Year’s Community Theme to Focus on Inclusion of Commuter Students
By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau
As GCU becomes larger, with a record number of on-campus residents, it could be easier than ever for commuter students to feel disenfranchised, coming and going in stealth mode.
But not if Pastor Tim Griffin has anything to say about it. The University’s dean of students is concerned about that segment of the population, and a new theme for the coming year reveals just how much.
“Community: One Spirit, One Purpose” is intended to build on last year’s theme of “Love God, Love People,” shining a light on how commuters, in specific, can be served and engaged in meaningful ways. About 60 percent of GCU’s ground enrollment of 6,500 students won’t live on campu this year, and Griffin says it’s up to the other 40 percent to keep the welcome mat well-scrubbed.
“I want every student to feel that they love this place and that they’re a part of it,” says Griffin, entering his second full year as dean of students and already planning to study commuter students as part of his doctoral work.
“What are we doing to make (commuters) feel connected? I want them to feel that Grand Canyon is part of them.”
A strong connection, Griffin says, will equip commuters to “seed” the metro Phoenix neighborhoods to which they return at the end of the day.
Helping to set the community tone will be weekly Chapel service in GCU Arena, which could draw as many as 2,000 students for the first meeting of the school year at 10:45 a.m. Monday. Speakers for the fall semester have been given a choice of the so-called “one another” passages from the Bible, and students will notice a number of familiar faces delivering the messages.
Chapel theGathering 10:45 a.m. Mondays 8 p.m. Tuesdays Tim Griffin Aug. 27 Danielle Rinnier Aug. 28 Off Sept. 3 Tim Griffin Sept. 4 Brian Mueller Sept. 10 Jacob Page Sept. 11 Jeremy Jernigan Sept. 17 Ryan Maguire Sept. 18 Steve Gerali Sept. 24 Matt Hopkins Sept. 25 Derik Hines Oct. 1 John-Paul Reiger Oct. 2 Josh Riebock Oct. 8 Josh Riebock Oct. 9 Tim Griffin Oct. 15 Sarah Thatcher Oct. 16 Jamie Rasmussen Oct. 22 Joe Brooks Oct. 23 Jim Bull Oct. 29 Danielle Rinnier Oct. 30 Jon Demeter Nov. 5 Jacob Page Nov. 6 Off Nov. 12 Ryan Maguire Nov. 13 Steve Gerali Nov. 19 Matt Hopkins Nov. 20 Don Wilson Nov. 26 Sarah Thatcher Nov. 27 Brian Mueller Dec. 3 Joe Brooks Dec. 4 Tim Griffin Dec. 10 John-Paul Reiger Dec. 11
“We won’t depend so much on outside communicators to stir us up,” says Griffin, who will kick things off on Monday and be followed two weeks later by GCU’s president and chief executive officer, Brian Mueller.
“Our theme verse from Philippians 2 says that in humility you care about others’ needs more than your own. If we can raise the value of that, everyone benefits.”
The Chapel band will expand, pulling from a roster of more than three dozen students over the course of the semester. However, the hourlong service itself won’t change much, Griffin says.
“Part of my philosophy is: What you catch them with, you need to keep them with,” he says. “The basic things of worship, message and venue are the simple pieces of the experience.”
Tuesday night’s theGathering, which Griffin describes as “more of a worship experience than a teaching opportunity,” also will rely more heavily on student and staff contributions than it has in the past.
Always, the trick is to be consistent without becoming complacent, Griffin says.
“Students come and go (over the years), but you want to create a healthy cycle,” he says, “repeating the right things in fresh, new ways…. When we talk about community, we need to help the new ones understand what the returners have enjoyed.”
Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.