Mission Essays

George Fox University, a Christ-centered community, prepares students spiritually, academically, and professionally to think with clarity, act with integrity, and serve with passion.

George Fox University

George Fox is Oregon's nationally recognized Christian university, providing students with personal attention, global opportunities to learn and serve, and a supportive community that encourages academic rigor and spiritual growth.

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A Christ-Centered Community

As a Christ-centered university we desire the presence of Christ to be at the core of all we do. Not everyone who studies at the university is a follower of Christ, but many of the students—and all those who teach and work here—seek to dwell in Christ and have Christ dwell within and among us. Jesus says, “abide in me and I will abide in you” (John 15. 1-8) just as the branch abides in the vine and is dead apart from it. The sign of a diverse people abiding in Christ is having the same mind as Christ Jesus, having the same love, and being one in spirit and purpose (Philippians 2.1-4). By abiding in Christ, we know God and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and we expect this to permeate our living, our breathing, our thinking, and our every action.

As a community we are not merely a collection of individuals. We strive to reflect God’s image as a body—that is, having many members who work together for a common purpose, who belong together, and who have Christ as our head. God’s image is most fully reflected in community. God said, “Let us” create man and woman “in our image.” Just as the three persons of the Trinity share life, so God created humans to share life (Genesis 1-2).

We also describe ourselves as a wisdom community. By wisdom community, we do not mean that we have attained wisdom, but that we esteem it highly and seek it together. We seek a holistic knowledge and understanding that is open to correction and that serves the purpose of loving others well. We believe that in listening well and growing in wisdom, we can live in joy, freedom, and responsibility in ways that are “right, just and fair” (Proverbs 1:3).

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Prepares students spiritually

George Fox University is committed to the spiritual formation of our students and our community. A Christ-like person is integrated in mind, emotions and actions; loving towards others, engaged in service, peace and justice, and able to discern God’s will and consider differences. Therefore, we are committed to providing environments of grace so that no matter where a person might be on the journey, she or he will find companionship, encouragement, and spiritual guidance.

An experience of growing in Christ is not a programmatic and linear effort, but a creative and often serendipitous adventure. The touchstones of the spiritual formation process are scriptural study, spiritual friendship and community, intellectual pursuit, spiritual disciplines including contemplative and active practices, gatherings for prayer and worship, service, peace  and justice, and character and faith development through discipleship. George Fox University engages these touchstones throughout the educational experience. Intentional time, space, and reflection enhance awareness and provide opportunities for the Holy Spirit to transform students’ lives.

Graduate and undergraduate students can expect that the spiritual values of George Fox are integrated into the curriculum and into the personal spiritual journeys of the faculty. Undergraduates also have a variety of co-curricular opportunities to engage their faith personally and in community. Faculty members bring an authentic and lived faith into the classroom, as do the staff in their service to students and the university, and all are accountable for spiritual growth.

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Prepares students academically

George Fox University fosters active engagement of mind, soul, and body, encouraging students to grow deep in faith and knowledge while preparing to meet the world’s needs.

As an institution that has long valued the liberal arts, George Fox University challenges students to see how various academic disciplines connect with one another. For instance, natural and social sciences, theology, art, philosophy, economics, politics, and health are all part of shared humanity; each time students delve deeper into one of these topics they grow in their capacity to learn the other disciplines as well.

An academic life fosters curiosity. Students and faculty pursue scholarly adventures together as they work side by side in the classroom, studio, and laboratory. Students are invited to see learning as a lifelong process. George Fox expects faculty to be experts in their fields and to be actively engaged in advancing knowledge. Scholarship may take the form of discovery, integration, application, or innovation in pedagogy. It includes, but is not limited to, the creation of books, articles, poems, paintings, and new technologies. Faculty pursue scholarly projects not for the purposes of personal advancement, but to better understand God and God’s creation, and to serve others.

Members of the community are challenged to understand ourselves, our common humanity, where we have been, and where we are going. Both undergraduate and graduate students learn about themselves, their families and friends, and their communities as they face the rigors of academic preparation. University life is often demanding, sometimes pushing students beyond familiarity and comfort, and beyond what they thought they could accomplish. This growth brings new understanding and connection with God, neighbor, and self.

At George Fox, students see Christian faith in relation to all forms of knowledge and wisdom. This is faith integration at its best: synthesizing ideas from various academic disciplines with a Christian worldview. Or, perhaps, this is faith desegregation, as we strive to mend the divide between knowing God’s character and understanding God’s creation.

