The Baylor Concert Choir and Baylor Bella Voce performed their fall concert, “Our Hope,” on Tuesday, October 25 in the Jones Concert Hall. Dr. Lynne Gackle, director of choral activities at the Baylor School of Music, was inspired to center the theme of the fall concert on hope, explaining in the concert program: “Hope is abiding and is found in the darkest moments as well as in the most joyous of life’s experiences. This is the Hope that allows us to ‘grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ’ (Ephesians 3:18–19). Through their performance of hope-filled works like His Eye Is On the Sparrow composed by Charles H. Gabriel, and Kim André Arnesen’s Even When He Is Silent, the choirs aimed to represent “music of praise, of remembrance, of reflection and of faith – all stemming from this Hope. It is our desire that the words, illuminated by the music, will lift your heart and stand as reminders of our Hope and most of all of His Love for us.”
The text of Arnesen’s piece, which was found written on the wall of a concentration camp after World War II, is particularly poignant as we remember our hope:
I believe in the sun even when it is not shining, I believe in love even when I feel it not. I believe in God even when He is silent.
Truett graduate Jeremy Courtney (MDiv ’04) was recently named Baylor University’s Young Alumnus of the year. Courtney cofounded Preemptive Love Coalition, a global coalition of peacemakers changing the way we engage the world’s most polarizing conflicts by confronting fear with acts of love. PLC performs emergency relief for families victimized by ISIS, lifesaving heart surgeries for children, peacemaking in conflict-zones, empowering grants for small business owners, education for at-risk children, and provides counsel to policymakers in D.C., London, Baghdad and beyond.
Courtney explains, “Food delivery and job creation is never just about that; it’s always pursuing a greater flourishing for the people involved. It’s a pursuit of peace in its fullest sense; not the absence of conflict, but the full-fledged embrace of someone of a different faith.”
Supported by a Missions Research grant from Baylor Missions, students and faculty from the organization Engineers with a Mission travelled to Laredo, Texas in July 2016 to drill a water well. Despite being only 15 miles outside of Laredo, the people that live in the Las Lomas colonia do not have running water in their homes. Instead, the city trucks out water to a filling station where people wait in line to fill private tanks. Seven students and two faculty members spent ten days in the heat drilling a shallow water well to support the water needs of this community. They were warmly welcomed by the local community, which prepared home cooked lunches for them every day and sent volunteers to work alongside them. Students learned the basics of drilling and casing a well, solved technical problems as they arose, and formed a genuine connection with the community. They plan to return next year, albeit at a cooler time of the year: spring break.
Baylor signed its first ever exchange program with an HBCU on Thursday, October 20th. The partnership is with Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. There is great excitement about the program at Baylor and Xavier. The program will launch in Spring 2017, and four Baylor students have already applied for the opportunity to spend next spring at Xavier. For more information about the partnership, click on this link: http://www.baylor.edu/diversity/index.php?id=934570.
In the midst of the challenges we are facing at Baylor, it is important for us to remember “the hope to which we have been called” (Eph. 1:18). In a reflection this past summer for Baylor Magazine (www.baylor.edu/alumni/magazine/1403/index.php?id=934251), I note that the virtue of hope enables us to face the brokenness of our lives and institutions while remaining rooted in our faith in God and our witness to the goodness of God and life in Christ. Thus, as we remember our hope, it is important to share stories of how hope abounds…among our faculty and staff and students, in our schools and programs, and in our broader community.
Each week the office of the EVP/Provost will send via e-mail a few stories to help illumine how “Hope Abounds” at and through Baylor. The first e-mail will be shared tomorrow – Thursday, October 27. Each Wednesday thereafter (starting on November 2), we will send an email with new stories of hope. We will also maintain a blog with the collected stories across time, which can be found at baylor.edu/hopeabounds.
Thanks for all you do in service to Baylor and our mission. Your work and leadership, and our life together, are significant signs of our hope.