Students were greeted Wednesday morning with the sound of shofars, the traditional Hebrew ram’s horn, echoing across campus in preparation for the third annual convocation ceremony. Convocation is both the event signaling the start of the school year and the incoming class’s “initiation into discovering what it means to be a Corbanite,” said Hannah Fish, Event Department’s student intern.
Students were ushered to sit with their classes, underclassmen seated on the floor, while upperclassmen took the top tiers in the Psalm Center. Bagpipes sounded as professors proceeded to their seats on the stage. Jim Hills, the senior faculty member, led the procession holding a traditional academic mace in his right hand. The staff was embellished with an eagle resting upon the Holy Bible and made of wood from Indonesia.
“The shofars always give me chills,” Cody Trahan said. “When they go off, they get me excited. The shofars give a celebration sound, a sound that signifies something special.”
Convocation began with advice from professor Jerry Johnson.
Johnson began his advice by asking students to pull out their phones and to download various apps to help manage their priorities. Listing four pieces of wisdom Johnson asked students to begin a gratitude journal, to put their phones away at the start of class or in the lunch room in order to meet new friends, to meditate on the Word and to take care of their physical health. Citing various journals and studies, he encouraged students to take care to have a successful year.
Johnson was followed by an address by ASB President Micah Ropp. Ropp conveyed his prayer for the students this school year, saying how each student had a different reason or story of how they came to Corban. However, God didn’t call us to Corban to study the Bible, he said “He brought you here to be with Him.” Ropp urged his peers to look to Jesus as an example.
Trahan noticed the need to prioritize and spend time in prayer was abundant throughout the ceremony, Ropp spoke on spending alone time with God, while Johnson spoke in regards to being intentional.
“Jesus had people with legitimate needs, but he stepped back to prioritize what relationship mattered most,” Trahan said.
Worship was then led by Joey Meador, and students and members of faculty recited the class pledges.
This year seniors read their pledge first, adding a greater sense of responsibility. The classes “nurture the one above or before, like a family,” Cassie Ledbetter said.
The pledges themselves were written by Hills and will remain the same for years to come.
“The pledges are structured toward taking care of community and being Christ-like stewards,” Samuel Reno said.
After the reading of the pledges, coins were given to all those in attendance. One face of the coin is etched with the shield of Corban University, while the other reads “Guided by Truth Psalms 25:5” around the border with a lighthouse in the middle.
“The coins serve as a reminder throughout the year of what we each pledged,” Fish said.
Convocation is riddled with symbolism and intentionality, each pledge serving as a purpose of unifying every class to each other and to the greater body of Corban.
“The class pledges unify each class by giving each one a specific task and mindset for the year ahead,” Fish said. “The pledge of unison aligns each individual’s understanding of what Corban’s goal is for each individual and as a campus as a whole. It puts everyone on the same page before we embark on the new season.”
After the pledges, Ropp dismissed students from the Psalms Center, seniors first as a symbol of their years of dedication to study and to the university.
“Convocation highlighted how close the school actually is,” James Donnell said.
Below are the pledges read.
I recognize that there are many young people in America and around the world who would love to be here but cannot. As one of the blessed I promise to honor the gift I have been given by diligent study, by courteous conduct, by respect for the property of the university and of other students, and by recognizing the dignity and value of those around me.
I recall my own fears and uncertainties just one year ago, and promise to assist and encourage younger students as they adjust to university life with its added freedoms and responsibilities. I pledge to be the kind of person they can look to for an example of academic responsibility, social grace, and growing spiritual and emotional maturity.
I recognize the added level of responsibility that comes with being an upper classman. I accept the expectations of leadership that I inherit with advanced standing, and promise to be an example in the classroom, in the residence hall and on the street of mature citizenship, to live and speak in ways that make visible the ideals of a Christian education.
As I prepare for a final year of study here I that I have not come this far alone. I thank those who have helped me, and in gratitude and hope promise to finish strong the race I began three years ago. I will show my younger brothers and sisters what it means to think, speak and act in ways that are Christian, to be generous in help, sparing in criticism, and courageous in facing the future.
I acknowledge that I am here not to be served but to serve, that my skills and expertise are talents given by my Master, Who requires me to invest them in His service—that is to say, for the benefit of others: my students, my colleagues, my community, and all those Jesus defines as my neighbor. I promise to carry on the business of this university as Scripture commands, without murmuring and disputing. The Apostle Paul pointed out that knowledge without love “puffs up.” I promise that that will never be true of me.