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Gordon Conwell: Orientation Week

Gordon-Conwell does it right. Let’s be honest, I have never had such such a blessed orientation week. Usually orientation is not something I look forward to. It conjures memories of figuring out loads of administrative hubbub that needs to be done to matriculate. Maybe I was on top of things this year, but the actual administrative tasks needed to matriculate were few and simple.

Orientation week began with a wonderful morning of worship with the incoming student class. The President Dr. Dennis Hollinger gave the sermon, which was leagues better than most sermons I have heard in my lifetime. It was an encouraging word and he said one thing in the sermon that has really impacted me. It’s one of the things I have noticed Gordon-Conwell does right. Dr. Hollinger emphasized that this place was designed for us to study well and grow in our knowledge and understanding of God, but the primary task of the seminary was for us to continue to cultivate our relationship with God. The matter of the heart as primacy has been a theme that been evident throughout my first few weeks here. I tell you it was an incredible breath of fresh air to hear this; to know that a seminary who prides itself on academic rigor and yet believes that our heart and relationship with God is the most important thing we can attend to in our time here was tear invoking. I sat in the pew fighting tears.

Having just spent three years at Princeton Theological Seminary, I can say that this was not an overt value of the seminary faculty. I’m sure they would have agreed with this statement (some), but the overt principle driving my Master of Divinity program was one of academic rigor and (what seemed to me and others often) oneupsmanship. Sure there were a few members of the faculty that emphasized our spiritual health, but it had to be sought out. What I have seen at Gordon-Conwell is an abundant desire on behalf of every faculty member I have met thus far for our relationship with God to be cultivated. Gordon-Conwell is doing things right. It’s a joyous feeling knowing this year will be one of great relational growth with God and not simply an academic pursuit.

Praise rolls off my tongue this week Lord for your guidance. Thank you for bringing Kim and I to this blessed seminary. Thank you for reminding us of your love. We praise you above all other things that vie for our attention. You are good and wonderful and holy.

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