Second all-campus gathering addresses solidarity


Financial District, NEW YORK--King's hosted its second all-campus gathering Tuesday at noon. President Gregory Thornbury addressed students, staff, faculty and administration on the topic of solidarity. The event began with a few opening announcements from Dean of Students, David Leedy, followed by a scripture reading of Acts 21:17-26 from Student Body President Elect, Maxine Fileta ('15). Before President Thornbury took the stage, Student Body President, Peter Flemming ('14), led the student body in prayer. President Thornbury noted that he was revisiting the topic of solidarity, which he spoke on during an all-campus gathering in the fall, at the request of Vice President of Student Development, Eric Bennet. Thornbury remarked on the passage Fileta read and compared members of King's to the Jews in Jerusalem during Paul's time. The Jews in Jerusalem at the time "felt that they were within a whisker of losing it all, everything that they prized as a nation, and as a culture, and as a civilization." Thornbury asked, "...does that sound familiar? Do you know anybody that feels like that? That's us!"

President Thornbury addressing students at the gathering. Photo by Dean Graham.

Thornbury commented on Paul's willingness to pursue solidarity with the Jewish Christians at great expense because he "understood that solidarity comes in concentric circles moving outward." What does this mean for King's?

"For most of us," Thornbury explained, "we can only think of the first two or three rings of solidarity. We can understand solidarity with ourselves, and our friends, and our family, and maybe that's just about it...." He then described how Paul observed this tendency by going to the temple when the Jewish Christians convened, and emphasized the need for "solidarity in ever-expanding concentric circles."

"I think that this is a mentality that we can fold into the cookie batter here at TKC," Thornbury said.

Thornbury compared members of King's to the Jews of Paul's time who had come to realize that the true temple was the body of believers, and that while the temple was important, the body of believers was more important. He noted that students don't choose TKC for its beautiful or peaceful campus, but that they "come here because of those concentric circles working outward of solidarity, because of the community, because of the idea, because of the mission to which we are called in this city."

Dean of Students David Leedy beginning the event. Photo by Megan Palmer.

At the end of his address, Thornbury mentioned a book: Finite and Infinite Games by NYU professor, James P. Carse. The book distinguishes between finite and infinite games by defining finite games as "games with boundaries," or in other words, "a game of win or lose." "In an infinite game," Thornbury explained, "the goal of the game is just to keep playing--it's not about winning or losing; it's about being in life together."

While King's upcoming Interregnum events are a great examples of finite games, Thornbury exhorted students to "keep in mind...that what we are involved in here is an infinite game of a mission to New York City as a Christian community, as a unified witness to what the Lord is doing here in New York City." He also remarked that "that project is only as good as our ongoing solidarity with one another, and that is pursued in the same way as Paul being in solidarity with those Jewish Jerusalem: willing[ness] to make concessions for the common weal."

Benjamin Gotchel ('15) commented on the vision presented by Thornbury: "'s an interesting vision because it's not just us watching him accomplish it for us--it's something that The King's College as a body has to participate in with him. So he's leading us, but he's not carrying the wagon on his own back--we're all carrying it together. I think that to see this succeed, it needs to be something that everyone takes to heart as a personal goal, or a personal responsibility."

Chelsea-Dagmar Wetherill ('15) expressed the encouragement she felt at Thornbury's articulation of the purpose of King's community. "You say, 'yes, I came here for the community,' but why is that? It's because there is so much love here in this Christian community, and we are pursuing together a life in that infinite game, and that's really what I loved about his talk."