The Loma Linda University School of Dentistry’s annual Student Dedication Service was held at the LLU Church on February 26, 2016, at 5:00 pm, during the School’s 56th Alumni Student Convention. The Student Dedication Service is a high moment for LLUSD’s doctor of dental surgery and dental hygiene classes during which first year students receive a Bible embossed with their names and graduating students are given personally monogrammed white coats.
The procession of faculty was led by LLU Provost Ronald Carter, PhD, carrying the University Mace and welcoming the School of Dentistry family and friends with the reminder that the two symbols on the mace—a Bible and rays of light—represent the dedication of students to service and to learning. Dean Ronald Dailey, PhD, offered an introductory prayer; and musical praise, His Love All Over the World, was rendered by an instrumental ensemble of dental students. Chris Oberg, DMin, senior pastor, La Sierra University Church, spoke to the gathering in an address entitled, The Dental Professional Near You. Pastor Oberg developed her message from the minor prophet Amos’ fourth chapter which she said contains the greatest concentration of bad news in the Bible, including from verse six: “And I have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities,” which meant nobody had food to eat.
Along the way, Pastor Oberg’s listeners learned that her father, LLUSD alumnus LeRoy Nelson, DDS’61, practiced dentistry in the Camas-Washougal, Washington, communities for almost 40 years during which he treated many Russian immigrants who could hardly afford to pay, and that her sister is LLUSD Department of Pediatric Dentistry chair, Bonnie Nelson, DDS’88. But Pastor Oberg’s primary message was her interpretation of Amos: “You are so blessed you have forgotten your obligations . . . and,” consequently, “Yaweh sends droughts, insects, and ‘cleanness of teeth.’” “You have your four bathrooms, your $40,000 cars and your hundreds of thousands in tuition, so that you can be your own boss, so you can leave room for dessert. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the world goes hungry,” Pastor Oberg applied the prophet’s message. “We need to read Amos alongside Daniel and Revelation,” she insisted. Our job is to imagine heaven on earth.” Pastor Oberg concluded, “Let justice and mercy flow; and, along the way, take care of some teeth.” Shelley Hayton, BS’82 (DH), MAT, assistant professor, Department of Dental Hygiene, followed the presentation of bibles and white coats with a prayer of dedication after which all students and dental professionals were led in reciting the Dental Pledge by Gary Kerstetter, DDS’82, director, Service Learning. A vocal ensemble of 34 LLUSD students performed Crystal Lewis’ musical praise entitled, I Will Go; and Scott C. Smith, DDS’09, director, Spiritual Life & Diversity, pronounced the benediction.