East Texas Baptist University held its annual 2018 Fall Convocation chapel service on Friday, September 7 at 10:00 a.m. Convocation, a tradition among academic institutions across the country, is designed to celebrate the beginning of a new academic year by bringing together students, faculty, staff, and trustees.
“At ETBU, this occasion is a reminder for the University community to have our eyes focused on the One, who this institution is founded upon,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “God has called us as a Christ-centered institution to prepare students for what God has called them to do. Students, you will be educated, equipped, and empowered to serve in the name of Jesus. Convocation is an opportunity to celebrate as a University Family all that the Lord has done and will do in our lives and through ETBU.”
Dr. Blackburn recognized the ETBU Board of Trustees for their leadership, service, and support of the University.
“Our prayer for the family of East Texas Baptist is that, in pursuit of knowledge, your wisdom would be based on a loving relationship with the Lord,” ETBU Board of Trustees Chair and Wiseman Ministries Development Director Cary Hilliard said. “The aim of the ETBU community is to seek to serve, just as Jesus Christ laid down His life and served humanity that all may experience His redemption and sustaining grace.”
Reverend Michael A. Evans provided the keynote address at the ceremony. Dr. Evans has served as the Senior Pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas for more than 27 years and is currently the President of Texas Baptists (BGCT). Dr. Evans challenged students to embrace new opportunities with confidence in Christ.
“I hope that you know and feel the blessed pride and privilege of attending this historic institution. ETBU now serves as a place that educates men and women, despite their family origin, color, or creed to reach the heights of education and allow students to discover their calling and purpose,” Dr. Evans charged. “This year ought to be a year packed with promise, challenge, and new opportunities. I am here to encourage you to seize the day. This is your time for self-discovery, internal excavation, and self-examination. Be true to your God-given passions and motivations as you seek. To each of the classes represented, dare to step out of the box but not out of the Bible.”
During the 2018 Fall Convocation service, every type of University member was recognized and encouraged. Students, faculty, staff, and administration each received a Scripture reading, prayer, commitment, and blessing over them as they enter the new academic year.
“As the years have passed since 1932, the ‘Light on the Hill’ in front of Marshall Hall has taken on a deeper, more personal significance for the ETBU family. The light burns day and night, symbolizing enduring guidance, knowledge, and truth,” ETBU Director of Student Success explained. “We believe that students chose ETBU as a result of God’s leadership. It is students’ openness to that leadership that the University wishes to acknowledge and affirm, whether they are just beginning or about to graduate.”
All students recited a commitment aloud together, “We are the light of the world. Lord, please let our light shine in such a way that others may see our good works and glorify You in heaven and be drawn to your Son, Jesus. We further pledge to honor and lead our fellow students in the pursuit of academic excellence, knowledge, and wisdom for the glory of You, Lord.”
Dr. Blackburn concluded Convocation with the official pronouncement, “We are all united by one Spirit and one purpose with my colleagues of faculty and staff, who are co-laborers in the Kingdom of light. We are divinely called by God to serve, commissioned by Jesus Christ to share the Gospel message. We are empowered as faculty and staff by the Board of Trustees to lead in a way that guides students to follow God’s call on their lives. I declare this year at ETBU for Jesus. We consecrate this University for Jesus Christ and Him alone.”