Spring 2009 Inaugural Address
Spring 2009 Inaugural Address - 3/12/09
Listen to the recorded version here:
Inaugural Address, Renewing Our Covenant
By Dr. David Alexander
Dear Lord, hear my prayer, guide my thoughts and my words, may they be words for this time, this people and this place. May they yield a vision of who You would have us be and become, now and for the generation to come. Amen.
Chairman Craker, President Emeritus Hagood, Mayor Dale, Members of the Board of Trustees and Administration of Northwest Nazarene University, Distinguished Faculty of NNU, Dr. Fairbanks, Honored Delegates from Learned Societies and Institutions of Higher Learning, Representatives of the NNU Student Body, NNU Administrative Staff and NNU Alumni, Directors of the NNU Foundation, Representatives from the Churches of the Treasure Valley, the Northwest and the Global Church, Honored Guests, Friends and my Dear Family,
I bring you greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we live and move and have our being.
It is an honor and a privilege to accept the charge you have given me as the twelfth President of Northwest Nazarene University. With God's help and your partnership I shall seek to fulfill your call to serve the cause of Christ at NNU to the best of my ability. I want to say thank you to the Presidential Search Committee, the Board of Trustees, the Inaugural Steering Committee and the scores of people who have extended such a warm welcome to us and worked so diligently to provide all of us these wonderful Inaugural events. Please accept my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude.
This Inaugural Ceremony is a time to tell stories of covenant, for we are a covenant people. We began as a covenant people and we have come together this evening to declare and renew our covenant pledges and promises. In this time of renewal, we shall consider the opportunities that lie before us as we fulfill our covenant commitments to this generation and position ourselves to serve the next.
I stand before you this evening as both a product of and a participant in covenant. I am a Child of God. I am also a child of the Church of the Nazarene; raised in a Nazarene parsonage, nurtured by loving parents, both of whom are alumni of NNU; attending college, shaped and mentored by Nazarene professors, answering the call to serve the church in higher Christian education. The story I tell this evening is my story; but it is also your story, our story and most importantly, God's story.
I speak this evening of the value of covenant, the promise of covenant and the vision of covenant. Said another way, I call us to consider Northwest Nazarene University's covenant past, covenant present and covenant future.
OUR COVENANT PAST-The Value of Our Covenant
Let us turn our attention to the values and action of the men and women of 1913 and beyond. What are the record and the rhetoric of those who first established our school and our covenant?
We must first remember Eugene Emerson, a layman of sacrificial heart, entrepreneurial spirit and certain means. Former president John Riley observed of Emerson, "in the process of his spiritual search, the Lord seemed to lay upon his heart the call to establish a holiness school in the Northwest." (Riley, 43) Thus, Emerson invited Rev. M.E. Ferdinand to Idaho to hold revival meetings in the spring of 1913; in so doing, Nampa First Church of the Nazarene was born. That same summer, Emerson, Ferdinand and S.E. Parson became the three-person board of directors for a soon-to-be established school. In July of 1913 Rev. Ferdinand, now the first pastor of Nampa First Church told the local paper, "we expect to open a Primary and Prepatory Holiness school and lift it to a university as soon as God permits."
Soon, the services of C.V. Marshall, early dean and science professor, were secured. Reflecting on those early days he wrote, "I cast my lot with the little band, The chief assets at the opening of the second year were a growing student body, a small debt and a lively hope. The third year we began to build on the present College campus, the day of small things was past." (Riley, 48) Indeed, things did change. One can chronicle the growth of the school alongside the growth of the denomination as Idaho Holiness School became Idaho-Oregon Holiness School, then Northwest Holiness College and in 1916 Northwest Nazarene College.
Both the Church of the Nazarene and her educational institution began to expand; together, church and school reached out to the people of the American Northwest. Of particular importance to our covenant story was the coming of the first president of the institution, H. Orton Wiley. As John Riley notes, "It is significant that a scholar was the first president of this college, and that for a period of ten years, long enough to have put together the basic collegiate structure and to create a climate of learning. He gathered about him, people of professional quality and personal commitment." (Riley, 73) Not only was the college fortunate to enjoy the services of President Wiley, the fledgling denomination was forever shaped by Wiley's contributions to the articulation of its beliefs and articles of faith. (We have included these statements and articles in your inaugural program for they are our living words, continuing to shape our covenant).
