News Release

Finding Belonging in Institute: A Homecoming Devotional With The Southern Virginia Institute of Religion

Beginning Homecoming weekend on a spiritual note, the Southern Virginia Institute of Religion hosted a devotional in the Knight Arena, where Institute instructors Mark Schmidt, Neil Carpenter, and Terrol Williams spoke on the benefits of participating in Institute and the peace, belonging, and a sense of home found there.

“Homecoming is a return to a crucial place of development to remind ourselves how we were shaped, comforted, and encouraged at this place we call home,” said Chief Academic Officer and Provost Dr. James Lambert. “For you students, Southern Virginia University is currently your home, with all the intended blessings and powerful moments that are shaping you to be who you will become.”

Lambert shared that in several European countries, there is a common saying to keep the church in the center of the village as a constant reminder to be grounded in truth and avoid distractions, and how Southern Virginia follows that example by keeping Institute in the center of learning.

Schmidt spoke on how Institute provides a place to seek and find truth in a world where the answers to everything are at your fingertips, and how even simple things can be made complicated.

“What is truth? I testify to you that it is Jesus Christ,” said Schmidt. “I testify that Jesus Christ is the only person who can set you free. It may seem at first constraining, but Jesus Christ is extremely liberating. I invite you to make the Savior the center of your life.”

Sharing a personal experience of how he and his family were guided to become a part of Southern Virginia Institute, Carpenter spoke on how one can learn to hear and recognize God’s voice at Institute.

“Latter-day Saint scriptures help us understand that revelation comes to our mind and to our heart. In other words, we pay attention to the thoughts and words that come, and we trust our feelings,” said Carpenter. “My invitation is this, to consider God’s voice yearning and beckoning for you to come home. He loves you. You are wanted, you are loved, and you are needed.”

Quoting Robert Frost’s poem, “Death of a Hired Man,” Williams explored the meaning of home, and how we can always come home spiritually to Jesus Christ, no matter the circumstances or reasons for doing so.

“All who come to him receive mercy, compassion, and an invitation to walk with him,” said Williams. “Of course, our Heavenly Father wants us to come home because we want to, but he nonetheless opens the door regardless of the motivation.”

Kate Huber (’22), president of the Institute Student Council, invited all students to participate in Institute, enjoy the blessings and feelings of belonging found there, and to learn and grow with their peers.

Conducted by Kyle Nielsen, the director of choral activities, the Chamber Singers performed “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” accompanied by a string arrangement by Julia Evans (‘24). At the end of the meeting, those in attendance sang the University anthem, “Love One Another.” Lambert also invited the campus community to attend the historic homecoming concert, “I Long to See You: A Jubilee Choral Concert,” later that day.