I palmed my phone and tried to stifle a grin as I walked into chapel for my first university convocation as a faculty member. I had promised Ben that I would take a picture, so I tried to be inconspicuous as I snuck a few.
It was a new perspective on this annual ritual, from my view from the fourth row. Surrounded by who are now my peers, I sang and intoned and applauded as we followed the program notes. Prayer. Hymn. Stand. Sit. Listen.
And then, at the very end, we stood and read aloud the Cornerstone Covenant, an affirmation designed to unite us as a community. A room of voices raised to show our commitment to common actions and attitudes. Maturity. Peace. Joy. Wisdom.
There is a reason why we say things out loud. Marriage vows. Child dedication services. The Pledge of Allegiance. Corporate worship. It transforms a private belief into a public proclamation, adding weight to important words by giving them shape and sound. It is why I cried on my wedding day and why I often find myself teary-eyed when I pay attention to the words I sing on Sunday mornings. But on this Wednesday, a document was transformed from words on a screen to a living promise as it was spoken by the students, faculty, and staff. I found myself standing a bit straighter as I read the Faculty Affirmation:
“As faculty we will advance the presence of Christ in our community by honoring those with whom we serve.
We will seek the best for our students by modeling Christ before them, challenging them to excel and treating
them with respect. In our disciplines we will continually grow in knowledge and wisdom, and seek to nurture
those qualities in our students.”
Yes. I affirm.