One of the premier ways in which Washington Adventist University enriches the spiritual and personal lives of its students, faculty, and staff is through a weekly convocation. Convocation is central to our expression as a welcoming Community of Faith within the context of academic excellence. The Convocation programs embrace the Seventh-day Adventist heritage while at the same time addressing the spiritual needs of all people, regardless of denominational background. Convocation exists to point all people to Christ and worship Him through music, word, and other creative means. Convocation services are held every Wednesday from 11:15 am until 12 noon at the Sligo Seventh Day Adventist Church Sanctuary.

Along with the beginning of the 2011-2012 Academic Year comes the traditions and nuances of University life. One such tradition is weekly Convocation, the one campus event that hopes to bring together every student, faculty, and staff member for a spiritual moment of inspiration, remembrance, and prayer. The Opening Convocation of the academic year was held on August 31, 2011 and the hall was filled with perhaps more members of the WAU family than ever before.

Music Department Chair, Dr. James Bingham (pictured left), performed along with Music Senior, Ms. Shanti Seidel (pictured left), the Organ Prelude and Processional, which consisted of All My Hope on God is Founded by Michael Burkhardt, and Trumpet Tune by Jean Joseph Mouret respectively.

Vice-President of Campus Ministries, Baraka Muganda (pictured right), led the congregation in an Invocation of thanks for rest received during the summer and the opportunities that lay present in the coming year. He prayed especially for the students for guidance during their academic and spiritual lives.

After the Opening Hymn, Dr. Susan Hornshaw (pictured left) took the stage to welcome everyone to the convocation as well as to the academic year. She spoke of her understanding of redemption and salvation as a calling to live a life of forgiveness and understanding.

She also reminded the congregation to remember God in the good times as well as the bad,”When things are difficult, go to God and come to chapel, when things are good, go to God and come to chapel.”

She concluded by revealing that due to working in the public system during much of her professional life, she was unable to integrate spiritual precepts in her addresses and the fact that she can now, warms her heart.

Time was given to the new Student Association President, Alcira Groomes (pictured below), to speak. She introduced the new SA team and thanked sponsor and Dean of Women, Adrienne Matthews as well as University President, Dr. Weymouth Spence.

Ms. Groomes began her talk with one of her favorite Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11. She said it struck a chord with her because, “It talks about God having a specific plan for us, to prosper us, to give us a future, and a hope.”

She believes that we all share a common goal despite our differences, which is for “our school to improve and become better each year, for our buildings and living conditions to get better, for activities to improve and the morale of our school to get stronger.”

She made it known that she is intent on taking the level of school spirit to new heights, to the point where students can say confidently, “This is MY school.” Her speech was a calling for students to get involved in any way possible to improve the University and by doing so, excel in innumerable ways.

Ellie Barker, Admissions Counselor, read the Scripture Reading, Romans 12:2,3, after which the Musical Selection, Sonata in G minor for Piano and Cello, Allegro’s Cello part was performed Ms. Seidel. She was accompanied by world-renowned pianist and Assistant Professor of Music at WAU, Daniel Lau.

University President, Dr. Weymouth Spence (pictured left) delivered an address entitled, The Race. He welcomed the students, faculty, staff, and all who were present to the opening convocation before delivering a state of the institution address. He also highlighted the achievements the University had witnessed,”The Lord is continuing to bless WAU. Our financial position is stronger, there is enrollment growth, we have updated the residence hall furniture, we are building a brand new Music Building, and this fall we will roll out, plans for a new Fitness and Wellness Center.”

It wasn’t a surprise that applause began with the mention of new residence hall furniture and crescendoed with the promise of a new Fitness and Wellness Center. It tied in with the mission that Dr. Spence has promoted throughout his time as WAU President, the mission to, “engage minds and transform lives.”

“I am committed to working with the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and our community partners to build an exceptional academic institution. To produce graduates who bring competence and moral leadership to their communities.”

President Spence then presented a letter written to him by a freshman who was involved in the Bridge program. The student related how reading the mission on the University website had sparked his ambition to study at WAU.  He enrolled in the Bridge Program, and was pleased with his work and the opportunity to better himself. Even when the odds seemed insurmountable, the student persevered through mind-bending assignments and failed tests. This was perhaps the greatest lesson he learned in his short time at WAU in addition to conquering his fear of public speaking and face-to-face communication. Despite these trying circumstances, the student still had the hope and confidence that he would not only graduate, but do so with honors.

Dr. Spence presented this story as an example of the changes that WAU can effect in young minds, “Engaging minds and transforming lives is what we do here at Washington Adventist University,”

He addressed the challenge of education and success among minority groups and stated that change was needed to effectively meet these challenges, “There is no easy button to press to solve the problems facing today’s young adult, and specifically, men of color, overnight. The challenge will be to create and sustain policies, programs in an environment of diminishing resources. This will require us to come up with creative ways to address college completion, for many minority students that are both effective and efficient. The question is not whether we can afford to make the necessary changes; we must ask whether we can afford to not make closing the achievement gap a priority, especially among young men of color.”

