A Place Where God Speaks

A Place Where God Speaks

Mar 18, 2016

by Dr. Michael Jordan
Dean of the Chapel
Chair of the Department of Biblical Studies
Theology and Philosophy One
Houghton College, Houghton, NY


On behalf of the faculty, staff, and administration of Houghton College, please accept my warm welcome to our workplace and home. Houghton was founded in 1883 by Willard J. Houghton, who was born in this tiny town 58 years prior. At the age of 26, he accepted Christ — he called it being “reclaimed” — and set about a new mission in life. In his words, he wanted to “light up this dark and sin-cursed world,” letting the Gospel “lights shine very clearly on the dangerous places, exposing the rocks and sandbars that the masses are striking.”

That’s a very common Christian sentiment — the desire to make the world a better place. He often signed his letters “Yours for fixing up this world, W.J. Houghton.” To fix the world, to light up the world —what Christian doesn’t wish to do this? For some, this means going into ministry; for others, it means going into missionary work. For Willard, this meant education and evangelism. He was very involved in establishing Sunday Schools with children in the little communities surrounding Houghton, and would frequently preach at revival meetings around western New York. Eventually, Mr. Houghton set his sights toward the education of young adults. He worked with the treasurer of the Wesleyan Education Society to found a place where we “could school our children away from the environments of the larger towns and cities.” Mr. Houghton agreed to give a generous financial donation “so as to make it easy for the poor…to send their children from a distance to their own Christian school.”

After 133 years, we’re still at it. I graduated from Houghton in 1999 and it was a very formative time in my life. It was here that I began to explore the world

of ideas. It was here that I began to think about the connections between our worship and the rest of our lives. It was here that I began to see that I too had my own way of shedding God’s light on the world. And it was here that my call to ministry really crystallized. In the classroom, in the chapel, on the quad, in my dormitory (my beloved Shenawana Hall): God spoke to me here and changed my life.

It was that reality that drew me back to Houghton in 2009. We moved back for my wife Jill to take a job teaching mathematics. I knew I could probably teach part-time, and I was hopeful of finding my professional niche; but even more than that, I wanted to come back here because I knew it was a place where God speaks. After a very stressful seven-year pastorate, I wanted to surround myself with people and surroundings that pointed me back to God, and encouraged me to become the best Christian I could be. Again, through my time in the classroom and the time interacting with so many godly folks, God spoke to me here and changed my life.

It’s with that in mind that I welcome you here to my home, to Houghton. May it be a place of rest and renewal for you; a place where God’s Word is proclaimed; a place where you know in your mind and in your heart how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. May God speak to you here during your time in Houghton, and change your life.

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