Bill Cario at Opening Service

Concordia University Ann Arbor's 59th academic year has officially begun, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen!

On Monday, August 30, 2021, CUAA celebrated the beginning of its 59th academic year with an Opening Chapel Service. The year’s academic theme All-Surpassing Savior has been selected to guide the campus throughout the months to come.

The Opening Chapel Service includes an installation of CUAA’s new faculty members, recognition of new professional staff, and this year, the premiere of a hymn written by Stephen Starke commissioned specifically for Concordia University’s 2021-22 academic year.

Interim President Dr. William Cario shared the service’s message. Here are three key takeaways from Dr. Cario’s message as you prepare for the year ahead.

1. God doesn’t give up on us. Ever.

With all of the pain and brokenness swirling around us, how on Earth can we start the school year with any sense of optimism, or any sense of hope? We’re surrounded by polarization and isolation. Perhaps you, too, feel a bit broken or shattered. The universality of sin ensures that we all get to do some suffering.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

The apostle Paul’s phrases describe the messiness of the Christian life, at least in this world. It is a messy thing. But in the end, we have victory. Satan has already been defeated. God demonstrates his overwhelming love for us by no abandoning us. He transcends tiredness, weakness, and sinfulness. He does not give up on you or me.

2. God cares for his people by shaping and molding them.

But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

We see in the Wisconsin campus’ theme verses from Isaiah how God demonstrated his love for the Old Testament people, the children of Israel. Isaiah proclaimed these words to a people with a very long history of rebellion against God, but he did not disregard them as broken or misshapen. Instead, He took them as they were. God shaped them toward repentance, reshaped them over and over again to be His people.

He never gave up on them. That’s the same promise God gives us today. God demonstrates His overwhelming love for us by not abandoning us despite our continual efforts to abandon him. He cares for us by molding and shaping us.

3. We can begin this school year with hope!

We may not have specific solutions for any of our problems. We have hope because we have a Savior who has redeemed us and saved us. He is actively involved in shaping and molding our lives. That’s what a Concordia education is all about!

As we look ahead, we know that we can depend on our All Surpassing Savior to take on the year and the challenges ahead—with hope!

May God grant us the strength, perseverance, and joy in that work. Amen!

More photos from Concordia’s 2021-22 Opening Chapel Service

Opening Chapel Service 2021

Opening Chapel Service 2021

Opening Chapel Service 2021

CUAA’s Daily Chapel takes place each weekday at 10:30 a.m. Learn more about Christian Life at Concordia University Ann Arbor.

— Rachel Thoms served on Concordia University's Strategic Communications team from 2015-2022. Any inquiries about this story can be sent to

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