by Lisa Allgood, Executive Presbyter
Dr. Nathan O. Hatch became President of Wake Forest University in 2005. In his inaugural address to the Trustees and the University body, he said “Above all, students today long for one thing: to narrow the gap between the ideals we profess and the lives we lead. They are looking for models of how to integrate the often incoherent facets of their lives.”
Guess what – that same statement could be made of millennials and Gen Z when it comes to church. Even Boomers as we transition to retirement (well, some of us, anyway). And in fact – aren’t all of us still working that out?
He went on to lay out the concept of a community rooted in “engaged learning, the ambition of diversity, and a commitment to service and faith.”
Guess what – that same statement could be worth gold if applied when it comes to church: “We are a community committed to engaged learning of the Word, with the ambition of seeing diversity as Imago Dei, with a commitment to service to and faith in our Lord.”
His vision was to balance the personal attention of a smaller college with the academic vitality and broad opportunities of a research university, with values at the heart of the mission.
Guess what – if that same statement could be “Our church’s vision is to balance personal attention to our members and leaders, Biblical teaching and broad opportunities to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors, with Christ at the heart of the mission”, it could be worth gold if applied when it comes to church.
He ended his address by challenging the University as a whole to “Let us rekindle Wake Forest’s finest tradition: a face-to-face community grounded in the liberal arts, passionate about professional education, and committed to living out the values we profess as individuals and as a community.”
Guess what – if every one of us could say “Let us rekindle our church’s finest heritage: a face-to-face community grounded in the love of Christ, passionate about spreading the Gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit, and committed to living out loud, daily, hourly, the values we profess as individuals and as a community”, it could be worth gold if applied when it comes to church. And to our very souls.
Worth a try, Presbytery of Cincinnati…?
PS: When Meredith graduated from Wake – yes, a very proud Demon Deacon – Stephen Colbert was the commencement speaker. He referred to Dr. Hatch as “Natty O.” Needless to say, it stuck. ☺