For the first time in 17 months, the Biola University Community gathered together in the center of campus on Metzger Lawn for an in-person outdoor Convocation chapel on Monday, August 30. Biola President Barry H. Corey welcomed students, faculty and staff to the Fall 2021 semester from a stage in front of Calvary Chapel. He encouraged the Biola community by reminding them that despite the difficulties the past year and a half have presented, God is at work in the midst of pain toward something glorious. 

Image shows André Stephens speaking on stage at the Fall 2021 Convocation Chapel
André Stephens speaking on stage at the Fall 2021 Convocation Chapel

A total of 1,575 undergraduate and graduate students started their collegiate journey at Biola University on the first day of classes on Monday, August 30. President Corey addressed the students, who represent 44 countries and 41 states and U.S. territories.

Referencing Nehemiah 8:1-12, Corey explained that the people in Nehemiah were exiting a long exile, which was a dark, discouraging time for them, comparing it to the quarantine the world has experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Biola, don’t overprescribe what it might look like for you coming out of this hard season, because if you do, you may be missing something far bigger that God is up to. The people of Nehemiah’s day were coming out of exile — and we’re coming out of a type of exile,” said Corey.

Biola faculty and staff have engaged in 120 days of prayer and fasting leading up to the Fall 2021 semester. Corey likened these days to the four months Nehemiah spent in prayer for restoration of his community. He compared the long-anticipated return of students, faculty and staff to Biola’s campus to the weary return of people in exile to their city in Nehemiah. However, he emphasized that God has grander plans for his people than merely returning to be in community together again.

Corey said, “Don’t be limited to human-sized dreams when God may have for you something far more glorious.”

Encouraging the chapel attendees to answer the biblical call to action to go beyond oneself to serve and love other people now that campus has filled with students again, Corey referred to Nehemiah 8:10: “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.”

“God said to them, ‘give of your best for those who have less.’ This is the biblical response to that great assembly,” said Corey. “We gather so we can scatter, and as we scatter we find those who need something from us. There are those who need you on this campus and beyond. Be Christ to them in the words you share, in the way you love, in how and who you befriend, in ways you give.”

Corey ended his address by singing the refrain, “Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on us. Break us. Melt us. Mold us. Fill us. Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on us.”

The theme of this year’s Chapel Programs is Know/n, drawing upon several verses in the Bible about being fully known by God and knowing him, such as 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see only a reflection, as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” This year’s chapel theme invites the Biola community into a biblical landscape of words, images, and ideas filled with Presence. This year, chapels will explore what has always been true, the twin truths of knowing and being known by God.

Students can view the full chapel schedule and read more about chapel opportunities on campus by visiting the Chapel Schedule

Written by Sarah Dougher, media relations coordinator and administrative assistant to the senior director of university communications. For more information, contact Sarah at (562) 906-4524 or