The spirit on campus during Welcome Weekend was catching. Returning Pensacola Christian College students greeted friends they hadn’t seen all summer with warm smiles, fist bumps, and hugs. Friendly faces welcomed brand-new freshmen and offered ways to assist.
Many upperclassmen volunteering as Welcome Weekend staff (wearing yellow T-shirts that read “We’re Here to Help!”) were ready and available to help new students sort through their arrival checklist. This included checking in, taking their first Student ID photo, moving into the residence hall, finalizing class registration, purchasing and picking up textbooks, and more! Once they were settled in, they could look forward to scheduled meetings like the Student Worker Meeting, the 2027 Connection for freshmen, and Opening Convocation.
Return of the Students
Between semesters, the PCC campus is a little quieter than usual without the whole student body present. But staff members, graduate/seminary students, and weekly summer campers are still around. Summer worker JT Tutton (So., FL) is thrilled that it’s busy again and has already met several new freshmen in his work area. “They bring so much energy to campus,” he said. JT also greatly appreciates the “emphasis on Christ and the godly culture that PCC has worked so hard to build.”
Incoming freshman Maggie Breedlove (FL) is excited to pursue music education at PCC. “It was definitely a hard decision for me deciding where I wanted to go to college, but I prayed about it a lot,” she said. “And the Lord just opened every single door and made it super easy.”
“God has a special plan for each of them, and if they are willing, God can use them to do amazing things for Him.”
Teachers returned a few weeks earlier to prepare for classes and picked up on the excitement of a new semester. Rochelle Achuff, Ed.D., from the education department enjoys the beginning of a new school year “because there is so much energy with all the students and families on campus,” she said. “People are so excited to see each other, and it’s been a blessing to see upperclassmen welcoming the new students and being helpful to the families as they arrive on campus.” Dr. Achuff believes that “God has a special plan for each of them, and if they are willing, God can use them to do amazing things for Him.”
Personal College Goals
Returning students already knew what to expect as they begin a new semester, and some even have specific goals for the year. Mechanical engineering senior Braxton Faulkner (NC) wants to strengthen his walk with Christ. “My biggest goal this semester is to continue the pursuit of godly manliness,” he shared. “As a [student] leader on campus, I desire to reflect the image of Christ in all conversation of life.” As a residence assistant and Campus Church usher, Braxton anticipates getting more involved with the church men through events like the Men’s Prayer Breakfast.
“I really want my students to take full advantage of every class, lesson, teacher, and experience they can during their time with us.”
As Abi Bain (Sr., GA) finishes her last year, she is thankful for the many opportunities the College offers. “PCC [is] so inviting and [has provided] lots of ways to get involved,” she shared. This year, she’s focused on investing in others and has already been enjoying meeting new students.
Chair of the Visual Arts Department Greg Hewitt desires to see how his students will grow this year. “I really want my students to take full advantage of every class, lesson, teacher, and experience they can during their time with us,” he explained. “Our faculty want nothing more than to see our students succeed in life as Christian designers and artists, personally and professionally, and that takes the commitment of not only the teacher, but also the student.”
50th Year with a Spiritual Focus
There’s so much to look forward to as the brand-new semester begins, and last weekend’s activities served as the calm before classes started in full force. For almost 50 years, a highlight beginning a new semester at PCC is a traditional service that sets the spiritual tone of the school year: Opening Convocation. On Sunday night, all students paused to worship together with music that glorifies God and to hear an inspiring message from evangelist Dr. Scott Pauley.
“From that very first year, they wanted the entire college community to gather around God’s Word to be in the right posture before we kick things off.”
From the pulpit, College President Troy Shoemaker addressed the student body, officially marking the start of the 2023−2024 school year. “You’re a part of PCC during an especially exciting time,” he said. “This entire school year will lead up to our golden anniversary. There’ll be special events, Legacy Chapels, Alumni Homecoming, and then at the end of the year, a celebration of five decades as we come to the end of our 50th year.”
The service continued with special videos, one highlighting the College’s landmark year and another of President Emeritus Arlin Horton’s vision for PCC born so many years ago. “It’s been said we stand on the shoulders of giants, because past generations have laid the foundation,” Dr. Shoemaker shared. “It is certainly true here at Pensacola Christian College. We are thankful for our founders, Arlin and Beka Horton. From that very first year, they wanted the entire college community to gather around God’s Word to be in the right posture before we kick things off.” Dr. Horton, who sat on the stage at the very first Opening Convocation 49 years ago—was present again that night and met with an extended standing ovation. His wife, Wilma, who he married in 2021 after Beka’s passing, waved from the loge.
Emotion and excitement filled the room as the evening transitioned to the heart of the service, an applicable sermon from Dr. Pauley. From Genesis 37:1−5 he shared how the hidden parts of Joseph’s life as a seventeen-year-old relate to the student body’s outlook. “College doesn’t last forever,” he reminded the packed Crowne Centre. “God uses all these people to prepare you for what He has for you.”
Returning students, welcome back. And to our new students, we are thrilled to have you join a community committed to your academic and spiritual success. The 2023−2024 school year has officially begun!