5 Years: Looking Back

5 years of creative leadership, Spirit-led discernment, and Christ-centered community- building. Also 5 years of joyous piano playing, festive suits, and thoughtful and intentional care. This coming March, we enthusiastically celebrate 5 years of President Ronald Matthews, Eastern’s 10th president. To mark this milestone, we reached out to President Matthews to hear his reflections on the past 5 years and his hopes for the next 5.

Q: How have you grown in the past 5 years?
A: For most of my life and by God's grace and mercy, I have been aware of my dependency on God. This role as president has provided an increasingly conscious dependency on God for pretty much everything. Eastern is such an amazing place where I find multiple blessings in serving with and learning from our community. To work with such great people, including our Cabinet, our Leadership Team, our Board of Trustees, our Faculty and Staff, our Alumni and Donors, and our Students, evokes joy and awe in the mystery of God's will and call in my life.

Q: How has the EU community impacted you?
A: I have been shaped by EU since 1992 when I came to Eastern. I had never seen or been a part of a Christian community that disagreed so well. The energizing conversations, arguments, and positions were stimulating, motivating, respectful, and edifying. I was so honored and grateful to become a part of a tradition and community of diverse, godly, and brilliant thinkers and practitioners. I have been able to learn from alumni and colleagues who have impacted communities by asking and addressing hard questions, developing creative options and directions, and sharing the love and values of Jesus and the Kingdom of God generously and beyond convenience.

Q: How is Eastern impacting the world?
A: When I think of EU and the world, I think of our timely and timeless mission of Faith, Reason, and Justice. Eastern people have the courage to love God and love our
neighbors, including our enemies. We want to exhibit, experience, and work for the unity for which Jesus prayed, for the deep and eternal ties of belonging together. We prioritize faith-shaped opportunities and Kingdom risks over reputation and, at times, even resources. We have alumni all over the world doing known and unknown work for the benefit of others in Jesus' name. The diversity and variety of people, relationships, programs, and services, all contribute in some mystical way to what Isaiah witnessed when he heard the angels calling back and forth, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of God's glory."

Q: Any final thoughts you'd like to share?
A: Everything stems from "God so loved the world." God gave; God gives. God gave a member of the divine, intimate, triune relationship. God gives the capacity to believe. God gave us the Word in flesh, scripture, and sacrament. God gives abundant and eternal life. I hope we remain a compassionate community of Spirit-led, skilled, humble, and passionate people who revel in God and serve everyone entrusted to us.

This article was originally featured in the Fall 2022 Edition of Eastern Magazine. View the full magazine here.