students and alumni in kicking off the weekend’s festivities with a concert on Friday evening. Featuring 7eventh Time Down and Audio Adrenaline, the event welcomed local youth groups and young adult ministries from throughout the Philadelphia region, as well as Cairn students and the general public.