Convocation 2021: A Community United In Christ Alone
“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.” — The Common Doxology, Thomas Ken
With Corban’s campus finally buzzing with the energy of arriving students, the last summer air filled with the familiar noise of convocation bagpipes, it was a simple chorus of voices, offered up in spontaneity, that would come to punctuate the eventful week.
As the launch of the new school year officially began, for the first time in a long time, a crowd formed at C.E. Jeffers Sports Center. Lines of students carrying overfilled boxes once again filed into Aagard and Faraar, buildings that have housed generations. All throughout the wooded campus, gentle birdsong was replaced by conversation and growing laughter. Corban’s family was back together again.
For students new and old, it marked an event that has proven elusive lately, the gathering of community. It was the word that drifted from group to group. “I moved in to PVG three weeks ago, but it’s so exciting to finally see more people arriving on campus,” said Erwin Leon, a freshman soccer player who arrived with the team a few weeks early.
For the newest members of Corban’s community, it was the promise of new connections that rested on every smile and wide-eyed face. “I’m just very excited to meet new people,” said freshman Olivia Newman. “Seeing the campus has been amazing, but it’s nice to finally be here now, and I can’t wait to share in the community.”
After a weekend of orientation for new students and settling back into campus life for returners, Corban students gathered in the Psalm Center for Convocation on Wednesday, August 25, celebrating the launch of a new school year. Preceded by the skirl of bagpipes and the sounding of the shofar, a long line of faculty and staff in full regalia filed into the building, led by Dr. Marty Trammell holding the ceremonial mace.
From the opening of the ceremony, this year’s theme became clear—“Christ Alone.” It was made manifest in President Nord’s address, as he reminded students and staff of the unifying reassurance of John 1:3, that all things exist by the power and purpose of Christ alone. It echoed through student body president Tobi Adeoye’s honest and heartfelt message of how the depression and desperation of the pandemic months brought her the unexpected blessing of a full and rich reliance on God and her community. It took center stage in Professor Tamara McGinnis’ keynote speech, where she reminded the audience of the power of Christ to transform a community, saying: “It is Christ alone who will equip us to accomplish the tasks that we together need to accomplish this year. It is Christ alone who will enable us to unite and be at peace with one another. It is Christ alone who will give us the courage, the focus, the stability to conquer difficulties in the classroom, in the dorm room, and in the inner room of our hearts.”
But louder than the growing sounds of forming friendships, skirling bagpipes, and communal worship, and perhaps more profound than the messages, the testimonies, and the pledges each class of students gave to one another, was the simple, unplanned act of the student body that culminated the event.
As the music died and the pageantry began disassembling, the chapel full of students turned to face one another in an act of solidarity with the senior class leading the call to lift up their voices to sing Thomas Ken’s popular 17th-century doxology. In the soft unison of a simple melody, the student body carried on a tradition that has endured cataclysms, outlived nations, and lasted through the generations, and their song reminded us of the life-giving truth that the Church of Christ will endure through any trial because of the unifying, transformative power of Christ alone.
“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.”