As the new President of FWC, I have had many blessings and have engaged many incredible people who are part of our Christ-centered community. One of the highlights of the first nine months of my tenure was a two-hour luncheon this past July with many of the student leaders of our high school. I was encouraged for our future and by the crucible of FWC that has produced such keen-minded and clear-hearted leaders.

While we discussed several challenges that we must meet to live out our mission more fully, I heard an authenticity, vulnerability, and desire for God’s leading from these students that gave me courage and hope. Our students clearly see the good that permeates our school community, and they see the elements of our thinking and behavior that impede our living as fully for Christ as we ought. There is a maturity and soul-searching from this leadership group that makes me proud. One of the aspects of school culture we discussed centered around how much we empower our students to lead in meaningful ways to impact the student culture. We discussed the possibility of the Class of 2018 becoming the first class to read the same biblical summer reading as the faculty and then choose the theme verse for the school year instead of having it given to them. We talked about the influence that could permeate the student body if the seniors were the ones who grappled with the scripture, chose the verse they believed God was calling them and the school to live out, and then led and inspired the school to reflect the message of that verse.

As I reflect on that conversation and the ensuing action steps, I am so pleased with our start of a powerful new tradition at FWC. The Class of 2018 read the book of Galatians, just as our faculty did this summer. These students then, in their individual Bible classes, debated the various messages of the text and particular verses, choosing one verse from each particular class. Those verses were then brought to the entire senior class. After prayerful consideration, the class whittled the verses down to two and voted. They ultimately chose Galatians 5:13: “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” Particularly given the luncheon conversation I had with our leaders earlier in the summer, I was so pleased with this outcome.

Listening to our faculty and leadership team, it is clear that there are already healthy and powerful manifestations of the heartbeat of this verse coursing through our school. I invited our student body president, Seth Maynor, to deliver the devotion at our recent Board of Trust meeting on the meaning of the verse. He was eloquent and powerful with his words and both reminded our board about the why behind our governance of FWC and inspired them by providing such a great example of our mission lived well. I anticipate with joy and reverence the way and means by which God will work in and through our students to bring this Galatians verse from Paul alive in our community.

Godspeed to all.

Kenneth C. Cheeseman