‘Ignite’ inspires unified vision in Class of 2020
Story by Laurie Merrill
Photos by Brandon Sullivan
GCU News Bureau
It’s a moment both solemn and joyous, a symbolic unifying of a new class of students and a pledge for each to do one’s best in the world.
Grand Canyon University’s Ignite ceremony, now in its fourth year, brings together thousands of freshmen who each light a candle from a single flame and, as a group, raise that fire into the sky.
It’s a commissioning of the incoming class amid a message to students to let their light shine brightly. It signifies that each individual can be brighter in community, said Pastor Tim Griffin, GCU’s dean of students.
“There’s a chance to a make a commitment to be a difference-maker in the world,” Griffin told the assembled Class of 2020 as candles were lit, each to each, in the ceremony on the Quad. “In order to make a difference you will need each other … the ceremony signifies reliance on each other.”
He quoted from Matthew 5:14: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
And he made reference to the fire of the Olympic torch, considered by ancient Greeks to be a divine element and in modern Olympic Games seen as a representation of man’s positive values. It is the lighting of the torch that officially kicks off the Games.
It’s a fitting reference for freshmen who are starting their college careers. And it’s a fitting message to those who hope to find their purpose and to grow closer to God.
When Griffin asked thousands of individuals to raise their candles to the heavens — their faces illuminated in a soft flickering glow — they united into a single group.
The ceremony, and the one-hour New Student Worship that preceded it, touched those in attendance.
“I loved it,” Jaci Fernandez said. “I’m really excited for the school year now.”
“It’s a really cool thing to do,” said Colton Daley. “It makes me really proud to be part of the community.”
Before the Ignite ceremony, students were treated to an hour of songs performed by the Chapel Worship Band.
Music filled the Arena and the songs of praise were so rousing that nearly everyone was on their feet, some swaying with emotion, others dancing and many singing along to words that appeared on the video screen.
They perhaps sang loudest to the song “Wake,” the pre-chorus of which goes: “You will never fade away, Your love is here to stay, by my side, in my life, shining through me every day.”
Griffin said the event was more worship-driven than message-driven, similar to The Gathering, which takes place at 8 p.m. Tuesdays in Antelope Gym during the academic year. “It’s a unique experience for the students,” he said.
Chapel, at 11:15 a.m. Mondays, is geared for a general University crowd.
Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or Laurie.Merrill@GCU.edu