Concordia Portland Reunion: ‘Like Stepping Into a Time Machine’

Submitted by Rev. Kirk Hulvey

Lutheran Church of the Cross

Kent, Washington

In August of 2005, I met with Pastor Orlie Trier and his partner in ministry, Darcy Paape, along with the other student dorm chaplains in the vestry of St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, immediately adjacent to Concordia Portland’s campus. That was my first small group experience as a student at Concordia Portland.

On June 26, 2022, I returned to that room to “vest up” as a guest preacher for a worship service that was included as part of a gathering sponsored by the Concordia Portland Alumni Society. It was like stepping into a time machine, as I was transported to that formative beginning nearly 17 years before.

Surprisingly, however, I did not experience as many emotions as one might have expected. Instead, God gave me a certain level of peace and acceptance. Profound gratitude washed over me as I could see God’s guidance in my life, both during my time as a student and over the years since I graduated. Although the memories of Concordia are many and cherished, in that moment I found myself humbled by the task of sharing God’s Word with fellow graduates and the people of God at St. Michael’s. It brought me a lot of joy to be able to do that in a place that meant so much to me.

It was also particularly meaningful to run into some old friends, a couple of professors, and a handful of others folks I hadn’t seen in a while. Again, it was the gratitude for those relationships that struck me most. As I experienced in my time as a student, the people at the reunion were very loving and welcoming as we celebrated our beloved university together.
Most meaningful to me was sharing the experience with my wife and son. My wife and I met at orientation weekend, just five days after that initial small group meeting in the vestry at St. Michael’s. And this past weekend, my son walked the campus with his mom and me for the first time. God has a way of bringing things full circle and showing us that His plans are good and right and perfect.

Thank you to the organizers of the event, especially Rev. Paul Birner and Rev. Dr. Phil Brandt, for affording me the opportunity to preach, and thank you to the people of God at St. Michael’s for hosting. And thank you to all my fellow Cavaliers who together share our lasting motto: “The cross of Christ is light to me!”

NOTE: This special service is available to watch on YouTube. In it, you will also be able to see the dedication of the Schwidder artwork that was formerly mounted in the chapel at the upper room at Concordia University. These works are now installed at St. Michael’s (keep watching for more info on this).

A Concordia Portland tribute video was also shown at the 2022 NOW District Convention. It can be viewed here.

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