President preaches, bids farewell at formal opening
Erskine College and Seminary President Dr. Paul Kooistra addressed an assembly of students, faculty, staff, and community members Sept. 1 in the Due West ARP Church during a formal opening convocation marking the 178th year of the college and the 180th year of the seminary.
The president, who has announced his intention to retire by Oct. 31, prefaced his formal opening speech with “a hello and a goodbye,” saying he and his wife Sandi have prayed about the decision and believe they are following God’s will.
He stressed his love for Erskine students and praised the Erskine faculty and staff. He and his wife are praying that Erskine will “find the right president, the right support, and the right unity,” he said.
Kooistra’s convocation address, “All Truth is God’s Truth,” was based on Psalm 19, in which David begins by asserting that “the heavens declare the glory of God.”
“If you approach life with the idea that everything belongs to God, including you, it will make all the difference,” he told the students.
“You were made by God to glorify him and to study…so you can make a difference in the world God has created.”
Kooistra emphasized that the idea of absolute truth only makes sense if you start with God. “When you find truth, it belongs to God,” he said, noting that this applies to a range of studies and activities.
The president spoke about seeing God in nature, in friends who are made in God’s image, and especially in scripture, which provides our foundation and direction. Alluding to God’s saving work in Christ, which is proclaimed in scripture, he said, “God wants to change you, so that you become a lover of God instead of a lover of self.”
The Rev. Paul G. Patrick, chaplain of Erskine College and Theological Seminary, gave the invocation and benediction and offered a prayer for the college and seminary. Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Brad Christie welcomed those in attendance, recognizing students, faculty, and staff members new to the Erskine campus.
Musicians for the service were the Erskine Choraleers, directed by Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Keith D. Timms, and Professor of Music Dr. J. Brooks Kuykendall, organist.