From the outset, Emerson, Wiley, Marshall and Olive Winchester sought out teachers who, in the words of the First Annual Catalogue of Idaho Holiness School, were "the most capable teachers in scholastic intelligence as well as spiritual preparation." We can begin to observe the formation of an institutional ethos and focus; the catalogue outlines a particular, holistic approach to education when it states, "God can have His way with man only when man's spiritual development is at least equal to his intellectual development." Wiley paid full attention to the spiritual and intellectual domains and their development.
In the 1916 Catalogue Wiley articulates his perspective on the nature and value of the educational experience being established at the sagebrush academy called NNC:
to awaken the student to a knowledge of his own powers
to discover to him new realms of truth and new fields of usefulness
to afford such discipline as shall put him in possession of himself
to make all truth minister to the knowledge and love of God and the service of man
to furnish the church with anointed and aggressive workers in the various fields of Christian activity
As he wrote for the 1921 Messenger, Wiley, with Winchester's aid, sought to create a learning environment where "the ultimate end of all knowledge is deeper fellowship with God."
It became clear, two domains were central at NNC, the quest for God and the quest for knowledge, the spiritual and the intellectual, the desire to live a holy life and the desire to know the truth. Wiley did not see these domains as mutually exclusive. Wiley, like John Wesley before him, clung to one book, the Bible, for the Scriptures, caused into being by God's inspiration, are "a compendium of truth about God, humankind, life now and life beyond." Yet, as a Christian of Wesleyan heritage, Wiley was widely read and encouraged faculty and students alike to exercise their freedom to learn, to explore the wonders of God's creation and humankind's activity; as Wesley had urged, to "plunder the Egyptians, to explore, appraise and appropriate all the insights and resources of any and all cultures." (Outler).
For Wiley, and for us, these two domains "the spiritual and the intellectual" originate from and cohere in the person of Jesus Christ. God is reconciling the world to Himself, making Himself accessible to humankind through the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ, made available through the Person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The truth is not something, but someone, not propositional, but personal. In a very real sense, our fore bearers believed that the truth is not something we find; rather the truth has found us. Dallas Willard captures Wiley's belief in educating the whole person, with Jesus as source and guide, when he states, "Jesus is the most powerful thinker the world has ever known. He grants us, gifts us with the power of thought, of reason." "The prospering of God's cause on earth depends upon his people thinking well." (Willard, 105) From its most formative days the people and mission of NNU have centered upon belief in, understanding of and relationship with Jesus Christ. We are a Christo-centric university. We believe that truth has been revealed in Him. He is our teacher, our Lord and our example.
He was seeking us, before we started seeking Him. This is where our covenants originate and reside. Here, I'm indebted to my colleagues, Dr. Bowes, Dr. Gismondi and Dr. Lyons, in providing me a richer and deeper understanding of the two primary covenants we share. First, we enjoy a covenant not of our own making, a covenant initiated by God with us. All of NNU's institutional heroes of the faith were in fact, responding in obedient action, to the covenantal activity of God.
This evening we will renew two covenants; the first is God-initiated. God, desiring to be in relationship with us, has, through His prevenient grace drawn us to Himself. He offers Himself in covenantal relationship. We must choose, like our fore bearers, to pledge and promise covenantal fidelity to Him. We may seek Him individually and institutionally because He first sought us. This is what differentiates us from the secular academy. We seek and serve God who has extended and revealed Himself to us. Our reasoning, our logic, our ground of being, behavior, principles and philosophy is centered in Jesus Christ. We are a Christian university in covenant with God.
Secondly, we are a people in covenant with each other. To read the early record of the Idaho Holiness School is to learn of families moving to the Northwest and the Treasure Valley of Idaho to bring their children to a town and a place where learning and lifestyle were centered in the Triune God. Parents and parishioners found a place where church and college had established covenant with God and each other, all seeking to educate their young for faith and life. As John Riley wrote of the place he served so long and well, "NNC is a place where for a few months and years young people may live amid a society of dedicated learners, a society very human and faulty but striving by the grace of God to approximate Christ's love and purity." (Riley, 28)
We are the inheritors of two covenants; one established by and with God, the other with each other. "We have mutual, overlapping covenantal responsibilities to each other which have arisen out of our relationship to a loving God who has covenanted with us." (Gismondi) We gather together to renew a covenant that has been kept for generations; from Emerson, to Wiley, to Winchester; from Dooley, to Gilmore, to DeLong, and Culver; from Corlett, to Riley, Pearsall, Wetmore, Doane and Hagood. These men and women are joined by a host of people who have gone on before, pastors and parents, professors and students. Each of them, in their own way, was a covenant keeper, committed to the discipling and education of the whole person, seeking to instill righteousness of heart and mind through the power and presence of Jesus Christ.
