Southern wears sack cloth and ashes after President Gordon Bietz announces retirement

Southern's President Gordon Bietz
Southern’s President Gordon Bietz
COLLEGEDALE, Tenn. — Students, faculty and staff of Southern Adventist University have begun a week of grieving in sack cloth and ashes after it was announced yesterday that Gordon Bietz, the school’s beloved 70-year-old president, plans to retire in 2016. Bietz has overseen an undeniably impressive transformation of the school over the course of his 19 years as president.

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Immediately after Bietz’s announcement to students of his plans to retire, discounted sack cloths and small tubs of ashes were made available at “mourning supply stations” across campus. Ash supplies were exhausted in less than an hour, prompting an emergency overnight delivery order to be placed for more stock from Southern California.

“We’re relaxing our dress code for the next week,” said university spokesperson Tanner Bigsy, shaking some ash out of his hair. “Everyone’s torn up about this news and we fully understand that it will reflect in the appearance of our students and employees.”

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Southern’s administrators have already launched a search process for a replacement for Bietz who doubled the school’s student population and oversaw $80 million worth of construction on the campus during his tenure. “It’s going to be a long, hard slog finding a new president,” said Bigsy. “There isn’t a tougher act to follow in all of Adventism.”


  1. Well, for once a story on Barely Adventist that is largely true. Dr. Bietz really did announce that he will retire in 2016, and the students and staff really are saddened. He really did accomplish some impressive improvements at Southern. He will be sorely missed and will be a tough act to follow. However, the part about sackcloth and ashes is a bit exaggerated. There is no need of such fashion statements in this day and age, where social media can fulfill the same purpose of publicly expressing remorse — and students immediately took to Twitter, Facebook, and other media yesterday to express their thoughts: “Bietz, don’t go!

  2. Ray Kraft

    Importing ashes from California?

    Ashes are so easy to make . . . you can burn wood, newspaper, you get ashes . . . didn’t Gordon Bietz teach ’em how to make ashes?

    Well, he’s not dead, just retiring, so now’s the time!

    And don’t they mean so much more when you make ’em yourself? And sackcloth? Aren’t there any empty chicken feed sacks lying about? Flour sacks?

    • Jesse Crane

      “Aren’t there any empty chicken feed sacks lying about?” Ray, what do you think Southern is, a farm? If they ever had a farm, I doubt they raised chickens. As for the “flout sacks,” that might be plausible, if they go down a few blocks to McKee’s Bakery. Maybe Will Ferrell (a/k/a “Little Debbie”) can sweet-talk brother McKee into making a donation.

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