It’s the middle of July as I write this, and most of the UMHB community is not on campus. When you’re here year-round, you see the full cycle of seasons and this is a quiet one. But this is a unique summer for us, with the impending opening of the new Bawcom Student Union. Since food services, student life, the campus store, and a number of offices will be housed there, the center of campus life will shift to a brand new building this fall. That’s a big event for a school with as much history as ours.
Half of the music department will be in the new building as well. Students and faculty have been busy moving instruments and furniture out of historic Presser Hall and into the Farris Band Hall. The facility is absolutely beautiful. Much like our University, the Music Department will change overnight with the addition of this new home.
One of the most fascinating aspects of this new construction is how you can go from the new, state-of-the-art Student Union to the historic quad in a matter of forty or fifty steps. A few more steps and you are staring at the historic Luther Memorial arches. The entire campus is a constantly flowing conversation between the old and the new.
Those of us who study worship are always discussing the old and the new. The truth is, we all do, whether consciously or not. Time has a way of insuring this conversation and some kind of balance within it. Sure, there are seasons of our lives when we lean in one direction or the other. At times we celebrate new growth and development. Other times we lean into the reassurance of our place in an immense story, indelibly marked by the unfolding of history.
This picture is of the little house where I live. You might recognize it, since it’s a couple doors down from Manning Chapel on Pearl Street. It was built in 1913, and some nights you can almost picture Atticus talking to Jem on the porch or hear the thwap of the screen door as Scout bounds off the front steps to find Dill Harris. The newest addition in this picture is a porch swing that “Rocky,” a carpenter who lives up the street built for me. These days, the boys and I sit on it eating popsicles and watching the birds on the birdfeeder. In the coming year or so, we hope to watch the construction of a new performing arts center in the distance.
Something old, something new. Not stagnant and dead. Not plastic and temporary. Alive, rooted in a time and place so much bigger than what we see or understand, yet marked by the new growth we were made to bring forth. As we begin this unique year in the life of UMHB, I hope we continue to celebrate both of these things and embrace how they enrich and enliven one another.