OUR COVENANT PRESENT-The Promise of Our Covenant
Much has changed since September 13, 1913 when the Idaho Holiness School first opened its doors. And yet, the fundamental things remain the same. The bedrock beliefs and values that shaped the school then, guide the school now. Yet this fact should never be taken for granted. We must continually work to maintain and foster our covenant relationships, with God and with each other. That is one of the primary reasons we have gathered here tonight.
As covenant communities expand, so too does the potential for covenant dilution and drift. We must be ever vigilant to maintain the relationships and priorities necessary for covenant awareness and fidelity. To this end, upon my election to the presidency of Northwest Nazarene University I have been in Covenant Conversation with the Ten Covenant Communities of NNU. I have asked questions of each of these groups; does God still seek to establish and maintain covenant with us, do we still seek to establish and maintain covenant with one another? If so, what do we expect of NNU and what should NNU expect of us? The NNU Covenant that you will find in your Inaugural Program is the product of these Covenant Conversations. I am grateful to scores of participants for their passionate engagement, their caring criticism and their vital commitment.
In just a moment, mid-way through my inaugural address, I am going to invite ten people to the platform to represent each of the Ten Covenant Communities of NNU. They will help lead us in Covenant Renewal. Before they come, allow me to make this point. NNU is bigger than it was in 1913. The Church of the Nazarene is bigger than it was in 1913. NNU serves 2,000 students, the Church in the Northwest serves 100,000 people. As the covenant community grows so does the challenge to hold on to our core covenant values. Covenants are kept one decision, one priority, one action at a time, across the campus, across the dinner table, in each church, across the great Northwest. As you read the words expressed by you and written for you as members of the NNU Covenant Community, remember you are making a pledge, a promise, to strengthen the cords of covenant with God and each other.
These are solemn words, but the spirit of covenant is only made real by the act of covenant keeping. As we read these words it is my prayer that we realize we are making pledges to one another, to continue the covenants established by God in Christ for the furtherance of His Kingdom and His glory.
I invite NNU's covenant community partners to the platform, and I invite this assembled body to join them in reading any and all covenant passages that you represent. May these words honor God, those who have gone before and those who will follow. Hear us Lord as we renew our covenant:
THE NNU COVENANT
President: Northwest Nazarene University exists to fulfill covenants made by our fore bearers. This evening we have gathered to retell and reaffirm the covenants established generations ago. Keeping these covenants has shaped the university, the church and our communities. Who has gathered to renew the NNU covenant?
People: We have come together to declare and renew our covenant with Northwest Nazarene University. We are the church, the university trustees, the faculty, the students, the administrative staff and the foundation of NNU. We live next door and we reach around the world; we are alumni, the people of Idaho, the Northwest and the church around the world.
President: Let us declare, affirm and renew our fundamental covenant.
People: Our first covenant is with God. He reached out in grace to establish covenant with us. Northwest Nazarene University is founded upon our belief in and relationship with the One Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We have organized ourselves around our relationship with God in Christ, made available to us through the Holy Spirit. Tonight, we declare that we renew and affirm our covenant with God. We shall continue to seek His rule, His righteousness and His loving relationship in our lives and the life of the university.
President: How does NNU intend to fulfill her covenant with God?
NNU Community: We earnestly seek to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Enabled by our relationship with God, encouraged by our fellowship with the Holy Spirit, Christlikeness is our goal and our way, it guides our being and our doing, our people, programs and practices.
President: Is there another covenant you share that we may renew?
NNU Community: Our second covenant is with God and each other. Across the generations we have forged a covenant of mutual obligation and expectation. We share common beliefs and values. We share a sense of history and heritage. We have common expectations and aspirations. Our covenantal spirit is based upon our relationships with God and each other. Our pledges and promises are made with a sense of mutual trust, fidelity, hope and love.
President: Who are the founders and keepers of this covenant? What do you seek, what do you offer?
Churches of the Northwest: We are the people of the Church of the Nazarene in the Northwest. This is our university. Nearly a century ago we sacrificed for our God, our children and our beliefs to establish NNU. We look to the university to nurture and shepherd our young, prepare tomorrow's leaders, promote the gospel of Jesus Christ and model the Christlike life. We pledge to be covenant partners, engaged and supportive, co laborers in God's Kingdom work. We call upon people from within our midst to cause our school to thrive. Who are the stewards that guard and guide NNU?
