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ISSUE 120 VOL 1 PUBLISHED 9/22/2006

Anderson speaks on interdependency, unity of purpose

By Emelie Heltsley
News Editor

Friday, September 22, 2006

President David Anderson '74 gave his first chapel talk on Monday to students, faculty and guests assembled in Boe Chapel. Using verses from Ephesians 4, Anderson centered his message around two important themes for the beginning of a new academic year: the kind of community that St. Olaf wants to be, and the shaping of lives to reach that goal.

The portrait of the early church as shown in Ephesians is one that can be inspirational to the St. Olaf community, according to Anderson. The St. Olaf community must be interconnected and invested in each other for goals to be met.

"It is our distinctive strength at the college that all of us… are interconnected," Anderson said.

Anderson also brought the strong St. Olaf faith community to light, calling it a source of deep unity for the college.

"At St. Olaf, we exemplify the one body," he said.

Anderson expressed his admiration of students’ interaction and unity.

"The goodwill, the affection, the respect and relaxed humor with which students treat each other is remarkable," Anderson said.

Anderson also spoke on the college's rich Lutheran heritage, which places great importance on vocation and using individual gifts to glorify God. For St. Olaf to be worthy of its calling, the college community as a whole must be rooted in humility, gentleness, patience and peace, and it must maintain the unity of the Spirit.

In a rigorous academic setting, Anderson noted that it is easy to become isolated people whose intensive classes train them to specialize and to argue.

"Most of us grew up thinking we were the smartest person in the room," Anderson said. Instead of getting caught up in a mindset of competition, exclusion or pomposity, Anderson suggested that the St. Olaf community turn to the message in Ephesians – speak the truth in love.

"We need to concentrate on building up, not the merciless ridicule perfected in graduate seminars," he said.

In closing, Anderson again stressed his message of interdependency, humility and a unity of purpose.

"At the end of the day, none of us is the smartest person in the room," he said. "We are part of an interconnected body."

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