the Goshen College Bulletin | Alumni magazine since 1956
Photo of Rachel Lapp

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 Worship Book, used by Mennonites and other churches in the Believers Church tradition, one of two child blessing readings (#791) includes these lines:
We rejoice with you and give thanks / For the gift of your child.
We promise, with humility and seriousness
To share in your child’s 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 college’s 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 God’s mission on earth.

Goshen College’s 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.

Rachel Lapp's Signature
Top of page