Merry Christmas from the Whites
Dear Cedarville family,
On behalf of Cedarville University, Samuel, Rachel, Joy, and I pray you have a blessed Christmas and start to the new year. Please allow me to share a few special moments from this past year.
Samuel turned 9 this year. He has missed playing baseball and soccer and frequently hanging out with his “big kid friends” due to the changes necessary from COVID-19. The orthodontist removed his braces, and now he only has to wear a retainer when he sleeps. Sometimes the little things make life sweeter. Samuel has enjoyed a new running club this fall. Star Wars and Marvel — whether comics, video games, or Legos — entertain him greatly. He often plays Star Wars-themed tunes on the piano, providing a delightful or ominous ambiance for the entire house. God has gifted him musically, and we pray he stewards those gifts well in the future.
Rachel will turn 16 this month. She ran cross country for Cedarville High School this year. She struggled through a swollen Achilles tendon that did not allow her to compete at the level she would have liked, but we are proud of her perseverance through it. Her team made it to regionals for the second time in school history. This year she helped launch about 50 monarch butterflies. The monarchs have shrunk significantly in numbers, but their chance of survival increases greatly with human assistance. Rachel has started driving with her learner’s permit and will soon be driving alone. She is also taking horseback riding lessons and continues to play the piano and sing in a praise band at church.
Jacket and Duchess, our yellow Labrador mix and German shepherd, respectively, fill our home with wagging tails and jovial barks. Jacket loves to cuddle with those she knows, and Duchess likes to be large and in charge. Most frequently, that means greeting all guests with a loud bark announcing arrival and a wagging tail anticipating a new playmate.
Joy has worked diligently with one of our trustees to create the perfect new home on campus that is ideally outfitted for hosting and hospitality, with flexibility to serve for years into the future. It already feels like home, and although COVID-19 doesn’t allow us to have as many people over as we would like, I can only imagine that the home will have thousands of visitors each year if life ever returns to normal. The workload on her has been tremendous. She never buys anything without a coupon or it being on sale, which adds to the complexity of shopping. Words cannot express our gratitude to the trustees for their kindness and generosity in funding and building the new president’s residence. Joy also helps care for her mom, who has Alzheimer’s. Her mom splits time between Ohio with us and Florida with Joy’s brother. Joy keeps the house running smoothly, homeschools Rachel and Samuel, co-teaches a class on campus, and serves in the many roles of a president’s wife.
My personal verses for the year are Philippians 2:3–4, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” God has chosen to make this a year of learning lessons, living out humility, and growing spiritually. I’m thankful for the many things God has taught me, that He is a gracious God of second chances, and that I am closer to Him now than I have ever been. I will be a better servant of Jesus Christ going forward because of it all.
Even in this midst of a difficult season, national unrest, and a global pandemic, God has continued to bless Cedarville in amazing ways. Here are a few highlights:
We are thankful that our students have experienced in-person classes on campus this semester and for such great weather this fall, which allowed us to utilize the outdoor chapel venue. Discipleship continues to be a priority in creative ways.
We announced an anonymous gift commitment of $12 million, the largest ever in the history of the University.
We welcomed our second-largest freshman class ever of 918 students.
We experienced another record enrollment of 4,550, an increase of 170 students.
We opened a 282-bed, $14.65 million residence hall; a 20,000-square-foot, $3.5 million Civil Engineering Center; and a 350-seat, 15,000-square-foot, $7.5 million Chick-fil-A this year. To open facilities worth approximately $25 million without debt is an amazing blessing from God.
We also broke our previous record for annual fundraising with $13.3 million given last year, which is almost $4 million more than any other single year.
As you can see, God has blessed Cedarville marvelously. Join me in giving Him glory and praise for the great things He has done.
We are well on our way with our 10-year campus master plan and are in the early stages of a fundraising effort to pay for it. We are currently designing the Scharnberg Business Center with BHDP architectural firm. I have been amazed at how God has connected generous partners in ministry to our University over the past two years who have given transformational gifts. These individuals, like you, help provide academic excellence and intentional discipleship to the next generation as we equip them to stand for the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ.
This year I am preaching through Philippians with a sermon series titled “Know Jesus. Know Joy.” It reminds us that even in the midst of complete uncertainty, we serve a sovereign God who is in control. Paul also writes that God welcomes our requests and provides a peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray that you will join our family in taking time this holiday season to celebrate the birth of King Jesus, who is the model servant, and that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ will be with your spirit.
Thomas, Joy, Rachel, and Samuel