NNU Trustees: We are the ones in whom you have placed this sacred trust. We are the Trustees of Northwest Nazarene University. We reaffirm the duty and delight of our task. We pledge to be supportive advocates, caring truth tellers and passionate ambassadors. We seek to build a university that transforms the world for Christ. We desire a professorate that will assist us in training our children, providing a godly perspective on emerging issues in a changing world and model a standard of excellence borne out of a commitment to pursue Christlikeness. We ask, who will step forward to lead and instruct our young?
NNU Faculty: We are the faculty of Northwest Nazarene University. We have answered the call of God upon our lives to model the truth embodied in the life of Jesus Christ, to be good stewards of the gifts and abilities God has given us, and to encourage, strengthen, challenge and prepare students, young and old, to lead well-equipped lives of service. As teacher-scholar-disciples, we live and learn within the community that is NNU. We are committed to academic excellence, professional integrity and a welcoming and nurturing spirit. We shall serve our Lord, our students, our university, our discipline and our community. Yet our work is relational; it requires engaged and active learners. Who will join us in the quest for God, truth, beauty and all that is good?
NNU Students: We have come to Northwest Nazarene University. We are your students. We are from next door and around the world. We are seeking our place, our calling in this world. We long for meaning and purpose. We desire teachers who are mentors. We chose to come to a place where God is primary and students are valued. We desire a safe, redemptive environment; yet we want you to stretch us academically, spiritually and socially. We want to be made globally aware, willing to accept responsibility and the demands of adulthood. Show us how to respect the views of others while growing up into the full measure of Jesus Christ. Give us opportunities to serve, to learn by doing, to give back as part of a caring community.
President: Who will enable the work of our faculty and students? Who will nurture and develop the NNU community?
NNU Administrative Staff: We will join you in covenant. We are the administrators and staff of Northwest Nazarene University. It is our role, our calling to lead by serving. We honor our covenant with God by serving our faculty, students, church and community. We pledge to live lives in harmony with our Christo-centric mission, provide reasonable resources to our colleagues and continuously improve all dimensions of the university. We shall actively support the growth of students and colleagues through mentoring, accountability and peer relationships. In order to fulfill our covenantal calling we need the help of others. Who can assist and provide the means and expertise needed to make vision become reality?
NNU Foundation: We humbly answer the call. We are the Northwest Nazarene University Foundation. We have become covenant partners with NNU. We have found significance in serving the university and her students. We see the world-changing potential in these young people. Therefore, we commit to share our material blessings to fashion a Christian university poised to serve the Treasure Valley and the world. Who will join us in giving back, in giving self in service?
NNU Alumni: We will. We are the alumni of Northwest Nazarene University. This is our alma mater. Though we have graduated, we are still keepers of the covenant. We have chosen vocations that allow us to join with God in establishing His Kingdom. We have taken our alma mater's lessons of compassion and gone out from here to engage the world. We have become His change agents in ways large and small. Who will partner with us in transforming our world?
Churches of the Treasure Valley: We will join you. We are the churches of the Treasure Valley. We are faith partners with NNU. We commit to share vision and action with the people of the university. We shall worship with you and serve alongside you. Together we shall combine our efforts to serve as a light in the valley. Who will call us into the places that need light?
Communities of the Treasure Valley: We will show you where light and salt are needed. We are the people and cities of the Treasure Valley. We covenant with you to be used by God to make our cities, towns and neighborhoods places where the Kingdom of God is established. We shall be socially responsible, compassionate and loving. We will welcome NNU students and graduates into our businesses, boardrooms and classrooms. Together we will reflect the Spirit of Christ to all we meet.
President: Our covenant has no boundaries. Who will go beyond the borders of the world we know so well, to places where needs are severe and faith is not found?
Global Church: We will go. We are the missionaries of Northwest Nazarene University. We have heard God's call and offer our very lives to go to places we have not seen and people we do not know. We are the evidence of a covenant people's obedience, a people willing to serve God to the ends of the earth.
President: Hear us Lord, as we raise our voices in covenant chorus!
People: We are Northwest Nazarene University and we are God's covenant people! We believe in You God, in Your Son and in Your Holy Spirit. You have called us and we have answered with our lives. We seek You, to love You with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. We seek You, Your Kingdom and Your righteousness; in our seeking we find and express love for our neighbor and ourselves. We covenant with You and each other to follow You in holiness of heart and living. We pledge to be and make disciples and to live as one as You are One. We are Northwest Nazarene University and we are God's covenant people. We make this covenant, to love, to learn, to seek and to serve until our Lord's return. Amen.
