Bethany College ushered in the new year with Opening Convocation on Aug. 23 in Presser Hall. President Edward F. Leonard III welcomed the Class of 2017 to Bethany and described its worldview with Beloit College’s Mindset List.
Alumna from the Class of 2004 Emma Crossen, M.Div., spoke about her path throughout Bethany and where it carried her beyond graduation. Crossen is the director for stewardship and development at Women of the ELCA in Chicago. She graduated from Bethany in history and political science and from Harvard Divinity School in 2010 with a Master of Divinity.
Her message, “Light on the Path,” was inspired by the scripture “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path,” which she had had heard a Christian thinker talking to college students about.
Crossen said these words gave her solace when the uncertain future became too much, but she now sees the path differently today. “The more I experience God and God’s creation, the more I am convinced that there is no specific path set for me, no road to stay on,” she explains.
Now instead of path, she envisions a garden. “I am convinced that God is less concerned with where we go and more concerned with how we act wherever we are…in the garden, the light does not serve to keep us on a path, but to call us more deeply into the work of tending the spot where we are and seeing the many options for where we can go next.”
Crossen offered her advice for how current students can let Bethany’s light shine onto their own paths.
- “Take classes that don’t interest you at all…They are windows to be opened, letting in more light to help you see the world—your path—in new ways.”
- “Engage with ideas in and out of the classroom, to look forward to those moments when you think you’re failing, but are invited, instead, to become a better student.”
- “As a student at Bethany, you have the chance to also be a student of Lindsborg. This is a community of people who specialize in building meaningful, productive lives and bearing fruit wherever they are planted… I hope their stories will shine light on the path and help you trust the rich and varied possibilities for your own life.”
Crossen also encouraged students to shed their own lights on Bethany and accept Bethany’s light to call them into their places in the world. “I hope, 9 years after you graduate, you can return to campus and think, ‘I can’t imagine my life without Bethany College.’”
Before singing the alma mater, Leonard issued the audience the charge, “Go Swedes. Do not lack in zeal. Be ardent in spirit. Serve the Lord. Thanks be to God!”