Piecing It Together: Orientation Weekend 2006

by Christy Gazanian '07

God First. There are no other words to describe the focus of Orientation Weekend, and the prayer that has covered the APU campus over the years.

A glance down Cougar Walk on Friday, September 1 would give anyone a flash of color and excitement: booth after booth, smile after smile, and boisterous energy exposed the evidence that the class of 2010 and many new transfer students had arrived.

These external measures only express the deeper values that APU holds. Melissa Klein '05, from the Office of Student Success shared, "we want every incoming student to feel like they belong and are a part of the APU family."

Though Orientation Weekend may be a time to focus on the incoming freshman and transfer students, it is the rest of the existing campus body that initiates an effort of love to make that focus evident.

This family love was evident through the administrators who were there to welcome new students and parents. Senior Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students Terry Franson, Ph.D., couldn't help but sport his school spirit by wearing a furry Cougar hat, while expressing his desire for the students to "experience unconditional love and acceptance that would transform their lives more into the image of God." His desire echoes that of Campus Pastor Jamie Noling as she communicated her passion for students to know that "they are so deeply valued by God, and that this is a community that is just so glad to have them as part of it."

Not only did faculty and staff show up to welcome the new students to this campus, but the amount of peer support at Orientation Weekend communicated what the APU family is all about. Alpha Leaders – students whose mission is to embrace and enfold new students into this place – were out in the heat and jumping at the chance to carry loads of boxes to the dorms for new freshmen. It was a family thing, a love thing, and above all, a God thing.

The dedication service on Sunday, September 3, proved to be the day where the concept of the APU family came to fruition. A message from Campus Pastor Woody Morwood illuminated the Alpha-chosen theme of "Piece It Together," based on Romans 12:4-5,"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others"(NIV).

Encouragement is found through this message when an individual uses their God-given passions, talents, and abilities. History and Global Studies major Brittany Taylor ’10 desires to use her passion to "go to another country and do a developmental project in a poverty stricken area," and Business major Brandon Burroughs ’10 is simply excited about "living on campus, and getting involved in [the APU] community." Whether showing love to those at APU or across the world, the transforming source is the same, and that source is Christ.

Morwood’s opening prayer at the dedication service was "that no one in this room will leave the same way they came in." Whether young or old, sick or well, teacher or student, freshman or senior, the prayer was the same. In light of this prayer comes the hope of President Jon Wallace, DBA, for every student who walks on this campus: "That they would embrace God First in their life."