May God bless this, His covenant and may this be a day of Ebenezer for each of us, as we remember our pledge to be His covenant keepers.
OUR COVENANT FUTURE-The Vision of Covenant
Now, in the glow of the symbolism and significance of covenant renewal, I ask, what happens next? We have spoken of covenants past and present, but what awaits NNU? How will covenant truly be kept in the years ahead? What would God have NNU become? What must we do for covenant renewal to be more than ceremony and symbol?
Do we craft a grand plan of human design? Do we dream a scheme of such scope that it calls us to action? What should drive us and guide us?
I believe we honor and fulfill our covenant pledges by focusing on Christ and His Kingdom. We must remember that the covenant we are called to keep does not necessarily align with the logic and priorities of this world. As was read earlier, "His thoughts are not our thoughts. Nor are His ways our ways." As a covenant people, we must be committed as both university and church to seek the Kingdom of God. We are being called to participate in a countercultural world. We aren't making Him Lord; by entering into covenant, we're entering into the Kingdom where He is Lord. Therefore, we must commit to seek Him and His righteousness with our lives and the life of NNU; only then will we be used by Him to establish His Kingdom, right here, right now.
A vital vision for NNU will emerge as we are faithful to the covenant we have renewed this evening. Allow me to illustrate by highlighting several priorities and programs we see emerging from the essence of covenant and the quest for vision.
You will recall founding pastor, Rev. M.E. Ferdinand's 1913 quote, "we expect to open a "holiness school" and to lift it to a university as soon as God permits." My friends, God has blessed and permitted the "lift" to university. In 1999 NNC became NNU. More than a semantic shift, this change in name signaled a change in scope. As a university, NNU has sought to identify programs, disciplines and students for mission-centric graduate programs. Consequently, NNU now serves over 600 Masters students in a variety of areas and emphases. All graduate programs are offered in a manner directly linked to the spirit and essence of our covenant.
Tonight, that commitment to serve society as a Christian liberal arts university is made even stronger as I announce the establishment of a Master of Science in Nursing and the formation of the NNU School of Nursing & Health Sciences.
Already the NNU nursing program has become one of our largest and most vital fields of study, the addition of the Masters program will further strengthen our role in caring for the sick and hurting.
In 2013 Northwest Nazarene University will celebrate her centennial. As we lean toward our Centennial horizon we do so with a sense of anticipation; as God blesses, new programs and new buildings will complement the growth and vitality the university enjoys. One need only walk across campus to survey the evidence of great buildings soon to be occupied as well as spaces of land awaiting Emerson-like vision and sacrifice. As the Centennial Master Plan takes shape we shall once again look to key laypersons with a sense of vision and the spirit of sacrifice, as we lay plans for a new Learning Commons, a new Student Commons and other structures needed to house programs of promise and vitality.
As the university's scope and sphere of influence continues to expand, we will vigorously uphold and maintain our commitment to intellectual rigor and academic excellence. This has been, and will always be, a hallmark of an NNU education. The work of Wiley and Winchester, Riley and Ford, continues today. Seated behind me on this platform is the university's primary asset, her faculty. I am indebted to them for articulating with me, and for me, the things we hold dear about NNU and our covenantal relationship with the university's various communities.
The Trustees and Administrative Staff of NNU stand ready to resource and support our faculty so that they might more ably and effectively do the work of teaching and mentoring. At NNU, who teaches, what they teach, who they teach and how they teach, is all covenantally important. I have had the privilege of working with several faculty task forces over these few short months in an effort to articulate who we are and how we go about the fundamental work of being Northwest Nazarene University. In particular, I am grateful to Dr. LeClerc, Dr Maddix, Dr. Carrim, Dr. Ponsford and Chaplain Schandorff for their thoughtful insights. In your Inaugural program you will find a document entitled, Hallmarks of an NNU Education.
It is an attempt to capture the spirit and essence of the NNU experience. This document exemplifies the words of Dean Olive Winchester who said in 1927, "We feel that a good wholesome religious life administers to educational standards." I commend the 23 Hallmarks of an NNU Education to you. They provide a thematic description of the beliefs, commitments and experiences that comprise the essence of NNU's institutional life and learning.
In word and deed, NNU is a Christian liberal arts university. We organize ourselves in such a way that we seek to educate the whole person. We welcome traditional aged students into a residential learning environment where they may join faculty and staff in the relational quest for growth of heart and mind. We also serve the adult and graduate learner, providing programs focused on service to society and betterment of self and mastery of craft.
