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Trinity Celebrates the Inauguration of David S. Dockery

newsroomadminOctober 27, 2014

Trinity International University celebrated the inauguration of David S. Dockery as its 15th president with a series of events Oct. 20-24 that focused on “Heritage and Hope.”

Drawing on that theme, Dockery’s inauguration address Oct. 23 examined the origins of Trinity, its faithful history and future opportunities. After tracing the history of the institution since the founding in 1897 as the Swedish Bible Institute, he noted that Trinity now has students, alumni, faculty and staff with ties to 70 nations.

“A small school with Scandinavian roots now evidences global outreach,” Dockery said.

Building on that heritage, Dockery said Trinity has a strategic opportunity to help lead the way in multifaceted outreach for the larger evangelical world. He encouraged his new colleagues to model virtues in the tradition of Kenneth Kantzer and Carl F. H. Henry, two stellar Trinity leaders in the latter half of the 20th century.

“We do not seek to relive that period of time, but to learn from it, and build upon it,” Dockery said.

As Dockery presented a vision for Trinity’s future, he observed that a commitment to Trinity’s confessional framework would be needed to guide the journey.

“A renewed appreciation for unity on the Trinity campus, within the evangelical community, and across the Christian movement would not only strengthen our commitment to Trinity’s distinctive mission, but would help provide the context that would encourage a fresh commitment to biblical orthodoxy, a historical Christianity shaped by the pattern of Christian truth, a faithful intercultural, multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and transcontinental evangelicalism that stands or falls on first-order issues,” Dockery said.

Dockery invited Trinity faculty, staff, students, administrators, and Board members to give of themselves with a new and willing enthusiasm to the conviction that all knowledge, all truth, and all wisdom find their truth in God, as well as to the distinctive confessional commitments, mission, core values, and sense of community that represents the best of the Trinity heritage.

His inaugural address concluded with an appeal to the broader Trinity community.

“Join us on this hopeful and hope-filled journey to Trinity’s future,” Dockery said. “We celebrate this new chapter in the life of the Trinity community by giving thanks together for the wonderful heritage that is ours. Please join with us, learn with us, pray with us, and walk with us in confident hope as we serve together in this place for the good of the Trinity community and ultimately for the glory of God.”

Former presidents H. Wilbert Norton, Ken Meyer and Greg Waybright participated in key aspects of the installation of the new president. Norton, who is 99-years-old, was president from 1957-64. The new Norton Welcome Center will be named in his honor.

“The spirit of the Lord is here,” Norton said. “May it convict us!”

Also delivering remarks were several current presidents at other institutions, including Phillip G. Ryken of Wheaton (Ill.) College and Gregory A. Thornbury of The King’s College in New York City.
Thornbury served in the leadership of Union University in Jackson, Tenn., where Dockery was president from 1996-2014. He watched as Dockery led the school to recovery after one of the worst natural disasters in the history of U.S. higher education — a tornado touchdown that did more than $40 million in damage to the campus.

“You are now on Dr. Dockery’s team,” Thornbury said. “And you will see amazing things happen.”
In all, 73 institutions were represented with delegates at the inauguration, and many more colleges and universities sent words of greeting and congratulations. There were 21 inauguration-related events, bringing guest artists and speakers to campus from across the country.

A few highlights of the week:

John M. Perkins, sometimes called the father of racial reconciliation among evangelicals, delivered one of three inaugural chapel messages. Perkins spoke from Psalms 23 and asked his listeners to answer a call to be agents of reconciliation in a lost and hurting world. “Justice is a stewardship issue,” Perkins said. “It’s how we steward God’s creation and our call is to deliberately not overlook the poor.”

During a “Prayer, Praise and Renewal” worship service, Fellowship Memphis Lead Pastor Bryan Loritts preached from Psalms 63 and described the mood of David following the king’s removal from the throne. “David said to God ‘nothing in this life satisfies but you, and my identity is to earnestly seek after you,’” Loritts said. “Will all who serve and study at Trinity reach that same conclusion David reaches?” Travis Cottrell, worship pastor at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., led congregational hymn singing and also performed several solo selections.

Timothy George, founding dean of Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, presented an inaugural chapel message from I Corinthians 13, asking his audience to think clearly about faith, hope and love from a biblical perspective. “Faith, hope and love come like a bridge over troubled waters, predicated on divine grace,” George said. “Pass it on unvarnished.”

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, moderated a panel discussion on a variety of topics, ranging from the future of evangelicalism to cultural engagement. His panel included Trinity faculty members such as Don Carson, Peter Cha and Paige Cunningham, as well as Pastor Tom Nelson, Loritts and George.

Cherie Harder, president of The Trinity Forum in Washington, D.C., delivered an inaugural chapel address focused on recapturing a sense of calling within the workplace. Her historical example was William Wilberforce, a British statesman who used his talents and relationships to slowly erode the foundations of slavery. She challenged Christians to move forward with the same resolve in modern times. “The more we invest in a Christ-centered community, the more we become the people God calls us to be,” Harder said.

Hymn composers and musical performers Keith and Kristyn Getty concluded their fall tour with a free concert to mark the start of inauguration week at Trinity. The couple and their band performed for two hours and hosted a separate Christian Music Symposium earlier in the day.

Trinity also dedicated two new renovations during the week.

The John and Susan Woodbridge Reading Room in the Rolfing Library features more than 200 books written by Trinity faculty members. It is named in honor of John Woodbridge, who has been a faculty member in the divinity school for 44 years.

There was also a dedication of the Henry Van Dixhorn Arena, which provides upgrades to facilities for athletics and large convocations in the Meyer Sports Complex.

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