Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Start of the Year

Bethany Church was the site of two Bethany College beginning of the year events today.

President Ed Leonard was guest preacher at the 10:30 service, when Bethany Church gave a $10,000 scholarship check to the college. Today was the church's 138th anniversary, and the full church was testimony to the importance of the church to the college and the community.

President Leonard's sermon was on the text from Hebrews 12:1-2. The writer to the Hebrews, President Leonard reminded us, exhorted his congregation to look to the "pioneers" of the faith, to the "great cloud of witnesses" who direct our gaze to the true pioneer, Jesus.

In order to meet the challenges, Leonard continued, we need perseverance - the quality that one gains in preparation for a long race - like the Chicago Triathalon. Leonard reported in this sermon that he had experience with perseverance, having trained for and competed in that triathalon twenty years ago.

Further, we have to keep our goals focused on Jesus, the Lord of the church. As the Bethany motto has it, all must be "of the Lord," and "for the Lord."

Later that day Bethany's new students, their parents, and orientation staff gathered in the Bethany Church sanctuary for the annual service that marks the beginning of the school year.

Pastor Noni Strand, interestingly, took that same text - Hebrews 12:1-2 for her sermon, but gave it an entirely different twist. Pastor Strand's sermon focused on the great cloud of witnesses - the living ones, primarily - who will surround and uphold these new students as they work their way through the first year of college.

Of course, not all of those witnesses were in the action all the time

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Bethany Church moves on to preparations for its new Pastor, Loren Mai, arriving in the next two weeks and beginning ministry with the congregation on September 1st.

Bethany College moves into orientation mode this week. New faculty orientation is Monday. New student orientation begins tonight and continues through the whole of the week. Orientation has been restored to the week long event it was throughout the 1970's, in the hopes that Bethany can improve retention of new students.

I do not have figures on the number of new students, nor on the number of new faculty and staff at the college.

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