Though Will Jones is new to Bethany College, he is already leading students by example.

Though Will Jones is new to Bethany College, he is already leading students by example.

The 14th president of the college started his first year by calling students to be servant leaders at Friday’s opening convocation in Presser Hall. There he washed the feet of Bryanna Taylor, a Bethany College senior from Monrovia, California.

“I want to be a servant leader,” Jones said. “As someone who sincerely desires to follow Christ, and as a public statement of my hope that Bethany College will be a college committed to seeing our students becoming successful graduates who love God and love people, I want my actions to speak louder than my words today.”

Jones called students to wash each others feet, a sign of humility and service to the needs of others over personal needs. Dozens of students and faculty gathered at the college’s fountains to participate.

During the convocation, Jones explained that after growing up in traumatic poverty in Kentucky, he grew to realize the importance of higher learning and connecting with others.

“Deep down, folks want to be great and make a difference, but baggage keeps them from serving. When we meet the needs of others, we heal ourselves,” Jones explained.

The act of demonstrating leadership through foot-washing reflects the words of Jesus in the biblical book of Matthew, as well as Martin Luther King Jr. Foot-washing has been performed by religious organizations for thousands of years to focus leaders on those they serve.

“It’s an important year for the college and all of us want to be the best version of ourselves and servant leadership develops that best version. If we humble ourselves as servants to heal and help in members of our student body and local community, then Bethany College will be a successful place,” Jones said. “Let’s tell the wider world that Bethany College dares to be servant leaders.”

Bethany College began classes Thursday with the largest freshman class in more than 15 years. According to preliminary registration numbers, this year’s group of 288 new students, which includes freshman and transfer students, is also the largest in more than 20 years.

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