Friday, August 31, 2012

Matriculation Chapel: Renewal and Remembrance

After a long summer of jobs and internships, research and missions trips, the whole Gordon College community assembled Wednesday morning for this academic year's Matriculation Chapel service. Held each year on the first day of classes, Matriculation Chapel represents a long Gordon tradition. It serves as a time for students, faculty and staff to rededicate themselves to Christ, and to be reminded of the crucial importance of Christian education to the global church and to the common good.

The call to spiritual renewal and to faithful scholarship was given special meaning this year, the 50th year of Biblical and Theological Studies Professor Marvin Wilson's teaching career. As President Lindsay asked Dr. Wilson to step forward for a word of acknowledgement (and the bestowal of Marv's very own designated parking spot for the year), students, faculty and staff burst into heartfelt applause. Marv continues to model the very essence of Gordon's commitment to deep and informed Christian faith for thousands among the College's students, alumni and friends.

The capstone of each Matriculation service is the "charge," a speech delivered by a recipient of the previous year's Distinguished Faculty Awards. This year's speaker, Professor of Sociology Dr. Ivy George, provided a few key meditations for the start of this new year. Weaving together insights from modern authors and sociological perspectives (Dr. George—no surprise—teaches a "Sociology of Literature" class), the sociology department chair encouraged the campus community to have respect for the mystery of God's grace, to recognize that God alone is the source of wisdom, and to turn to God in all we do this year.

Within these broad exhortations, a theme of interpersonal connection emerged—an intuitive outgrowth of Dr. George's chosen discipline. As we consider the mystery of God's grace, we recognize that God is preparing not only our own hearts, but the hearts of all those around us. As we seek God's wisdom, we realize that "God is in the world," as Dr. George put it, and that we are to "go into the world to be changed and to make change" through that same divine insight. And as we turn to God, we remember the importance of "active participation in a local church" in keeping our focus on him.

When the service concluded, the whole community emerged from the chapel, out into Wednesday's first whispers of clear fall breeze—this new year both a fresh beginning and the continuation of a long history together.

Photos: 1.) Faculty procession 2.) Dr. Marv Wilson, Harold John Ockenga Chair of Biblical and Theological Studies 3.) Dr. Ivy George, professor sociology and social work. Listen to Dr. Ivy's Matriculation Chapel speech here.

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