Thursday, May 03, 2007

You Were Really Good!

From the Gettysburg PO
by Michael L. Cooper-White,
Seminary President

In a baccalaureate sermon to the Gustavus Adolphus College class of 1980, the Rev. Richard Quentin Elvee, GAC chaplain at the time, recounted a hurried graduation week encounter with another member of the college staff.  “Only Thursday, on my way to the Barn, after declining to come with me, Hamrum shouted after me, ‘Padre, tell them that they were good’!” *

Undoubtedly, it could be said of the student body of each and every one of our Seminary’s 180 years, “You were good!”  For so indeed they all have been.  Each year has been marked by many days full of grace and goodness.  Amidst the inevitable tensions and conflicts, challenges and difficulties that arise within any Christian community, every year there are the healers and helpers, those whose calm steady presence encourages others when times are tough, when the waters rage turbulent.  As we once again welcomed so many alumni back home to campus for our Spring Convocation and Alumni Banquet, I caught glimpses into just how good were their classes, even those who sojourned here in the turbulent times of the 1960’s and 70’s. 

But this year, you were really, really good!  In classroom, coffee shop and quiet one-on-one conversations that occur on a daily basis, you listened and learned from our faculty, but also from one another, and most of all, from God.  There seemed to be a special measure of fellowship in some quarters, extended to others last fall in the touch (well, by the end more mud-wrestling!) Lutherbowl tourney.  It continued throughout, manifested again at year’s end in another Crump-crowned croquet contest. 

When faced with disappointment at the announcement that the campus pastor position will be suspended at least for a while as Pastor Kathy Vitalis Hoffman concludes her marvelous tenure, student leaders went to work with the dean and others to find new ways of providing pastoral care and mission-mentoring.  In the aftermath of last summer’s multiple retirements coupled with painful “downsizing” and increased workloads for continuing staff and those newly hired, everybody pitched in and kept us marching full swing in our mission.

Theologically, of course, we acknowledge that all goodness comes from God.  Properly humble, we are appropriately reticent to claim too much credit for our feeble efforts to foster community, encourage one another spiritually, lead vigorously and at times even courageously.  But, dear friends of this great and growing Gettysburg Seminary community, remember those times when Jesus said to one or another of his followers, “Good job!  You got it right this time!  Not perfect, but good enough to offer up to God.”

So in this final P.O. entry of the 180th academic year, allow me as your president to offer this benediction on the LTSG community of 2006-07: You were good.  You were really, really good!  Thanks, and have a great summer.

* Richard Quentin Elvee, Kingdom of Identity, Gustavus Adolphus College 1987, p. 125