By Rev. Andrew K. Putnam, Moderator
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
So often, the moderator’s address is directed at the larger world around Erskine, or to the faculty and administration of the institution. We are of- ten talking about the students. Today, I want to talk to the students.
I want to take the few minutes we have together to explain why Erskine is important to me and what the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church wants here at Erskine – what we are striving for.
There are over 27,000 active members in the ARP denomination. I won’t pretend to speak for all of them, but I think I can give you an idea of what we want in general.
I stand before you today wearing many hats – each reflects why Erskine College is important to me.
As an alumnus: I graduated from the Seminary in 1991. I lived here 3 and 1/2 years, and worked as a police officer. I’m the one that chased horses through town in a patrol car at 2 a.m. – lights flashing and all! I understand the nature of college life in Due West, especially after midnight!
As a parent: My daughter Katie is a sophomore here. I’m concerned that she gets a good accredited degree from this institution that serves her well in her graduate pursuits. If she does well in class, or on campus, it’s because of my influence. If she messes up, it’s her own fault!
As a trustee: I’m on the board that oversees the president, the administration, the policies of the institution. If Dr. Norman does well, it’s because of our influence. If he messes up, it’s his own fault!
As Moderator of the ARP Church:
I’m the figure head for an old, small Presbyterian denomination. Erskine is the college of the Associ- ate Reformed Presbyterian Church. We’ve had a long relationship together and have supported the institution financially, socially and prayerfully for more than 170 years!
What does the ARP Church want at Erskine?
Let’s start with what we definitely don’t want: we do not want Erskine to become another Bible school. That idea has never been presented in any Synod meeting. It is clearly not the desire of the denomination.
And we also don’t want Erskine to be another regional liberal arts school where you can only find Christ in the Bible department. What we’re going after is something much more difficult to attain – something that requires sacrifice, determination and direction: an authentically Christian liberal arts educational experience.
We want Erskine to be Erskine
Historically observing the Erskine experience over the years, we have been (at times) excited and (at times) disturbed. We’ve overreacted and we’ve failed to act. For this, I’m personally sorry. We want Erskine to be an institution where there is a seamless fusion of the Christian faith and education – a place that nurtures you and yet challenges you – a place where you are not ridiculed for your faith, but instead are encouraged to see it integrated into all aspects of your education.
In our opening scripture, often called “the great commission,” verse 19 says, “Go therefore and make disci- ples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” I call your attention to one word in the verse – “Go.”
As you are going about your life, make disciples. Wherever you go, model Jesus Christ.
There are some really great things going on at Erskine. I want to thank the faculty, who struggle to make this institution great; the administration, who make every effort to keep a focused vision; and the support of alumni and donors.
When we get this right, imagine the impact we’ll have on this world.
When you leave Erskine to pursue your chosen fields, it is my hope you will not only have the education to excel, but the faith to reach your full potential in Christ.
If Erskine is allowed to be Erskine; as you go, you will be empowered and prepared for all you face, as you take the name of our Lord Jesus Christ with you.