Menjares inaugurated as FPU’s 11th president


Inauguration celebrations include song and praise from Psalm 84

By Wayne Steffen for Fresno Pacific University

“Better is one day in your courts
Better is one day in your house
Better is one day in your courts
Than thousands elsewhere”

“Better is One Day”—the song and the psalm that inspired it—summed up the week Pete C. Menjares, Ph.D., was inaugurated as the 11th president of Fresno Pacific University.

Inauguration events filled the schedule Monday through Friday, Sept. 24-28. The college community gathered Monday morning for Prayer at the Cross, a time of worship and prayer led by FPU faculty. Wednesday morning was the College Hour chapel and Thursday evening a banquet in honor of Menjares and his wife, Virginia, was held on the college green.

Crosswind, a student ensemble, performed “Better is One Day” at College Hour chapel Wednesday and the Thursday evening banquet.

Menjares made Psalm 84 the theme of his speech at the inauguration ceremony Friday morning. Robed in a cardinal red academic gown trimmed with gold, Menjares spoke to faculty, staff, administrators, students, community leaders and guests in the Special Events Center after receiving the presidential medallion from John Thiesen, chair of the FPU Board of Trustees.

In a speech titled “From Strength to Strength” and based on verse 7 of the psalm, Menjares spoke about the sources of strength God has put in his life, highlighted the strengths of Fresno Pacific and ended with a call for the university to use its strengths to better the world.

It is not on his strength but God’s that Menjares will be president of FPU. “My strength, my calling, my reason for being is found in him, symbolized by the reference in the psalm of longing for his house,” Menjares said.

God gives strength through people, Menjares said. “No one of us is capable enough, no one of us is bright enough, no one of us is good enough to do it on his own.”

Many of the people Menjares credited with giving him strength were in the audience. He mentioned family and friends and those who have been part of his faith journey, including Jim Ortiz, pastor of My New Friend’s House Church, and his wife, Yolie. Menjares called Ortiz “my father in the faith.”

Menjares also thanked former co-workers from Biola University, where he spent 18 years as a professor and administrator, and colleagues such as representatives of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

For its strength FPU can thank those Anabaptists that founded the university and with whom it is still affiliated.
“This humble group of Mennonite Brethren, speaking the German language, came to this Valley,” Menjares said.

They were not content to plant seeds in fields.

“Their gospel was a whole gospel that sought to fill the holes in the human condition,” he said.

The Mennonite Brethren sought to fill those holes through relief work, compassion ministry and the creation of Pacific Bible Institute in 1944 and Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in 1955. Today PBI is Fresno Pacific University, and MBBS is Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, a school of the university.

Menjares named four strengths of FPU:

  • Throughout its history, this institution has stayed true to its foundation—Jesus Christ. “Each generation of leaders has built upon the strengths of a previous generation,” he said.
  • FPU has a clear mission, vision and identity. “That foundation has been laid, the vision has been cast and the identity is not up for grabs,” he said.
  • The university has intentionally broadened its base to welcome students from 40 nations and all the diverse groups in the Valley. FPU is the first CCCU school to be named a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. “It is a wonderful testimony to the inclusive nature of this Christian community,” said Menjares.
  • The Fresno Pacific Idea, which calls the university to be Christian, a community of learners and prophetic.

In closing, Menjares called on faculty, deans and administrators to be experimental, innovative and creative. “Educational leaders are calling for a new renaissance, a new convergence of ideas that will be equal to the demands and challenges of the problems that plague our culture and indeed our world,” he said. “Where else can we look…than to our universities, our colleges and our seminaries?”

A celebration luncheon on the Campus Green followed the inauguration ceremony that included more than two-dozen dignitaries from around the country.



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