Serving Christ Outside the Lines
Jon R. Wallace, DBA, President
I stand before you tonight with a daunting task. With the limited time available I want to unpack a mission-centered conversation that has been much on my mind, while also bringing you up to speed on several important informational items. Let me first start by drilling down into the information side.
- This summer, Provost Michael M. Whyte, Ph.D., and the academic leadership team recommended the birthing of two schools from APU’s School of Education and Behavioral Studies: the School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences and the School of Education.
- Based on the most significant learning from my study leave, we established the Executive Leadership Team, consisting of David E. Bixby, Ed.D., executive vice president for advancement; Michael M. Whyte, Ph.D., provost; and John C. Reynolds, NH Dip: Comp Sys, senior vice president for administration. This team will serve as the second-in-command entity within the university leadership structure.
- Provost Michael M. Whyte, Ph.D., presented his emerging academic vision for APU.
- We received a $1 million pledge to fund ceramics scholarships for students in the Department of Art.
- We received a $1.5 million pledge to establish The Academy for Strengths-Based Education and Leadership.
- More than 100 department budget officers put forth tremendous efforts to respond appropriately to our difficult budget year.
- The 2004-05 school year graduated 1,900 students in its December, May, and July commencement ceremonies.
These are just a few of the many significant accomplishments and strategic next steps that will keep us mission-centered. I think that is what excites me the most about my call to APU – serving outside the lines with you to advance God’s work in the world.
Our theme for this evening and for the year is Serving Christ – Outside the Lines. The group who brainstormed this theme with me this summer felt as I do that it truly captures one of the most unique and powerful values of the APU culture—the fact that we embrace the daring, audacious, transformational claims of Jesus Christ as captured in the Gospel narrative. The APU Christ-centered culture pushes back against society’s views that we should live and serve safely between the lines. The film, Schindler’s List, is a reminder of someone who dared to serve outside the established lines his culture had established to cheapen and devalue human life. History records that Oscar Schindler responded to the emerging tragedy of the Holocaust by saving the lives of more than 1,100 Jewish men, women, and children. He deeply valued each person, each life, each name.
I want to unpack our corporate understanding of what I believe to be God’s powerful call on each one of us to escape traditional between-the-lines thinking and move into a radical, outside-the-lines, Christ-centered thinking. As faculty and staff who are Christ-followers, we live in light of eternity. As disciples and scholars, we move this mission-centered university forward, realizing that someday we will all stand before God to give account of the investment we made in the lives of each student entrusted to our care.
I hold in my hand a list of more than 7,000 student names from this past year’s enrollments. This same list is replicated by first name only and runs the length of the tables that you sit at tonight – a list of undergraduate, School of Adult and Professional Programs (APS), and graduate students who were taught from a Christian worldview that embraces the Lordship of Christ and the reliability of Scripture. These are the names of students you taught, you served, you mentored, you discipled, you prayed with. This list symbolically represents life. I believe that the experience of every student in every class in every program – undergrad, adult, graduate, and doctoral – promotes the opportunity of life, of Life Everlasting. And although we may not know with certainty all the names on our list as Oscar Schindler did, we know with certainty that Christ-centered faculty, staff, administrators and Board of Trustees members create opportunity for life in this Christ-centered community. Schindler’s list saved the lives of 1,100 men, women, and children. We believe the names on our list will be used by God to redeem and save the world.
Listen to our theme verse from I Peter 4:10-11:
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If you speak, you should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If you serve, you should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
Can’t you see Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, addressing this faculty and staff? This verse rightly assumes that all Christ-followers have received a gift from God. In this verse, Peter talks about speaking and serving. What a great picture for faculty and staff. In fact, I think faculty do more than speak; and staff do more than serve, but it does help paint a picture about how these two gifts can bring transformation to the lives of our students. Peter says, “If you’re going to speak, speak as if your words are the very words of God.” Is there a better picture for faith integration than that? And if you’re going to serve, we should do so as if it is God’s very strength working through us. What a great picture – speak God’s word; serve with God’s strength. That is living outside the lines.
One of the best examples I have of an APU community member who served outside the lines is Dr. Chip Anderson. As most of you are aware, God took Chip home on July 5, 2005. I know many of us were privileged to know Chip and see the remarkable way God used him to bring a deep understanding to students about their call.