2021 Theme: "Everyone is Called: Meeting Diverse Students Needs in Difficult Times.”
Dates: August 19-20, 2021.
Registration: Open until Friday August 13, 2021.
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine… I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." Isaiah 43:1,6-7”
Dear Andrews University Community:Isaiah 43 chronicles God’s promise of deliverance. The chapter begins thus: But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth - everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made" (Isaiah 43: 1, 6–7).
Fittingly, the theme for this year’s Faculty Institute is Everyone is Called: Meeting Diverse Students Needs in Difficult Times. The truth is that teaching is more than a profession. It is a vocation—a calling if you will. Our scriptural passage and theme remind us of our special relationship with God. If C.S. Lewis is right, and I think he is, when he said that God whispers in our pleasures and shouts in our pain, then I wonder what messages God has shouted to us during the pandemic. A vivid message I heard was, you are not alone. Like you, some aspects of my life were shaken during the pandemic, and other aspects were strengthened. Our calling was strengthened. For our Friday plenary, Christina Bieber Lake will speak on “Flourishing or Flailing? Recovering the Joy of Teaching in Difficult Times.” There is dignity after difficulty.
There are two lessons from our passage and theme that I call on us to reflect upon. First, God is with us! And He confirms that reality by simply making factual assertions. I have redeemed you! I have called you! You are mine! No argument. No dissension. We belong to God. For many of us, the pandemic had two faces, because we are dealing with two viruses. There is the biological virus which wreaked havoc on our physical, emotional and social wellbeing; and then there is the sociological virus that attacked our humanity and identity. It is altogether refreshing to hear the voice of God, shouting in our pain, that we matter. Our lives matter to Him.
The second lesson is that God has called His “sons from afar and His daughters from the ends of the earth” and is gathering them at Andrews University. That means, Andrews University is God’s place and is our home! This “gathering” includes our students. God has called them from afar off—from the ends of the earth—and has brought them to us. And now we are called to join God in the transformative work that He is doing in the lives of our students. Our work of education is transformative! Our work of education is salvific! Our work of education calls us to meet the needs of our students. Each student is unique, and their needs are unique. My charge to you is, do not be satisfied with teaching the class, teach each student! With this concept in mind, Talithia Williams will challenge us during the Thursday plenary to create classrooms where every student thrives.
The days are evil. The challenge is great. But God reminds us to fear not. He has redeemed us. We are His. We have heard the call. And now, we respond with joy. We shall meet the diverse needs of our unique students, in these difficult times, with joy. So, help us God!