GOSHEN, Ind. – Philip Hefner, professor emeritus of systematic theology at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, called on Goshen College’s 233 graduates to change the world around them as they go out from college during the school’s 105th commencement on May 25 in the Roman Gingerich Recreation-Fitness Center.
In his commencement address, “Freedom as Gift and Challenge,” Hefner said, “We are not aiming simply at doing good deeds. We aim at nothing less than remaking the status quo in God’s image.”
Since the graduates are at a critical decision-making point about where their futures will take them, Hefner encouraged them not to forget the priority of changing the world around them as they try to fit into new situations “because our future depends on our success in changing the status quo that has led us to this critical point.”
“One of the greatest pressures you will face, and that we all face, is precisely to carry on with business as usual,” he said. “Fitting in with the world around us, on the job, in the larger society, very seldom includes an invitation to fundamental change.”
Hefner pointed to the absence of justice, the growing gap between the rich and the poor, inadequate health care and education, and the unwillingness to hold corporations and foreign policy accountable to show that the status quo is not working for society.
One cannot look at life as having no choices and no possibility for change, Hefner said, ”rather we are called to be participants in God’s creating work.”
Many of the graduates have committed themselves to working at such change in the world, as 81 graduates signed a pledge to be aware of their social and environmental responsibilities as they pursue their careers.
During the commencement service, Randy Springer (Hopedale, Ill.), father of graduate Renee Springer, offered the invocation; Academic Dean Anita Stalter presented the candidates with assistance by Registrar Stanley Miller, and degrees were conferred by President Shirley H. Showalter; and Gayle Gerber Koontz (Goshen, Ind.), mother of Rachel Koontz, offered the benediction. Provost John Yordy recognized four retiring faculty members: Ervin Beck, professor of English, Kathy Kauffman, associate librarian, Doyle C. Preheim, professor of music, and June Templin, information technology user services specialist.
The commencement ceremony Sunday afternoon was the culmination of a weekend filled with reminiscing, honoring graduates and celebrating the end of the school year. Eight seniors received their nursing pins during a ceremony Saturday afternoon and the seniors’ talents were celebrated in Saturday evening’s senior class program with music, theater, dance, poetry reading and a slide show of senior memories. President Shirley H. Showalter gave the message, “Knowing with Integrity,” at a Sunday morning baccalaureate service.
Graduates earning degrees this year represented 21 states and 17 countries. Eight graduates completed the requirements to graduate with honors. Thirty-nine students graduated from the Goshen College Adult Programs. And in its first graduating class, the Goshen College in Florida program gave degrees to 19 students in a Sarasota ceremony earlier in May. Photos from this event can be viewed online.
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