Advent is a time for reflection and joy. During this season that formally begins the Christian year, we give thanks that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. In this spirit, I want to express my gratefulness for God’s goodness to the InterVarsity community over so many years.
1. Our Mission
I thank the Lord for those who have served before us and charted our path. These include former staff like Walt Liefeld who itinerated from campus to campus by bus six decades ago. In sacrificial obedience, they established a broad mission that rejected a more narrow, insular and “protect-the-saints” variety of Christianity. Rather, they embraced — and we have inherited — a wide vision, a grace-filled ethos and a deep passion for the lost.
2. Our Staff
Many of our current staff have served faithfully on campus for several decades. As examples, I think of Denny Brogan at Hillsdale College (Michigan) and Bill Cutler at Bates College (Maine). Others, like Ashley June Smith at Washington University (Missouri) are blazing new trails in planting chapters and bringing the Good News to campus.
I am also thankful for our staff at InterVarsity Press (IVP) and the National Service Center (NSC). Every February, we honor those who have served the Fellowship for 25 years. This year, half of our honorees will be from IVP. Their strong sense of community — even in economic hard times — is exemplary. Likewise, I prize those who day-in-day-out labor sacrificially at the NSC providing essential services such as accounting, planned giving, human resources, graphics and information systems.
3. Our Supporters
I count it as one of my great privileges to engage with InterVarsity donors. They inspire and humble me. An East coast supporter gives away 90% of his income. Another, from the Southeast, caps his company’s earnings, lives modestly and gives away the rest — millions of dollars each year. I am also thankful for our more modest donors who form the backbone of our giving. They are the main reason why campus giving was up both last year and so far this year.
4. Our Volunteers
We are also blessed to have so many volunteers who give of themselves with no recompense. I think of Bob Schwab, a retired Caterpillar executive, who serves as an interim National Field Director. I also think of Mildred Clark, a retired physician, who staffed our chapter at New York City’s Brooklyn College for seven years. These folk are my heroes. We are also in debt to our 18 trustees, all of whom are volunteers.
5. Our Camps
In late October, our board met at bucolic Bear Trap Ranch in Colorado. What a delight. The scenery was breathtaking and the care given exemplary. All four of our camp directors served as volunteers before breaking out into their own meetings. Since three are relatively new on staff, it was a wonderful opportunity for the trustees to interact with them.
We have much to be thankful for. May your Advent season be alive with the Spirit of God. And, see you at Urbana!