Dordt College News

Leading off with the president

May 22, 2012

Dr. Carl E. Zylstra

That's all...

“Finis” is the term some authors have used when they come to the end of their body of work.

Translated, it means simply “It’s finished” or, more colloquially, “That’s all.” In fact, that’s the pattern I followed when I preached the last sermon of my first pastorate before leaving for graduate school in 1979. My title was simply “That’s All Folks!”

Today, I think perhaps Johann Sebastian Bach set a better example. He wrote “SDG” at the end of his musical compositions—Soli Deo Gloria. Maybe it’s my age or, perhaps, a growing measure of maturity that has convinced me this time to follow Bach’s example rather than the traditional “Finis.”

As I pen my last notes for the Voice, I could look back and reflect on the thousands of graduates to whom I have presented diplomas during the past decade and a half who are now spread out across the world in service to Christ’s kingdom. Or I could recall with satisfaction nearly $100 million dollars in gifts and pledges that, added to a quarter of a billion dollars of tuition and fees over that same period of time, have built a faculty and campus facilities that can serve as a foundation for generations of educational service yet to come.

I’ve been gratified that colleague presidents from various religious traditions across the country and around the world have summed up their impression of the recent years in the college’s history with something like this: “Dordt College has always been known for its intense dedication to taking seriously the faith foundation of everything it does—and today it does so even more than before.”

Yet, when all is said and done, it is never about our own efforts and our own contributions in the Lord’s service. It’s about his gracious love that has permitted us, by the Holy Spirit, to become part of his mission as he puts back together the pieces of his broken world through Jesus Christ his son.  

That’s why, when coming to the end of a chapter in a history that traces God’s work in and through this square inch of his world we call Dordt College, the only appropriate subscript is the one used so famously by J.S. Bach and others and, indeed, inscribed on our college motto from our very beginning. SDG—Soli Deo Gloria. To God alone be all the Glory.

Dr. Carl E. Zylstra retired this summer after 16 years as president of Dordt college.

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