A new format accomplished a traditional goal as Fresno Pacific University welcomed the start of the 2020-2021 academic year with a virtual Convocation.

Rather than gathering with pomp, circumstance and music in the Special Events Center on the main campus, the October 7 ceremony was broadcast live from the BC Lounge. Still, the three speakers wore their academic regalia and spoke from behind a podium decorated with the FPU seal. In addition, President Joseph Jones, Ph.D., in his main address; Gayle Copeland, Ph.D., provost/senior vice president for academic affairs, in her introduction; and Valerie Rempel, Ph.D., vice president and dean of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, in her closing prayer and benediction, all kept the focus of the day where it has always been: squarely on students.

“We come together at a time that is seemingly filled with uncertainty, anxiety, frustration and tension.  But, know this, you have been prayed for and we are grateful that you are now part of this community even in such a time as this,” Copeland said.

“We welcome you into a community of conversation about questions, problems and opportunities for the world in our time—a place where one can have genuine conversation,” she continued. “We are still committed to personal interactions even as we engage virtually. We are committed to your growth.”

“Sacred Ambition”

We start this new year with challenges that impact us all, but that we experience in different ways, Jones said. “Some of us look to the future with a certain amount of optimism. Others are reluctant to trust anything anyone says. And there are those of us who cannot see beyond the troubles that our eyes and ears are plagued with daily.”

As part of its 75th anniversary celebration in 2019-2020, FPU developed a “sacred ambition” to grow strategically, engage more collectively and become more innovative. Administrators, faculty and staff were called to act with courage, “so that not only the lives of our students would be transformed, but that we as a community would be transformed through serving them,” he said.

Ambition can be an overwhelming force that moves people beyond the practical to what others cannot envision. “But if we are not careful it lures us into a self-centered existence, whether for the individual or the organization,” Jones said.

A sacred ambition, however, is not born out of self-esteem or our need for other’s praise, but of the God seed planted in each man and woman. Jesus tells parables about a farmer who sows seeds, about a hidden treasure and a great pearl. Together these stories illustrate that faith and sacrifice lead to the gaining of something of great value.

“During these challenging days, let it be said of us individually and we as a community of educators, that our sacred ambition in the midst of great discouragement is to be where the Lord is, to seek him wholly and to do a work that will bring honor to the name of Jesus Christ,” Jones concluded. “This is our gift, the treasure of our life. A life committed not to serving ourselves, but to serving God and others through the tremendous opportunities and possibilities at Fresno Pacific University in Christian higher education.”

To see and hear the entire ceremony, click “On Demand” at fpu.edu/live


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations