On Monday, September 14, Central Provost Robert E. Johnson welcomed virtual participants to the 2020 Fall Convocation Service, the 239th such service in Central’s history. Along with welcoming the participants, Dr. Johnson reported Central has welcomed 428 students for this academic term, about 20 of whom are in the new Master of Arts in Counseling program. He reminded the audience that 100 years ago, the world was also immersed in a pandemic, the Spanish flu, but that while no mention was made of how the seminary was affected by that outbreak, the archives do mention the financial hardships the seminary was facing in those days. He also pointed out that within 10 years the seminary recorded its largest enrollment to date.
Seminary Board Chairperson Jim Cook reflected on the theme of the service “A New Thing.” He noted that in the midst of the “what now” that goes along with any set of new circumstances, we are reminded that God is with us:
“Do not fear says,” our God, “for I am with you.” It is a refrain of hope that celebrates the presence of the living God in every season, in every new thing.
Now, right now, is filled with the presence and possibility of God, working through us, to be creative agents of renewal and redemption in our world. “I am with you, even now.”
Along with these remarks, other elements included scriptures read in English and Korean by members of the seminary community, a prayer for the community by seminary trustee Pat Griffen, and two musical reflections from Assistant Professor Kwangsup Shin, accompanied by his wife and daughter, and Executive Vice President George Townsend.
Central Seminary President Pamela R. Durso delivered her first convocation homily to a virtual audience. Preaching from Isaiah 43:1-7, 16-19, Durso reminded participants, just as Isaiah pointed out to the Israelites in Babylon, “Don’t miss what is to come. Don’t be so caught up in the past or wrapped up in your remembering that you aren’t able to experience what is next. What is NOW. What is NEW.”
Durso also pointed out that, like the Israelites, seminary students and other members of the seminary community, have companions for this new journey:
I believe that seminary at its very best is a place of discovery, a place of wonder, a place of dreaming—about the NEW that God is doing in and through and with you.
And that is why I believe in Central and in its mission, for I have heard the stories, stories of professors and mentors and fellow students who have been the ones to awaken the imagination of another, inviting them to BEHOLD the new thing God was doing, encouraging them to be ready for what is to come, challenging them to STRETCH their IMAGINATION in order to SEE more, to see farther.
President Durso ended her words with the prayer, “…that YOUR IMAGINATION be awakened and that you SEE AND BEHOLD all that God is doing, all that God will be doing, and that you be ready for God’s something NEW.”
To listen to the Convocation service click here.
For President Durso’s address, click here.
For the Convocation order of worship, click here.