About this issue: Discovering our place
Whether snug and sleeping or wiggling and exploring in the arms
of their parents, thousands of infants and toddlers are dedicated
in congregations each year. Across denominations, this is a moment
in the life of a family when the congregation promises to love,
teach and embrace the child, and when the parents make a commitment
to Christian parenthood.In the resources section of Hymnal: A
, used by Mennonites and other churches in the Believers
Church tradition, one of two child blessing readings (#791) includes
We rejoice with you and give thanks / For the gift
of your child.
We promise, with humility and seriousness
To share in your childs nurture and well-being...
May our shared life and witness
Help make your task both joyful and fruitful.
These dedication rituals and congregational commitments are just
the beginning of the nurturing that will take place in the church
family. To come is Christian education Sunday school, summer
programs formerly known as vacation Bible school, mentors,
youth groups and other formal and countless informal settings where
children are shown individual care and discover their place in the
family of God.
Then these children graduate from high school and often leave the
protective arms of family, church and community. They are no longer
the cradled little one though parents still enfold them in
loving arms but teenagers ready for lessons in independence,
from doing their own laundry and filling out loan applications to
gaining knowledge through academics and experiences that take them
to communities unlike those of childhood.
Students come to college to learn more about the world and investigate
their interests and abilities, and to make new friends and mentors.
This can feel like a separation from the world of their childhood,
even from their communities. But young people can develop a deeper
connection to the values that make them caring, compassionate followers
of Christ choosing their paths with the help of a nurturing
college community with congregational care.
At Goshen, this is once again an informal and formal process. Informally,
professors, administrators, staff, peers and community persons are
mentors and friends. Formally, curriculum, rooted in the colleges
mission, provides framework for vocational training and intentional
spiritual development. And one more element infusing everything:
An emphasis on helping students merge their mission with Gods
mission on earth.
Goshen Colleges mission, while different than that of congregations
in relationship to students, clearly continues the process of shaping
generations of Christian leaders in an intentional community. We,
too, give thanks for each new member of our gathering, sharing witness
in a task joyful and fruitful.
In this issue, explore with us the complexity of calling and vocation,
our 2001-2002 general education community theme. A richness exists
here in the willingness of contributors professors, administrators,
students and alumni to share their insights and journeys,
with humility and humor, that we may feel a sense of community in
our vital, individual searches for wholeness.