OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas delivered the annual Convocation address Aug. 31. The service took place in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium on the OBU campus in Shawnee.
Dr. Rafael Bello, assistant professor of religious studies, led the opening prayer. Dr. Brent Newsom, associate professor of English, chair of the Division of Language and Literature, and chair of faculty council, then offered greetings from the faculty.
Following a scripture reading by Dr. Paul Sanchez, assistant professor of religion, the congregation sang the hymn, “Creation Sings the Father’s Song.” Dr. Louima Lilite, McGavern-Montgomery Professor of Music, led the singing and Claire Marquardt, assistant professor of music, accompanied on piano. Student Government Association President Hannah DeMoss then delivered the call to convocation.
Newsom read the litany, with interactive audience response. Dr. Larinee Dennis, dean of business, health science and education, and Dr. Matthew Emerson, dean of theology, arts and humanities, introduced new faculty. President Thomas introduced new staff members.
Thomas then delivered the Convocation address. His speech was themed, “What Kind of People do We Wish to Be?”
“Is there a better way of living and being in this world than we are currently? I want to say yes,” Thomas said. “I want to say yes, here, this year on Bison Hill. I want to say yes, in our interactions with one another. I would like to offer us a question today, a question for us to consider together. What kind of people do we wish to be?”
“I would like to offer us today briefly a response to this question building from ancient wisdom, touching on three virtues that you saw in your litany this morning. It comes from Micah chapter six, verse eight. We wish to be a people of justice. We wish to be a people of kindness, mercy. And we wish to be a people of humility.”
Thomas then elaborated on these themes in detail, before charging the campus community to action for the coming academic year.
“I charge all of us to speak and embody a different word to the idols of our time and the injustices of our day. Because of the complexity of the globalized economy and the interconnectedness of the global north and global south economically, we must give due to our neighbors, and to do this, it means we attend to the ways in which the majority world lags behind the modern West. The church must attend to the inequity and live a different way as we attend to the poor, and my friends, as we live with one another.”
He encouraged the campus community to seek justice in all situations in their lives.
“Those who have tasted the justice of God displayed in Christ will enact justice in their world,” he said.
Following the convocation address, Dr. Stephen Sims, associate professor of music, and Dr. Patty Nelson, associate professor of music education, led the congregation in “The Hymn to the Alma Mater.” Dr. Alan Noble, associate professor of English, delivered the benediction to conclude the service.