The first word of Wingate University’s motto – Faith, Knowledge, Service – will also be the topic of one of the first gatherings of the Class of 2023. The fall semester’s Opening Convocation is set for 5 p.m. Sunday and will feature a message from Dr. Paul Baxley, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Ordained in 1993, Baxley was Wingate’s campus minister from 1999 to 2002, during which he served a yearlong stint as interim pastor of Wingate Baptist. A charter member of the University’s Faith Development Council, Baxley has remained involved at Wingate even as his career has taken him to Georgia. (The CBF, an 1,800-church network, is headquartered in Decatur.)
The day before classes begin, Baxley is expected to challenge the convocation crowd – 1,000-plus incoming students packed into Cuddy Arena alongside faculty and staff – to reclaim thinking, teaching and learning as holy acts necessary for mature faith.
“Christian hospitality will be at the heart of the worship service, where all are welcomed to grow and celebrate their faith together, cooperatively, in diversity, in community,” said Vint Tilson, the University’s vice president for strategic partnerships.
“Often, first-time students arrive on campus with a faith that is ‘borrowed’ from those who love and care for them the most. We hope this ‘borrowed’ faith is authenticated over the years at Wingate to become a more personal, contextual faith, one that makes students more aware of the worth of ecumenical and interfaith experiences.”
Convocation, during which faculty members will process in wearing their full academic regalia, is considered a bookend to spring’s Baccalaureate, which the University holds each year on the eve of Commencement.
In addition to Dr. Baxley’s message, Sunday’s service will include words of welcome and recognition of emeritus faculty by Joe Patterson, chairman of the Board of Trustees; an invocation by Dane Jordan, minister to students; and a welcome from President Rhett Brown. Students Rania Badran, Tatianna Onley and José Ocampo will have roles in the service as will the University Singers led by Kenney Potter, chair of the Music Department. Antonio Jefferson, director of Lyceum, will remind students of upcoming faith Lyceum events and Marilyn Hartness, retired art professor, will offer the benediction.
Aug. 15, 2019