Written by Tyler Lee
Isaiah 43:1-3 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”
Even in the fiercest storms, God is consistently faithful. We may not always understand what He is doing, but He is always at work, in times of both light and darkness. In the thick, looming fogs of life, He may not always be visible, but He remains present in every last blade of grass swaying in the wind, every last creature lurking in the depths of the ocean, every last human being breathing the air of this world.
For the last century, Montreat College has been a testament to God’s faithfulness. No matter what phase of life this college has been in, the Lord has provided and made the college’s path straight. The road is straight and narrow, but God has proven true and allowed this beautiful cove to continue to walk in His righteous light for an entire century.
Montreat College is celebrating its centennial year, which means this is the 100th academic year of the college’s Christ-centered, liberal arts education. Things have dramatically changed since the college first welcomed students through its gate, both in the world of education and in the world of Montreat College, but one thing remains the same: Jesus Christ remains its Cornerstone.
Even as Montreat is entering a new, exciting era, Montreat’s deep, rich heritage remains something worth celebrating. Without the mistakes, struggles, and triumphs of the past, the present would be nonexistent. It can all be dated back to 1907, when J.R. Howerton purchased what would become the town of Montreat for the Presbyterian Church. In 1916, the Montreat Normal School—as it was then called—held its first session in this shaded valley. 1945 marked the college’s change to a four-year college for women, eventually changing its name to Montreat-Anderson (at that point a co-ed junior college) in 1959. Years later, in 1995, the name was changed back to Montreat College, reflecting the school that exists to this day.
People often underestimate the importance of history, but in order to make progress, we must learn from choices and mistakes made in the past. Little pieces of our ancestors’ morality are continually revealed in every last one of us; therefore, change must begin by acknowledging the past. For Montreat College, history is learning from what our predecessors faced in the past and moving ever-forward in Truth.
There are few schools in this day and age that offer the kind of Christ-centered education that Montreat does. In fact, as measure by membership in the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, Montreat College is the last remaining Christian college in the state of North Carolina. Our kind of education was once the norm, but now secular institutions have besieged the landscape of American education, replacing Christ-grounded education for a focus on intellect alone. There is nothing wrong with intellect, but intellect is nothing without the Creator and instiller of all knowledge, wisdom, and intellect. Without Christ at the center, education loses its meaning. However, in Christ, students, educators, and Montreat College as a whole has meaning, and because of this, Montreat College continues to commission students to be agents of renewal and transformation in the world.
There is a new dawn breaking for Montreat College. Aside from the beginning of the college’s second century, Montreat has reached record enrollment. Montreat now offers four new majors: Exercise Science, Elementary Education, Music, and Theatre. Over the summer, Montreat started construction on five new projects, including a new fitness center, athletic complex, and black box theatre. All this is wonderful news, but what does this mean for the college’s next century? Fyodor Dostoevsky once stated in The Brothers Karamazov, “The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” The reason Montreat College continues to exist and thrive as an institution is because it has something to live for. It is not simply trying to exist; it is trying to flourish.
In the 1960s, the beloved coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi, used to hold up a football before games and state to his players a simple truth, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” His goal was to center his athletes on the reason they were on the field in the first place. Like Lombardi’s players before a big game, Montreat College must never forget its identity in the years ahead. For 100 years, Montreat has followed its God-given destiny, and in the century to come, it will continue to follow wherever God may lead.
As President Maurer stated in this year’s opening convocation, holding up a football for emphasis, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a college.”