The Pacific Union College Church sanctuary was filled with the sounds of energy and excitement as the Opening Convocation service began, Thursday, September 29. Administration and faculty marched into the sanctuary in full regalia during the traditional recessional while students, both new and returning, found their seats.
Walter Collins, vice president for advancement and alumni relations, gave the invocation, asking God to bless the college and its students throughout the coming year, saying “May they find You here in all that they learn and all whom they meet. May You speak through our faculty, may You act through our staff, may You lead through our leaders, all bearing witness to Your loving grace.”
A hymn of praise followed, then a reading of Romans 8:28. “Palladio” by Karl Jenkins was performed by the PUC orchestra strings, conducted by Dr. Rachelle Davis, chair of the department of music.
PUC President Heather J. Knight gave the morning’s address, titled “The Purpose-Driven Campus.” She began with a brief history of the college, emphasizing it was founded with a very distinctive mission: “They Shall Be All Taught of God.” PUC moved to Angwin in 1909, and fortuitously, the first day of class was September 29, exactly 107 years ago to the day of opening convocation. The first graduating class from the Angwin campus was in 1912 with nine students; a sharp contract to the June 2016 graduating class of 393 seniors.
Dr. Knight addressed the students, saying, “As you enter this exciting tapestry of learning, after a while the dots will start to connect. You will get a beautiful picture, that moment of epiphany, where you will see how all knowledge is interconnected, because all knowledge comes from one central source: our loving God.”
Dr. Knight’s talk was inspired by pastor Rick Warren’s books “The Purpose Driven Life” and “The Purpose Driven Church.” She affirmed she is committed to leading a purpose-driven campus and stated three points she believes such a campus must have: A shared sense of mission, which values the original purpose of PUC to educate young people to help spread the Gospel while maintaining the Adventist philosophy of holistic education; it must be a place that helps the campus community develop meaning and purpose in life; and be a place of transformation and transcendence, where together we can become an intentional Christian community characterized by caring, compassion, and Christ-centeredness. “Let us determine this year as never before to truly embody, to truly live out, and truly aspire to become a purpose-driven campus,” she said in closing.
The service ended with a powerful, passionate rendition of “Take Me to the King” sung by special musical guest Melody Germany-Wilson, which drew an enthusiastic response from the audience. Following the benediction, students, faculty, and staff filed out of the sanctuary, ready for another year at Pacific Union College filled with God’s richest blessings.