At all levels, we will seek to honor and fulfill our covenant pledges by focusing on Christ and His Kingdom. I do not intend for this to be an inaugural platitude. We, the people of Northwest Nazarene University, seek to be a holy people. We believe that as we keep our relational covenants with God and each other we will be transformed.
John Riley wrote, "the more one follows his heart toward God, the greater must be the submission of the self to God." (Riley, 25) Dallas Willard says, "spiritual formation actually happens as each essential dimension of the self is transformed to Christlikeness under the direction of a regenerate will interacting with constant overtures of grace from God." (Willard, 232) Mildred Winkoop, in writing of the life of God in the soul, said, "the holy life is the moment by moment impartation of the life of Christ to the human heart. In Him, not in us, is holiness." (Winkoop, 86) We want to learn to live in the mystery of the gospel, Christ in us.
Hear me when I say that what I have described here is not to be an optional exploration for a few select students; it must be our corporate journey and quest. NNU will be a place where teacher and student seek, think, discern and experience the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in all we do. Together we seek Christ. Together we establish His Kingdom reign in our lives and the world. We represent strands in His covenant; from Bethlehem, to Calvary, from Pentecost, to the early church, across the years to Wesley, Bresee and Wiley, we seek to know Christ, the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.
In covenant fidelity NNU will intentionally offer each and every member of its community the opportunity to seek to grow up into the full measure and stature of Jesus Christ. Tonight I am announcing the creation of the Wesley Center for Servant Leadership. In establishing this center we are saying to ourselves and to all who would give ear, NNU is seeking to equip herself and her students for a dynamic life in Christ. We are intentionally creating an interdepartmental entity that will foster and encourage the quest for Christlikeness across the campus and across the curriculum.
I am pleased to introduce Rev. Fred Fullerton to you. He will join us April 1st in the newly created position, Vice President for Spiritual & Leadership Development. He will direct the Wesley Center for Servant Leadership and work across departments and across the northwest to marshal forces that will engage us all in living out our Wesleyan/Holiness heritage.
The Wesley Center for Servant Leadership will highlight and reinforce Christ's example of servant leadership in the classroom, the campus community, in graduate seminars, workshops and internships. The Wesley Center will foster scholarly and practical understanding of the servant leader model. Additionally the Wesley Center for Servant Leadership will house:
The Office of Spiritual Formation & Dean of the Chapel; fostering spiritual formation in groups large and small, based upon the belief that the holy life is learned in relationship with God and each other.
The Office of Congregational Development, providing resources in applied theology and leadership development, strengthening the covenant ties that church and university share.
The Office of Kingdom Engagement, establishing Christ's Kingdom in ways long and short, through travel, evangelism and compassion, fulfilling our individual and corporate commitments to the least of these.
Lastly, I am announcing the creation of Bresee Scholars, a generous scholarship program for young people of great faith, great promise and great need. This program is meant to reinforce our commitment to the poor and marginalized by providing educational access to a diverse group who would otherwise not have access to an NNU education.
My dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, this evening we have gathered together to hear stories of covenant past, renew covenant present and look ahead to covenant future. Now it is time to capture these moments in our hearts and memories.
I am going to invite the Inauguration Chorus to come and take their places. As they come, I want to make you aware of a subtle shift in the NNU Seal that is meant to symbolize this time of covenant renewal. Prior to this day a solid band surrounded the elements within the seal. Tonight, and from this point forward, the NNU Seal is to be encompassed by a cord. This cord is meant to represent the cord of covenant, begun by God, continued by His people.
As you know, a cord is only as strong as the sum of its strands. Look around; we are the strands of covenant. Every act of covenant keeping is another strand in the cord of covenant. In ways great and small, grand and humble, we have, and we will, keep covenant with God and each other.
Consider this, God, in Christ, has established covenant with us. Now, He expects us to fulfill our covenant with Him and our covenant with one another. We truly do go out from here with joy. In our covenant keeping will be a sign to all of our commitment to God and each other.
When professors teach and stretch, demand and praise, covenant is kept.
When students study and sacrifice, push and persevere, covenant is kept.
When parents instruct and nurture their children in faith and love, covenant is kept.
When Christians gather together in loving, supportive community, covenant is kept.
When churches pray and give, hope and support, covenant is kept.
Dear friends, let us keep this covenant. Let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Let us fix our eyes on Him and the shadow of His cross. As the people of God and the people of Northwest Nazarene University, may we live out the promise "love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."