Saying goodbye to Trinity Lutheran College | Worship

By David Parks | Sep 21, 2016
David Parks

It was the toughest decision of my life.

More than a dozen members of Trinity Lutheran College board sat around a conference table in the library on the fifth floor of the school’s campus building in Everett.

As a TLC alum, I felt the weight of closing the college deep in my chest.

Officers, administrators, deans, board members and student government representatives, all of one accord, affirmed the motion to cease instruction with the close of the 2015-16 school year in May. There were tears in our eyes.

“Aye,” each of us said as we went around the table, one at a time.

We did not take the decision lightly. In fact, it was the last possible option after months of careful, painstaking and prayerful work.

Could we merge? Could we borrow? Could we overhaul programs? Could we sell assets?

We explored and considered everything we could. In the end, it was clear that the cost of continuing was more than we could manage.

We knew the students were our first priority. The faculty and administration did their best to see that most could transfer or graduate.

As hard as it was to close, it was also a moment of realization. It was quite moving to look back over more than 70 years of learning, growth and discovery.

TLC leaves behind a remarkable legacy of not only a quality liberal arts education for thousands of undergrads, but also a life-changing experience for most of them.

They all had an opportunity to develop marketable skills and, even more, a chance to grow in faith. God’s spirit stirring up curiosity, passion and meaning.

We are proud of the students who came to us: some with long stories of Christian experience and identity, others with different religious traditions and some with no faith at all.

People of color, first generation college students, those coming from military service, international students and some steeped in the Lutheran church all studied together at the college – a microcosm of a much larger society.

The auctioneers are nearly done liquidating assets; desks, chairs, kitchen appliances and book shelves. The diplomas have been mailed and the records all stored away. The board has streamlined itself to take care of final details.

It was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make, but it was a good one. We did the right thing, the only thing.

I was glad in that moment to have been surrounded by such a group of wise, graceful and talented people who worked together to make that decision.

I feel deep respect for them all: for the employees who lost jobs, for so many who had to uproot families and move to new callings, for students who celebrated their experience, for generous contributors who shared a unique vision, and for elected board and foundation leaders who hung in to the very end.

They worked hard. They are people of integrity, intellect and commitment.

I am sad and proud all at the same time. It’s been a good run, Trinity!

We’re all looking forward to something new in the months and years ahead, trusting there will be ways to support students as they grow in skill, character, knowledge and faith.

Thank God for Trinity Lutheran College.

David Parks is the lead pastor of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Everett. The Lutheran church is at 215 Mukilteo Blvd. For more information, go to www.oslc-everett.com.

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