North Park Kicks Off New Academic Year
CHICAGO (August 28, 2009) – The onset of another academic year has sparked a flurry of activity on the North Park University campus.
The excited commotion began on Tuesday, August 18, when the first cars packed with clothing, books, ironing boards, desk lamps, and incoming students began arriving in University lots for North Park’s annual Threshold orientation week. The six-day event concluded on Sunday, August 23, the day before classes began.
Facilitated by a staff of returning students, the Threshold program divides incoming students into small groups and provides a variety of social activities to help them acclimate to college life.
“It’s important for new students to get connected with the North Park community,” explains program coordinator Laurie Konecky. “Students love getting to know people and having so many opportunities to see the city, and parents love that we provide so many opportunities to help their students connect with others on campus.”
More than 100 students attended a beach bash at North Avenue Beach, and more than 200 participated in a photo scavenger hunt in the city. Additional highlights of the week included a welcome back picnic, a movie night and pizza party, and even a service project.
President David Parkyn greeted students and their parents at an opening convocation on Wednesday afternoon, and gave a subsequent state of the university address to faculty and staff on Thursday, August 20, at the University’s Gathering Day in Anderson Chapel.
Reflecting on the successes of the previous academic year, he underscored the tremendous potential for study and service available to North Park students due to the University’s unique location in the city of Chicago.
“Our University now stands with the global majority, whereas many colleges and universities—including most faith-affirming schools—established in small towns and distant suburbs, are now located within the shrinking minority,” Parkyn said, noting that for the first time in history more than half of the world’s 6.6 billion inhabitants live in cities rather than in rural areas.
“We often remind our students that Chicago is our classroom and all Chicagoans are our teachers,” Parkyn added as he encouraged the North Park community to learn from the myriad cultures and expressions of Christian faith right in the University’s backyard.
Learning from one another in life-giving community was also a theme of Campus Pastor Judy Peterson’s opening chapel sermon on Wednesday, August 24. The focus of her message was the Hebrew understanding of shalom—or peace, wellness, and wholeness.
“Shalom is not possible if those around us are disconnected from each other and disconnected from God,” explained Peterson.
Our well-being as believers is inextricably connected to the well-being of others, she added. Although “many of us understand being followers of Jesus as being individual, personal, and private,” in contrast, God is personal, but not private, and shalom has a plural connotation, even when spoken to an individual.
In the year to come, Peterson challenged students to “declare shalom a possibility, and live in such a way that makes shalom possible.”
View photos from Threshold week.