The Crowne Centre bustled with excited chatter. New and returning students found their seats with family and friends as the Opening Convocation meeting was about to begin. After sharing a joyful song of praise together, Dr. Troy Shoemaker, president of Pensacola Christian College, addressed the audience. “This is our 49th year here at PCC, and it’s been our tradition in each of those years and each semester to begin with meetings like this,” he said. “What you get here at PCC is quite distinctly different from other college settings. And unlike many colleges, we begin each semester with opening convocations—a gathering of the entire student community. We’re purposefully gathering around God’s Word so that we can give first place to biblical truth; to provide you an opportunity to take the next spiritual step in your Christian walk.”
Here for the New School Year
This past weekend, students from all 50 states and about 50 countries and territories made their way to Pensacola, Florida, for the start of the 2022–2023 school year. While returning students checked in at their residence hall, new students made their way to the Academic Center. Colorful signs greeted each family and new student as they entered: “Selemat datang, bienvenido, welcome to PCC!” And beside them, yellow-clad student volunteers—Welcome Weekend staff—stood ready to make any student’s experience easier. “Do you need any help? Let me show you where to check in!” Each new student beginning their PCC journey follows thousands of alumni to a place where God shaped their lives.
Summer may be over, but something exciting is just beginning!
After moving into residence hall rooms and meeting roommates, students made their way across campus to reconnect with friends in the Commons and collect supplies from the Textbook Sale. Some even took a moment to check out the new PCC mural by the tennis courts.
“I love that it’s a Christian environment, so you don’t have to worry about wavering in your faith.”
Hannah Eversole (IN), an incoming freshman who will be studying marketing, appreciated how easy it was to get settled on campus. “It’s been really nice. I think everybody here is very welcoming, and it’s like a well-oiled machine as far as people greeting you and making sure you know where you’re going and where to get your stuff,” she shared. Hannah had visited campus during Explore PCC, where she checked out classes, talked with faculty, and met students. “I’m looking forward to going to Fine Arts and also speech class.”
Dylan Rivera (Fr., Puerto Rico) knew he wanted to attend PCC after visiting campus during College Days. As someone who’s always loved cars, he enrolled in the engineering, mechanical concentration. “When I came here, I fell in love with the college,” he said. “I love the structure, the way the teachers—just like the students—were so nice and so welcoming. I love that it’s a Christian environment, so you don’t have to worry about wavering in your faith. I just feel like it’s a very comfortable place to finish setting up my foundation for the real world on the Bible and my faith. I feel like, in that sense, it’s a really great college.”
Pastoral ministries junior Ben Bateman (ME) has a few personal goals for the upcoming year. “Number one is academics—I’ve already been more organized than I have been before—and to keep growing spiritually and being the man God wants me to be for ministry,” he shared. “I’m also wanting to reconnect with people in my own class and get more involved with my collegian. I have some really good friends that are now [collegian] officers, and that has been an encouragement to me.”
Prepared to Teach
Over the last several weeks, faculty have been updating class syllabi, preparing PowerPoint presentations, and readying themselves to teach the next generation of college students. They have eagerly anticipated the new teaching opportunities over the next school year. “I love the first-day classroom buzz, the energy and excitement in the hallways. It never gets old,” shared Dr. Lauri Lou Borges, who is English and liberal arts faculty. “I love how bonded a class can be by [midsemester]. They know each other’s names, their majors, and each other’s favorite colors. And by the time finals roll around, they know who to text for a supper meetup.”
“I love how bonded a class can be by [midsemester]. They know each other’s names, their majors, and each other’s favorite colors.”
Apart from teaching, faculty members also take time to pray for and encourage their students throughout the year. “Enjoy everything PCC has to offer while never losing focus that you are here to train for God’s service,” advised Dr. Doug Zila, a humanities faculty member. “Do your devotions, get organized, get enough sleep, eat right, don’t forget to regularly call your mom and dad, and never be afraid to seek out help if you need it.”
Receiving Spiritual Encouragement
Sunday night, students and their families made their way to the Crowne Centre for Opening Convocation. This service, which was livestreamed, brings everyone together to be refreshed from God’s Word before the semester begins. “Whether you’re an incoming freshman excited about the adventure of starting a college career or a senior eager to graduate over the next 15 weeks, we’ll spend some great time together, walking the halls, taking classes, making new friends, ultimately preparing for what God’s called us to do,” said Dr. Shoemaker.
While introducing the PCC leaders seated on stage, Dr. Shoemaker gladly announced their newest member—Dr. Greg Mutsch as Vice President for Institutional Advancement. “He’s a new face for many of you here on campus, but he’s actually a longtime friend and has previously been a part of this PCC leadership team. We are thrilled that God’s called him back,” said Dr. Shoemaker. “He’ll oversee key departments related to the campus experience, mentoring, and development including PCC Care, Student Activities, and Guest Services. You’ll come to love Dr. Mutsch and all he does for our experience here on campus.”
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”—Matthew 22:37
In his Opening Convocation message, Pastor Ray McCormick (’97) of New Life Baptist Church (AZ) drew audience members to Matthew 22 and other related passages about what it means to love God. “You cannot love God and mammon, the Bible says. Matter of fact, you will cleave to one and the other one will be lesser. That is what the Bible is helping us to understand concerning this idea of love,” Pastor McCormick preached. “And when God says, ‘Love me with all your heart, your soul, and your mind,’ it simply means this: what is lesser?”
With a reminder of what it means to love God and lean on Him in all things, these students are ready to face the upcoming semester. Classes began August 30, and the next few weeks will include meeting classmates, speaking with Christian Service leaders, and choosing a collegian.
Welcome to PCC, new and returning students! We’re glad that you’re pursuing the next step in your lives and pray that God guides and directs you through the year.