‘Rose Sunday’ marks new year at Judson

Published 12:54 am Sunday, September 6, 2009

Participants in Judson College’s 94th annual “Rose Sunday” service on Aug. 24 were happy to find a cool and clear summer morning as they walked the few blocks from the college to Siloam Baptist Church.

Students donned white gloves and many wore hats for the traditional processional and worship service marking the commencement of the new academic year, which began the previous week.

Rose Sunday was first observed on Sept. 19, 1915, but has its origins much earlier in a practice begun by the founder and first college president Milo P. Jewett. Jewett underscored the value of worship by walking with students to Siloam every Sunday.

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Judson seniors began the day, appropriately, in front of Jewett Hall, by passing through a woven ivy chain, crafted and held by the underclassmen in their honor — another long-standing tradition at the college. Each senior wore her academic regalia and a single red rose — the college’s signature flower.

Judson president Dr. David Potts led the procession to the church for worship.

Members of Siloam Baptist Church met earlier in the day to accommodate the Judson students, faculty and staff at the traditional late morning worship time, and Siloam pastor, the Rev. Scott Schuyler, welcomed the Judson students and staff to the church.

After music by the college’s concert choir, Potts delivered his annual address. He brought laughter from the crowd with his traditional reading of some “general regulations” from early college catalogues.

Students had to have permission from the principal to leave campus, to receive any magazines or newspapers and to open accounts in Marion. Letters were subject to inspection unless written to parents or guardians, and two offenses merited expulsion: dipping snuff and “communicating with unmarried gentlemen.”

Potts then turned to the purpose of the day.

He noted that Bill Hull in his new book, “Harbingers of Hope,” argued that everything Jesus did had the “note of immediacy.”

“Without ever once becoming frantic or impulsive, (Jesus) nevertheless precipitated a spiritual showdown without delay,” Hull wrote.

Potts said the founders of Judson College, Milo Parker Jewett, Julia Tarrant Barron and Edwin D. King, felt a similar sense of Christ’s urgency.

“In the span of only seven years, our founders and other good members of Siloam Baptist Church with the anointing of the Spirit, founded Judson College, Samford University (Howard College), the Alabama Baptist newspaper (Southwest Baptist Newspaper) and the North American Mission Board (The Domestic Board of Missions),” Potts said.

“These institutions have touched the lives of people, a number that cannot be numbered, for Christ.”

Potts told the audience the fable of three demons, which met to discuss how to destroy Christianity.

One said, “Tell them there is no God.” The second said, “Tell them there is no sin.” But the third said, “Tell them there is no hurry.”

“Children in poverty need Jesus,” Potts said. “They need better education, better health care and better futures. Our elderly are often lonely and neglected. They need Christ’s presence and our kindness. There are songs to be written, books to be authored and relationships to be restored. There are cures to be found, students to be taught and broken families to be mended. There are souls in darkness waiting for the Light. There are churches to start and ministries to begin, all in the name of Christ.”

Potts urged the class of 2009 to follow Christ and the founders of the college to demonstrate a sense of urgency in the work of Christ.