Several Hundred Attend Chapel and Reception
“How wonderful it is to see everyone—students, faculty, and staff—coming together in one place to start the new school year in worship. This is where it really begins!”
So said Doug Nason, director of chapel and assistant professor of communication at Fuller, describing the seminary’s Festival of Beginnings held Wednesday, September 30.
The morning’s events began with a worship service at First Congregational Church in Pasadena, where Fuller’s faculty processed donned in full regalia, and President Richard J. Mouw offered a sermon entitled “’I Will Be With You’: God’s Promise for a New Academic Year.” This was the first of three messages Dr. Mouw will deliver this year on the seminary’s campuswide theme for 2009-2010, drawn from God’s words of reassurance in Isaiah 43:1-7.
The service was followed by a reception with refreshments on Fuller’s central mall, where members of the seminary community both new and continuing took time to mingle and reconnect after the summer break.
“We can face a new academic year with hope based on our confidence in a God who promises to be with us,” Mouw declared in his sermon. “The scholarly life itself is an ongoing journey of stepping into the unknown,” he went on. Every time we pick up a text and read something new, prepare a lecture, or—pertinent to many attending the service—start at a new seminary, “we are stepping into uncharted territory.”
It is important to remember that in Isaiah 43 God was speaking to a community, Mouw pointed out, and he calls us as a seminary community to serve his purposes in the world. “We need to be mindful of the ‘new thing’ God is doing in the world . . . the new thing he wants us to participate in.” Fuller Seminary has never been a “maintenance seminary” but has striven to do new things, Mouw noted—from the vision of its founders for a “new evangelicalism” to the creation of its schools of psychology and intercultural studies.
Citing the example of missionary Horace Grant Underwood, who brought Christianity to Korea in the nineteenth century, “we need to take seriously our obligation to partner with others around the world who are raised up to do a new thing,” Mouw asserted.
Today the “dark continents” we face are the many changing contexts for human interaction—new technologies, new ways of communicating—and, like our missionary forebears, “we can step out in faith into uncharted territories, knowing that if we are faithful, we can be sure of his promise to be with us.”
“’I will be with you’: May it be so in this new academic year of 2009-2010!” Mouw exhorted in conclusion.