Faith Rising Finale: An Evening of Celebration
It was a celebratory sprint on Gordon’s campus last week. The College honored President Michael Lindsay for his 10 years of service, installed two endowed chair positions, cheered for the Classes of 2020 and 2021 in two Commencement ceremonies, and announced the completion of the Faith Rising campaign.
Faith Rising’s staggering grand total—$186 million raised by 10,000 friends—was revealed by President Lindsay last Thursday night under a shower of balloons and confetti on the Gordon quad. The four-year effort rallied support from 50 U.S. states and 32 counties, allowing Gordon to rapidly eclipse its peers in endowment growth and adapt its educational and financial model to better meet the emerging needs of students.
“Sometimes when you’re in the fray of an effort like Faith Rising, it’s difficult to appreciate what’s really been accomplished,” said interim vice president Mark Dillon in his opening words at the finale event. “To achieve what Gordon has achieved in four years, actually less than four years, is to my knowledge, without precedent in the Christian higher education.”
Affordable, adaptable, anchored
Faith Rising was built on three pillars: greater affordability for students, adaptable education to broaden Gordon’s reach, and anchored Christian community. Three students spoke to the impact of these pillars on their own Gordon experiences.
“Let’s put it this way,” said Peter Lee ’22, a business administration major and youth ministry minor. “I was not supposed to be here.” The son of missionaries to India, the cost of college in the U.S. felt out of reach. “I was able to get scholarships, and what seemed impossible at the moment, I know God made it possible,” he said before concluding in song with “Then Sings My Soul.” Through the affordability pillar, Gordon has lowered tuition by 33 percent and added more than 40 new scholarships.
In addition to making a Gordon education more affordable, Faith Rising has also made it more accessible to more students. “You know, in an afternoon classes or GCSA forum, you might hear me say, ‘Can Michaela present first? It’s 10 p.m. her time,’” said Cam Grinnell ’22. As student body president, Grinnell, a triple major in political science, economics and biblical studies, led a team of students living hundreds of miles away from Gordon. Through the adaptable pillar, Gordon has added five fully online degree programs and now offers more than 30 accelerated bachelor’s plus master’s programs.
But as Global Honors Scholar Salome Palmer ’20 concluded: We can’t grow unless our roots go deep. “And the roots of Gordon College go deep, anchored in the immovable lordship of Christ.” Through the anchored pillar, Gordon has launched the Career and Connection Institute, added new La Vida programs, and renovated more than 100,000-square-feet of community-building space on campus.
Let us not forget
“Every time we talk about the campaign, there’s a new aspect of the miracle,” remarked keynote speaker and trustee Rev. Dr. Nicole Martin. “The largest gift given to any Christian institution of our size, the shortest timeframe, the largest jump in an endowment.” But, she urged the audience to remember, “This is God’s miracle at work.”
Speaking on Deuteronomy 6, verses 10 through 12, she outlined three important truths to remember. First, she said, is that God covers us in crises: “This understanding of God as the one who brings us out of Egypt is used 25 times in the Old Testament . . . God brought his people out of Egypt through crises. I repeat: crises and multiple crises . . . Friends, if this campaign has taught us anything, it’s the fact that in the midst of multiple crises and the list of reasons where we should have given up, God has covered us in the midst of it all.”
Second, we should not forget, Martin said, that God makes ways in the wilderness. “Before [the Israelites] entered the promised land, there was a moment when they entered the wilderness,” she said. “The wilderness represented an unknowing, a discomfort, a dis-ease. But it was in the wilderness that God shaped the most fundamental thing that they would need for the rest of their lives: In the wilderness, God shaped faith . . . This campaign has reminded us, even in the midst of hard seasons and wilderness times God will allow faith to be shaped.”
And finally, Martin said, we must remember that God is the one who delivers us from distraction. Likening distractions to gnats, she suggested a simple solution to combat the swarm: “Lift your hands.” The gnats will naturally rise away from your face and up to the highest point in your body. So, “when the gnats come in this next season (because they will come), when the crises come in the next season (because they will come), I pray that we like the Israelites will remember to keep our hearts and our minds on the one who brought us out of Egypt . . . When the distractions come, may we lift our eyes and our ears and our hands to the Lord. And remember that it is God who is worthy to be praised.”