After 175 days since Beeson Divinity School’s last chapel service, the school held its first community worship of the fall 2020 semester on Aug. 25. This fall’s Opening Convocation was likely one of the most anticipated and unusual convocations of the school’s 33-year history due to COVID-19.
“Yes, I have been counting (these days),” began Beeson’s Dean Douglas Sweeney in his Opening Convocation address. “I have been longing to be with you.”
More than 200 people participated in the service both in person and virtually. Only 50 Beeson faculty, staff and students were allowed in Hodges Chapel for Opening Convocation, due to new coronavirus regulations, with masks and social distancing being enforced. Two overflow rooms were available for faculty, staff, and students with the service livestreamed. Since guests are not allowed on campus this fall, they were invited to attend virtually at beesondivinity.com/live and YouTube.com/BeesonDivinity.
Sweeney’s convocation address came from Matthew 28:1-10, 16-20 entitled, “Beeson’s Expansive and Expectant Obedience to Jesus’ Great Commission.”
Describing the fear of the women at Jesus’ tomb, the apostles who were hiding, and even the Roman guards at the tomb, Sweeney asked, “Can you remember a time in your life when your own faith was weak, or when you faced daunting circumstances out of your control that eroded your hope in the gospel?”
“I bet if many of us were honest we’d admit that we had such an experience just this spring, when George Floyd’s killing put us in mind of the awful deaths of so many other people of color over the years and deepened the despair many felt already, some of which had to do with COVID-19,” he said.
But the difference for us, continued Sweeney, is “we serve a resurrected Savior. And that Savior has commanded us to share our faith with others and make disciples of the nations—both at home and abroad—enrolling them in the school of the long-awaited Messiah.”
Referring to Jesus’ mandate in Matthew 28, Sweeney urged the Beeson community to recommit to the Great Commission, saying “I want Beeson to be known for its missionary fervor and global Christian mindedness.”
“As we live into the Lord’s will for us as global Christians—in the classroom, our practica, the Global Center, chapel, and our local church ministries—we will grow up into Christ with the rest of his body, participating in gospel work at home and abroad, and advancing the mission of God in the world,” he said.