We've reached our official "census" date for this new academic term and God has provided 2,712 students for us to serve in Fall 2016. That's down slightly from last year at this time but significantly more than the handful of students who gathered for LETU's first academic term 70 years ago in Fall 1946.
Our alumni now stretch all across the earth: it's literally true to say the sun never sets on the LeTourneau Nation! Our university's impact into workplaces and nations has grown significantly since our founding. Praise the Lord for what He done, is doing, and for what He will do in the next 70 years.
1,236 of our Fall 2016 students are enrolled in the residential campus program and 856 are living on campus. The spiritual growth of these students through our Chapel is a long-standing element of the LETU experience. Today was the first meeting of our Chaplain Search committee, formed to conduct a national search to fill the vacancy created when Dr. Harold Carl left us this summer after 14 years of noteworthy service. Harold and Gwen are now living close to their son near Kansas City and have assumed the most fun role of life: being grandparents!
Dr. Kristy Morgan, our Dean of Students, will chair the search committee. I'm grateful for the students, faculty and staff who are willing to serve on the committee. Our goal is to identify top candidates, bring them to campus for interviews, and have a new chaplain in place for the Spring 2017 academic term. I'm so grateful to our missionary in residence Marv Smith and others who are administering our chapel programs in the interim. It's been a thought-provoking Spiritual Emphasis Week with distinguished visitors guiding our students in asking the hard questions of our faith.
Please join me in praying for an approachable leader who will lead and facilitate the spiritual formation of our students. Because that is the core task of this position, we will update the position title to "Campus Pastor" in place of the current "Chaplain." Our students need a shepherd; someone to lead them and feed them as they develop intellectually and spiritually during their LETU years.
The Campus Pastor will continue to manage our chapel program including worship, our growing small group "Life Group" opportunities, and ministry with LeTourneau Student Ministries (LSM) through our great tradition of spring break mission trips.
Join me in asking God to bring someone who understands the unique context of spiritual formation in the life of a college student and someone equipped to pastor students who come from a growing diversity of faith backgrounds and cultures. The Christian virtues are best taught and transferred in community, and so let's pray for a Campus Pastor who understands the process of spiritual formation in community.
Even as we seek a Campus Pastor, let's also affirm that the spiritual formation of our students is the responsibility of all of us -- it's not just something that happens in Chapel. On this 70th anniversary of LETU, let's recommit to our own spiritual development and the discipleship of all those in our community.