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Corban University

August 28, 2019

“Rally and Take Heart”: Corban University Commences 2019-20 Academic Year with Convocation Ceremony

“The bellow of bagpipes moves something in me,” said Kelton Hedstrom, Corban’s SGA President, during his address to the student body at Convocation.

Bagpipes have long been an enjoyable tradition at Corban University’s Convocation and Commencement ceremonies—two events that bookmark the academic year, ushering in the year with hope and excitement and concluding it with celebration and accomplishment. At both events, the Willamette Valley Pipes and Drums have provided regal processional music.

But in this year’s address, Kelton brought a new perspective to this well-loved tradition. “Bagpipes are not subtle instruments,” he says. “They’re not delicate. They don’t mumble, nor do they whimper. Bagpipes—there’s actually a word to describe it—they skirl.” For Kelton, bagpipes suggest being rallied to action, rallied to a common cause and purpose. And this was the message he hoped Corban students and faculty would take away. “What causes us to rally and take heart? I am convinced it is the victory of Christ Jesus.”

The idea of rallying together, taking heart, and pursuing Christ wove throughout each Convocation address. Over and over, students were reminded that although Convocation is a celebratory occasion, it’s also meant to fortify them for the challenges they’ll face in the year ahead and to recognize that their journey will require commitment and dedication.

From Professor Tamara McGinnis’ opening prayer to Provost Dr. Tom Cornman’s address, students were challenged to remember Corban University’s mission “to educate Christians who will make a difference in the world for Jesus Christ” and reflect on the Presidential Theme for the upcoming year, “Take Heart,” based on John 16:33.

McGinnis prayed, “In Your sovereignty, Lord, some of us this year will suffer loss, will fail in our endeavors, and will experience discouragement or despair. Prepare our hearts and minds to say with Jesus, ‘Not my will, but thine be done.’”

Meanwhile, Dr. Cornman encouraged students to remember what it actually means to center your life on Christ. “Many colleges claim to be Christ-centered. This begs the question, ‘Who is the Christ upon which we are centered?’”

He encouraged students to remember that the Christ who overcame the world in John 16:33 is more than “Jesus is my friend.” Rather, Jesus is our “Redeemer, Lord, King, and Savior.” Thus, a Christ-centered life is more than good feelings and good times. It’s “an unswerving devotion and obedience” grounded in God’s Word and sound theology. Dr. Cornman encouraged students to pursue their faith seriously in the upcoming year, remembering that while knowledge of God’s Word doesn’t guarantee spiritual growth, spiritual growth is impossible without knowledge of God’s Word.

Finally, students were asked to take active part in committing to the pursuit of excellence, humility, and leadership. One by one, each class recited a unique pledge outlining their promises to the Corban community.

While seniors pledged to take their place as role models, “generous in help, sparing in criticism, and courageous in facing the future,” juniors pledged to take their place as upperclassmen and “be an example in the classroom, in the residence hall, and on the street of mature citizenship.”

Sophomores pledged to “assist and encourage younger students as they adjust to university life,” and freshmen promised not to take the gift of a college education for granted, but to “honor the gift I have been given by diligent study and courteous conduct, recognizing the dignity and value of those around me.”

Finally, faculty pledged to their students “not to be served but to serve” in their roles as teachers, mentors, and leaders.

Convocation concluded with the passing out of coin keychains with the year’s theme “Take Heart” on one side and the University seal on the other. Dr. Nord encouraged students to keep the keychain close, and to pray for their fellow students whenever they saw it, asking for “extra measures of God’s grace, mercy, and wisdom.”

As the sound of bagpipes began to blare and skirl through the air once again, faculty and students filed out of the Psalm Center and into the August morning, new encouragement and resolve on their faces and in their hearts as they embarked on the next year (and for some, the very first year) of their journey at Corban University.