Dr. Spence then referred to US President, Barack Obama’s pledge to ensure that by 2020, America would once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. He revealed that in order to contribute to this plan; several factors must be considered. These include collaboration with K-12 for academic excellence, implementing student retention strategies that are effective, implementing early learning assessment and diagnosis; careful, deliberate and consistent academic and career advising, engagement of students in the learning process, placing priority on learning outcomes, and encouraging parents to write letters to their children.

His talk also included encouragement for the students and he invited them to be perseverant and to be winners. He concluded by reminding the students that in life, the race is “not for the swift, but for those who endure to the end.”

Chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages, Dr. Susan Comilang led the congregation through the Responsive Reading, the 121st Psalm, entitled God the Help of Those Who Seek Him.

Pastor Rob Vandeman (pictured left), Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees and Secretary of the Columbia Union Conference, then rose to offer the Prayer of Dedication. He prayed for spiritual help for the University and to bless its students, faculty, and staff and lead them in the right direction for this academic year and beyond.

The final offering of the program saw Ramone Griffith, a Theology and Music Senior and tenor, sing The Lords Prayer by Albert Malotte.

The congregation returned to their duties while the Postlude, March by Flor Peters, was performed.


January 24 – 29 has been designated as Week in Spiritual Emphasis. The Week will include daily convocation at 11:15 am and conclude with a Sabbath morning program (schedule). The theme for the week is Paradigm Shift; Moving to Higher Ground.


This Week inf Spiritual Emphasis is unique for it is a yearly opportunity for the University community to hear students, and students alone, speak to the congregation. This is part of Vice-President of Ministry, Dr. Baraka Muganda’s plan to help “empower young people to have a part in sharing the Good News to colleagues.”

Dr. Muganda was optimistic about the impact that the student speakers will have on the spiritual climate of WAU,” The Ministry Department believes in students, trusts them, and has confidence in them. That is why we gave them this opportunity.” He has earmarked the Week to offer “spiritual revival, and to help the campus community renergive their spirit and recommit to Jesus.”

The Ministry Department has been specially assigned with the task of nurturing spiritual life in the campus community. Dr. Muganda outlined the challenge facing the mission,” Our goal to is to make the Bible relevant to students amidst the distractions of the mainstream media, television and internet. Both the media and our department are targeting the same audience: young people with a postmodern mind.”

When asked about the department’s goals, Dr Muganda said,” We want to serve young people and equip them service both locally and globally. We do this by nurturing them and giving them the opportunity to serve. When students serve, they commandeer the spirit of the Church through discipleship, leadership, service and, fellowship.”

Dr Muganda doesn’t want the student community to think of the Week in Spiritual Emphasis as a required appointment,” The week is for the students' benefit, they will be challenged to be better students. What they learn here will be a spring-board for their future lives. It is an opportunity to relax at the feet of Jesus and leave your burdens for a little while.”

The week in Spiritual Emphasis will include presentations by Akeem James, Juliana Baioni, Alex Barrientos, Sheila Martinez, Alex Karras, Curtis Roberts, and Ramone Griffith.

This week, September 13-18, is the Fall Week in Spiritual Emphasis, featuring daily messages from Pastor Fred Warfield. The morning clas schedule is altered to allow for daily attendance at 11:16 am in the Sligo Church Sanctuary. All are invited.

Pastor Warfield has selected a theme of "Activated! - Living the With-God Lfe in the Last Days!!" with daily massages including:

  • Monday - "Obsessed"
  • Tuesday - "Undeclared Major"
  • Wednesday - "Countdown to Armageddon"
  • Thursday - "Can you hear me now?"
  • Friday - "Don't Fail the Pop-Quiz"
  • Sabbath - "Homesick"

Pastor Fred Warfield, was born in Philadelphia, PA and raised in Southern New Jersey.  While pursuing a degree in medicine, he attended a NET Evangelism seminar at his local church and felt a strong calling on his life.  After much prayer, he accepted God's call and transferred down to Oakwood College (now University) where he completed his degree in theology.

Soon after he felt God leading him to work in the area of youth, and completed his Masters degree in Youth Ministry from the Seminary at Andrews University.  Pastor Fred has worked with youth in various capacities all over the United States and abroad, having served most recently as a Chaplain and Bible Teacher in California.  He is convicted that God has called him to mobilize and to lead this army of youth to finish the work here on the earth, and to prepare the for the return of Jesus!

He is married to his best friend Lindzie and has two precious little girls, Pheobe age 2 and Michaela who is 5 months old.