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First President’s Chapel Introduces New Theme of the Year: Christ Our Greatest Friend

News Sept. 1, 2023

On Aug. 30, Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño welcomed students, faculty, and staff to the 2023-24 academic year at Cornerstone University and unveiled a new theme for fall chapel messages: Christ Our Greatest Friend. Based on John 15:13-14, the theme build’s upon last year’s exploration of Christ the Greatest Influencer.

During the fall semester’s inaugural chapel gathering, the Cornerstone learning community and guests filled Christ Chapel to capacity as the incoming class of 2027 joined returning students for inspirational worship led by Dr. Desmond Ikegwuonu, associate professor of music and director of worship arts, and student musicians. Following the worship set and a corporate prayer offered by Tate Radaz, the newly appointed director of chapel ministries and spiritual formation, President Moreno-Riaño spoke about the importance of friendships for humans who are created in the image of God as relational beings and highlighted unparalleled examples of true friendship from the life of Jesus Christ.

“Jesus met and fulfilled the demands of friendship,” said President Moreno-Riaño. “He is the perfect model of friendship, and He is the one who can empower us to be true friends with each other.”

Amidst research and data on the rising cultural crisis of loneliness, President Moreno-Riaño noted these key findings:

  • According to Dr. Vivek H. Murphy in “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation” (2023), “One-in-two adults in America reported experiencing loneliness.”
  • In an article by Daniel A. Cox (2021) based on research conducted by the Survey Center on American Life, only 59% of Americans reported having a best friend in 2021.
  • Data from The Cigna Group indicates that more than half of men and women are impacted by loneliness (2021).

“The LORD made us to be together—first with Him and then with each other,” concluded President Moreno-Riaño. “He meets the demands of friendship because He lays down His life. He’s the perfect model and the source of our ability to be friends. We have to learn to model what Jesus modeled toward Him and toward each other. It’s only through the power of the Holy Spirit, faith and humble hearts that this can happen.”

Upcoming President’s Chapel messages will further consider the characteristics and demands of Biblical friendship among individuals invited to live in and contribute to a flourishing community together.

Watch a video recording of the President’s Chapel message from Aug. 30, 2023, below. To listen to additional chapel messages and receive notifications of new messages in the series, follow Cornerstone University Chapel on Spotify and CornerstoneU on YouTube.


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