Convocation 2020: Learning to Listen, Learn, Love and Lead

CIU President Dr. Mark Smith gives the Convocation address.
August 28, 2020

“Praise the Lord for such a great start to the semester!” said Professor Dr. Andre Rogers, opening the annual Convocation signaling the 2020-2021 school year at CIU.

In the era of COVID-19, Rogers encouraged students to continue wearing their masks and being diligent about social distancing. Provost Dr. James Lanpher led a welcoming round of applause for new students and faculty before President Dr. Mark Smith set the tone for the academic year.

Smith thanked the new students for choosing CIU, and updated everyone with a short video on recent CIU achievements such as 240 new courses and additional security cameras. After welcoming new faculty and staff to the team, Smith also noted that 20 CIU athletes rededicated their lives to Christ at an Athletics Department worship service a few days prior.

In his address, Smith openly spoke on what it means to be at CIU during a time of racial tension within the nation.

“When we see sin, we denounce it. When we see racism, we denounce it. When we see someone struggle, we come alongside them and help,” Smith said.

Further pointing out, “We are all God’s children,” he said our ultimate purpose in life is the worship of God and preaching of His name throughout the nations, as he noted the CIU motto, “To Know Him and to Make Him Known,” hanging in bold white lettering on either side of him.

Smith also quoted from the book “Petty Pain: Understanding the Assignment of Offense, by CIU alumna Margo Wright Williams, who was in the audience.

“Far too many times I’ve been grieved by the pettiness and pain demonstrated by my coworkers,” Smith read from the book. “We want to listen and learn so we can love and lead well.”  

“CIU, my dream for this year is that you would go deep in your relationship with Christ,” Smith told the students. “Life is about building relationships with each other. To go deep with God, we need to understand that relationships with others matter … Students, let’s love each other.”

Convocation 2020 closed with the tradition of Professor Dr. Bryan Beyer blowing a shofar, reminding everyone of the three ways a shofar is used; as a warning of danger at hand, a battle cry, and a victory call which resounds when the enemy has been conquered. 

Hear the Convocation message on CIU's podcasts.  

Meanwhile, dozens of CIU students quickly took the Convocation message to heart as they participated in a special prayer time the next day, led by CIU Associate Dean of Student Life Travien Capers. With guidance from Galatians 6:2, “bear each other’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ,” Capers offered up prayers under the Convocation themes, especially love. John 13:34-35 was on an overhead screen at the front of Shortess Chapel:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

“The Bible says we’re standard bearers CIU,” Capers said. “For a world that might not know Jesus, it’s our job to show that love. We’re the ones to champion that charge. We’re the ones to preach Christ’s gospel to the masses.” ranks Columbia International University the 2020 Best Online College in South Carolina, and CIU is #2 in the state for Best College Campus. CIU also consistently ranks among the Top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report. Request information on enrollment at CIU and Columbia Biblical Seminary or call (800) 777-2227, ext. 5024.