Celebrating More Than a Birthday

By Dr. April Moreton
12/20/2018 6:00:00 AM

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When the great leader Joshua instructed the Israelites to pause and honor a great milestone in their journey, he had them place stones marking where they had crossed the mighty Jordan River on dry land. They were to remember the great work God had done and was about to do in the lives of his people. 

In just a few short weeks, JBU will do likewise – setting aside the upcoming year to pause and honor a significant milestone: the great work God has done through JBU over the last 100 years, and the anticipation of what he will do in the century to come. 

When the JBU community returns from the holiday season, 2000 West University St. will look and feel different. It will be the beginning of a yearlong celebration that recognizes God’s great blessings to JBU – the thousands of individuals who have experienced life change through JBU; the students who have become alumni and now serve across the globe; the faculty who have poured wisdom into those students; the staff and administration who serve because JBU’s mission to prepare people to honor God and serve others resonates with their souls. 

How does one adequately celebrate such a milestone birthday? All year long! Starting in January, faculty, staff and students will launch the celebration with a campus adorned with the Centennial logo, the release of the book “Christ Over All: A History of John Brown University,” a student-led t-shirt design competition reveal, cake, worship and more cake. 

Throughout the spring, chapel will highlight alumni whose time at JBU directly impacted their life callings, focusing on the Head, Heart, Hand motto. A couple notables include Joe Walenciak, dean of the Soderquist College of Business, who will share the story of the Walton Scholars Program and how it changed his life. Also, Billy Stevenson, Director of International Admissions and Student Services, will walk through the Irish Studies program, intertwining its history with his personal testimony in another spring chapel. 

The JBU Alumni Relations Office will take the celebration on the road for special alumni events in Texas, California, Colorado and Missouri. Even commencement in May will look different. The class of 1969, who will be celebrating their 50th anniversary, will lead the processional for this historic year. This graduation will also reveal a revised alma mater – the well-known melody with updated lyrics to reflect JBU’s 100 years of influence. 

But the big celebration – one you will not want to miss – will be Homecoming 2019 when JBU officially turns 100 on Sept. 29. This four-day celebration begins on Thursday, Sept. 26, as the university officially completes its historic $125 million Campaign for the Next Century. This campaign has raised JBU’s endowment to an all-time high of $120 million, renovated or built new buildings across campus, increased scholarships so that students are better able to afford JBU and grown resources to support faculty in their pursuit of excellence in teaching and research. What better way to celebrate God’s financial blessings than during the university’s centennial? The generosity of many has made JBU a financially solid institution. For this, we are grateful. 

Following the campaign celebration, Homecoming officially begins on Friday with campuswide activities including an alumni chapel and opening of the time capsule. Later that evening, a yet-to-be revealed guest artist will perform a concert in Bill George Arena for alumni and the community. Student Events & Activities will host a student party on the quad. On Saturday, alumni can attend expanded class reunions, athletic events, and a special Centennial Showcase that evening. There will be something for everyone!

On Sunday morning – JBU’s actual birthday – President Pollard will host a communitywide worship service celebrating God’s faithfulness through the years and then turn our focus to JBU’s future. Afterward, JBU’s famous chicken dinner will be served on the quad. What better way to celebrate God’s faithfulness to JBU than through worship, fellowship and great food? 

Activities will continue throughout the fall of 2019 and culminate at JBU’s Candlelight Service in December. This beautiful celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior is a fitting end to JBU’s milestone birthday as it focuses our hearts and minds on the giver of all good things, Jesus. Truly, it is for his glory and purposes that the university was founded. And through him, it continues to pursue Christ Over All. We have much for which to be grateful. 

What an honor to be a part of JBU for such a time as this. 100 years. It’s not every day that one can celebrate such a milestone birthday. Make plans now to join us for this once-in-a-lifetime Centennial Homecoming. Not only will you reminisce, you’ll be a part of history as JBU enters its next century.

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