By Sarah Cameron
On November 6, 1971, the Edmonton Journal published an article following Concordia’s 50th anniversary celebrations. The article addresses Concordia’s recent affiliation with the University of Alberta, giving way to Concordia’s emergence into secular mainstream of education in Edmonton. Dr. Merklinger reflects on Concordia’s founding theme: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. He expresses that this college was not only for the churches, but that it is also for Christians pursuing secular careers, to “let their light shine.”
The Christian faith is meant to expand like light for the world to see (Matthew 5:14-16). It is malleable yet resilient, adapting to the contexts of an ever-changing world. By nature, it is counter-cultural because it is of God, not of the world. This is demonstrated in the 1988-89 yearbook report by Dan Abraham who gives an overview of the Worship Committee’s “ambitious year” as they “sought to share the Gospel in traditional and innovative ways.” Along with traditional religious events was a “giant, life-size, walk-through Clue Game,” and public forums on contemporary issues ranging from creation/evolution to the New Age movement to abortion. In my time at Concordia we had similar events, such as Bible studies, spiritual life week, a public debate, games nights, and more. I found this innovative ability of faith most significantly demonstrated through changes in chapel: Christian truth now delivered in a dimly-lit room with stage-lights, candles, and soft background music. All are welcome in this calming environment separated in space and time from the chaotic busy-ness that surrounds it.
St. Paul wrote that the message of the cross is foolishness to those of the world’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). To some it seems foolish that chapel in a university setting would prioritize rest or that a Christian college would have sought to offer secular courses as it did many decades ago. Although Concordia is no longer a faith-based institution, I and other alumni and students still draw strength from the same “foolish” faith present in 1921 when Rev. Albert Schwermann and others boldly opened Concordia College, a faith that persisted through a century of changes and struggles by God’s grace and through the God-fearing people he called.
Sarah Cameron graduated from Concordia University of Edmonton with her BSc in 2017. She held various roles in the Concordia Christian Union and worked behind the scenes of chapel (The Way) from 2017-2020. She is currently completing her MTS at Taylor Seminary.
Concordia’s CUE 100 committee is very excited to feature the written work of several students and alumni as part of its centenary celebrations. As these celebrations continue, you can look forward to reading short articles by these writers on interesting aspects of Concordia’s history over the past century. Writers were given access to archival documents on particular topics which they were asked to summarize and personally respond to. You’ll be able to discover much about Concordia’s history and how it still resonates among us today. We hope you find these articles both informative and entertaining. Happy 100, Concordians!