By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
Students, faculty, administrators and alumni gathered Sunday night to recommit to the mission of the university for the next century as it begins to celebrate its first 100 years.
Sunday’s Covenant Service allowed attendees to look back at the school’s first 100 years of blessings and struggles, give thanks for those times and look ahead to the future.
“I hope people take away a deeper appreciation for our past and a greater confidence in our future—a future full of hope,” Dr. Royce Money, president of the university, said after the service.
Dr. Jack Reese, dean of the College of Biblical Studies, and Dr. Cheryl Bacon, chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, organizers of the event, divided the service into five parts focusing on remembering God, professing trust in him, confessing shortcomings, giving thanks and making a covenant.
Reese said in an e-mail that scriptures from Deuteronomy were also read because the book was a call to the people of Israel to keep a covenant. Reese also highlighted the section on confessing shortcomings.
“It was especially important to have a time to ask forgiveness of sins,” Reese said. “This is always part of ancient covenant services. It says, ‘God is the maker of our covenant; we are dependent on him.'”
Money said during his introduction of the service that it is important for the university to remember its blessings as well as struggles.
“We will take all we have done over the last century … and lay them at the feet of God,” Money said.
In that spirit, Claudette Spain Rogers, class of 1967 and daughter of former ACU professor Dr. Carl Spain, read an excerpt from her father’s 1960 Lectureship speech, which helped pave the way for racial integration at ACU.
“We knew from the beginning we wanted excerpts from Dr. Spain’s famous Lectureship address,” Reese said. “How wonderful it was for his daughter to be present to read portions of that speech.”
After the service, Rogers said it was an honor to speak on the subject of equality—a subject people still struggle with today, even though the groups affected change.
“And I think we’re making progress,” Rogers said. “You can look around this auditorium and see that dream is becoming a reality.”
In one of the lighter moments of the ceremony, the audience viewed an interview with Willie Waters Henry, who came to the university in 1919 and is one of the school’s oldest living alumni. Waters, who was born in November of 1904 and has also celebrating her 100th birthday nine months ago, talked about the early days of the university.
To close out the event, Money led the audience in a responsive reading in which Money read several different statements calling the audience to commit to continuing the mission of the university and the work of God, and the audience agreed to each in unison: “We will.”
Money said he enjoyed the event because people were able to see the continuous chain of events in the university that brought it to where it is today.
“It was really moving,” Money said.
Reese said he hopes those in attendance would feel blessed to be part of the university.
“And I hope they will keep the commitments we all made to continue to be faithful to God and to keep the school focused on its mission,” Reese said.