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Prepares students professionally

Alongside the liberal arts, the university maintains professional programs that prepare undergraduate and graduate students for careers to meet society’s pressing needs. Theory and practice coexist: the big ideas of academia are connected to the practical matters of making a life and a living, equipping students to serve the changing world’s needs.

Our desire is to provide to our graduates an academic background that addresses the specific professional areas to which they are called and that enables them to discern the ways in which spirituality intersects and influences professional life. Therefore, George Fox University draws upon skilled and highly regarded faculty to equip students for their careers. We believe that professional preparation is practical and holistic, engaging the whole person—mind, body, and spirit.

We provide students with multiple opportunities to practice their professions as they acquire the knowledge, skills, and dispositions critical to success in their respective fields. We teach students in every discipline that service to the community and to the world is an indispensible component of professional excellence.

We expose our students to international opportunities, at home and abroad, in order to equip them with new skills and impart wisdom in the art of human relations. Our graduates exhibit the ability and willingness to speak out against injustice and violence in their workplaces and communities and seek to influence their surroundings for good in their professions, communities, neighborhoods and families.

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To think with clarity

Our goal at George Fox University is to seek truth together. Clarity of thought is essential. Thinking with clarity includes the ability to think rationally: to look carefully at the evidence, to realize and understand how it can be undercut by bias, and to learn how to differentiate and weigh the value of competing points of view. We realize, however, that we can never know all there is to know, so when we put forth our ideas about truth we do so with humility as we open ourselves to the thoughts of other truth seekers.

Logic and other rational thought processes are valuable tools in the search for truth, but they are not sufficient. Thinking with clarity includes thinking with our hearts and souls, for there are times when logic alone may provide answers that we know in our hearts and souls are not the right or loving answers. Thinking with the heart and soul is not counter to logic; it is the type of thinking we must use when our knowledge is insufficient. Our knowledge is never totally sufficient. Thinking clearly with our hearts and souls comes from opening ourselves to revelation through the Bible, Holy Spirit and prayer.

Revelation is the foundation of wisdom; without revelation we will always be at the mercy of our limited intelligence and inadequate knowledge. Wisdom will lead us to seek greater knowledge while at the same time informing our understanding of truth. Our goal is for our students to use their minds, bodies, hearts, and souls to collect, assimilate, and process the various kinds of knowledge present to humanity, so that they might indeed think with clarity.

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To act with integrity

Learning to act with integrity is a developmental process involving congruence between values, beliefs and actions. The first step is the willingness to engage in an honest appraisal of who we are, including our awareness that we have been created in God’s image and yet we still struggle with our brokenness. The next step is providing a place where difficult questions can be asked as students seek to synthesize their learning from academic texts, current research, class discussions, and human experience. These discussions continue beyond the classroom, occurring in conversations between fellow students and with mentors. Through these interactions, a student develops an internal framework that reflects an assimilation of new ideas into a coherent belief structure which can adapt and respond to new ideas.

The development of an internal framework of beliefs is of little value if these beliefs are not manifest in actions. The importance of action is clear throughout Scripture (see, for example, James 2:14-26 and Phil 2:12-13.) Furthermore, the Spirit works within us, empowering us to act in ways that are consistent with our Christian values and beliefs. The university community provides both challenge and support for students to act in ways that are consistent with the Christian worldview. Acting with integrity may involve subtle behavior changes: avoiding gossip, demonstrating stewardship, committing to a spiritual discipline. However, acting with integrity may also involve significant risk and courage as students move beyond their close friends and family to demonstrate God’s love to an increasingly diverse, global community.

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To serve with passion

Preparing students to serve with passion arises out of a belief that meeting the needs of others is essential to fulfilling our Christ-centered and Quaker commitments. Implicit in this goal is a desire to be purposeful about service opportunities provided as well as the nature of campus dialogue surrounding significant issues.

As a result of this exposure and dialogue, students develop a broadened perspective characterized by concern for the world’s poor and marginalized and a spirit of generosity toward others. In addition, students increasingly model a capacity for making reflective and responsible decisions regarding involvement and engagement with the broader community of which they are a part. This “ethic of service” and commitment to issues of peace and justice, based on the example and teachings of Jesus Christ, are integrated into students’ experiences on both a curricular and co-curricular level.

The George Fox community believes that all are gifted and ‘spiritually called’ to service in a needy world. Much effort is spent to identify the gifts of students, faculty, and staff, and to equip them for the tasks to which they have been called. Serving passionately within a person’s giftedness results in fruit such as love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that enriches the whole world.

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