On January 9, 2013, Dr. Dan Struble gave his farewell address at Opening Convocation. It was nine years ago exactly that he was selected Montreat College’s seventh president. The college community rose to give Dr. Struble a standing ovation at the close of his speech — a historic moment for Montreat College.
Dr. Dan Strubles gives final Opening Convocation address.
The author of Ecclesiastes, writing over 1000 years ago tells us: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
Some of you may have heard these timeless words first as the lyrics to the 1965 chart topping song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds. I know at least the gray and bald heads among us know the still-catchy tune.
I can’t think about these words without the refrain going through my head. The tune makes me smile, yet the words are haunting. Seasons mean change, and “goodbye” is not an easy thing to say; even “hello” can be nerve-wracking at times. As much as we hate it, life includes many beginnings and endings. Dying, uprooting, tearing down, scattering, breaking up and moving on are very much a part of the world we live in—as are giving birth, planting, building, gathering, getting married, and moving in. Ends are not universally bad (some of you look forward to graduating this year), beginnings are not unfailingly good (remember your first day in braces?), and both make for hard living in their turn. Change just happens, and when it does, we have a choice as to how we deal with it.
By now most of you have heard that my time as president of Montreat College is coming to an end. Nine years ago this week, Montreat selected me to be its seventh President, and since that time I have experienced enormous joys, developed many wonderful relationships, and seen God work miracle after miracle. I have also seen much tragedy and sickness, financial and emotional struggle. There are many red-letter moments, but when I think back over my time here, these are not what come first to mind. A thousand little things, ordinary moments, have become precious to me in retrospect. Adam Ripley impersonating Lloyd Davis, joining students sledding down Appalachian Way, grilling steaks with the guys on the decks of Howerton and Davis, telling love stories in McGregor lobby—these are the fabric of Montreat to me. There were also countless small victories in our work together, too quickly eclipsed by the next task. Though they were passed over at the time, I celebrate now (and I hope you will celebrate with me) the little things that make this place what it is, and keep it rolling hour by hour. This is an unforgettable place, full of students and faculty who have held together through good times and bad, bringing out the best and bearing with the worst in each other day by day.
Now, for better or worse, change is coming to my life and to the college. The way we handle this time of transition will bear witness to our love for one another and the hope we hold in Christ Jesus. I want to tell you a few stories about the Montreat that I have known.