We are quickly coming to the close of Houghton’s 140th year of serving God and providing a high-quality Christian education for men and women. While, initially, Houghton was established to serve the people of Allegany County and Western New York, God has continued to expand its mission field. In 2023, Houghton provides an intentionally Christian educational experience for people from diverse walks of life from all parts of the nation and around the globe and sends its graduates forth to have transformational impact for Christ in fields as diverse as medicine, ministry, computer science, writing, education, equestrian management and the arts. What a blessing it is to continue to be used by God for His purposes.
As Houghton holds fast to its historic mission, remaining firmly planted in Biblical truth and centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I am convinced that God’s direction in this season is clear—to boldly disciple, nurture and equip students for the work He is calling them to. Students’ callings are diverse, but wherever they are being called, Houghton provides students with a form of education that is distinct from what they would receive at a secular institution.
On the surface, Houghton might appear to be more similar to its secular peers than it is in reality. But it is not Houghton’s areas of study, facilities or athletics offerings that make it a Christ-centered institution. For that matter, it is not the presence of ministry programs, a physical chapel space or even a chapel attendance requirement that makes Houghton what it is. What makes Houghton foundationally different from its secular peers is its unshakeable and unashamed commitment to Biblical doctrine and its integration of a traditional Biblical worldview with an academically challenging curriculum. It is not the fact that Houghton was founded by a Christian denomination. Nor is it a commitment to the development of moral, ethical and upstanding citizens. Obviously, those attributes are positive, and we want Houghton graduates to live in such a way. But moral and ethical behavior grow out of a Christ-centered heart and life (Galatians 5:22-23). Neither behavior nor good works is a substitute for redemption through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). Houghton exists to equip and prepare its students to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ; to live as faithful scholar-servants; and to have a transformative impact on the world for Christ through their family lives, service and vocations. It does so with humility, but fearlessly, unashamedly and unapologetically.
In addition to students enrolled in baccalaureate and graduate degree programs, in this season, Houghton is privileged to partner with Christian high schools and homeschooling families in New York, across the U.S. and internationally in providing dual-enrollment and early college coursework. Houghton now directly serves more high school students with Christ-centered, academically challenging courses than at any other point in the university’s history with 30 current partner Christian schools who share its mission and commitment to Christ-centered excellence. What an incredible opportunity these partnerships have provided for Houghton to work shoulder to shoulder with homeschooling families and leaders and staff in Christian high schools to provide high school students with transferable college course credit and prepare them for successful transitions to college. Societal change and increased open hostility toward traditional Christian beliefs in the U.S. has resulted in some historic Christian institutions losing or loosening their Christian identity or changing their policies and positions to better align with mainstream sentiment and dominant culture. I respect the right of institutions, Christian or otherwise, to chart their own course and make changes to their missions and identity. Houghton’s mission, identity, commitments and convictions, however, remain unchanged. Why? Because even with ever-shifting cultural and societal winds, God remains the same, and Biblical truth is unchanged. As with previous generations, God is speaking to the hearts and minds of young people in a voice they can hear and understand, but the pure, unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ remains powerful and potent. Jesus says in John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” With faith in our hearts that the Word of God is true, Houghton will continue to proclaim Jesus, the only hope for the redemption of humanity in a lost and dying world. The Gospel will continue to beckon men and women to repentance, salvation through faith and transformed lives in Christ in New York and far beyond.
About the Author
Dr. Wayne D. Lewis, Jr. became the sixth president of Houghton University in June 2021 after serving as the inaugural Dean of the School of Education at Belmont University and recently renewed his contract with unanimous support from the board of trustees. During his first years at Houghton, Dr. Lewis emphasized a strong commitment to students and employees. The University achieved several significant milestones under his leadership—including achieving a new name, Houghton University; streamlining the academic structure; and initiating the development of a future-focused strategic plan. Read more about President Lewis.