A Transformational Event

Posted by Paula Paine on May 23, 2011 in "adventures in faith", Alumni, College, Events, "School of Arts and Sciences" The 12th annual Adventures in Faith event was combined in March with the inaugural event of the Fredrikson Center for Faith and Church Vitality – a conference on The Church as “Transformational” Community. It turned out to be a heavenly union. Originally scheduled for February 1, 2 and 3, the paired events had to be postponed until March 1, 2 and 3 due to a blizzard that swept a large portion of the country. The timing was perfect, however. “I find it interesting that God designed the first church conference to take place just after a spiritual awakening took place on campus,” said Campus Pastor Bud McCluney. “What better place to get pastors fired up than a place where the Spirit of God is moving! I hope the pastors who attended took part of the Spirit home with them to begin an awakening in their own churches.” Church renewal through events such as the conference has been a longing of Center namesake Rev. Dr. Roger Fredrikson ’42 for many years. “On every hand, there is a longing for a deeper intimacy with Christ – for a spirit of love and power to surge through congregational life,” said Fredrikson. “This we cannot encourage or program, but we can join together in opening our lives to what God can do – to enter into disciplines of grace that we might become more like Jesus. These hours together were that kind of experience.” The inaugural conference was attended by 30 pastors and lay leaders who came from as far away as North Carolina and Oklahoma. It consisted of worship, presentations, workshops, and breakout sessions, followed by personal discussions with keynote speakers Margaret and Justin Campbell. The Campbells have served as lay leaders at Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, for more than 30 years. Margaret has been a member of the Renovaré Ministry Team since 1999 and currently chairs its board of trustees. Drawing from the Renovaré (to be renovated/changed) literature that is based on the spiritual disciplines outlined by author Richard Foster, Justin has written a 33-week curriculum on discipleship entitled “Taking Hold of the With-God Life.” Together the couple also wrote a six-week study and devotional guide, “Coming Home to God Our Dwelling Place.” They utilized both as resources for the conference. Justin has practiced as a civil trial lawyer since 1973. The impact of the church conference was compounded by the simultaneous ministry to campus students through the Adventures in Faith event. Seven speakers, six of them alumni, came to The College for the sole purpose of interacting with students and sharing their career, life and faith experiences. Shawn Gardner is an OU-Indiana alumnus ’08 who was on The College campus for the first time. “Coming to Adventures in Faith was the greatest experience I’ve had at OU,” said Gardner. “Had I not come here, my degree would have been just a degree. But now that I’ve seen the original campus, the dedication of the faculty and alumni and the Christian nature of the school, I have an OTTAWA degree. We need to figure out how to package this experience for OU’s adult students!” Gardner operates a nonprofit fatherhood initiative in Louisville, Kentucky, called 2NOT1: Fatherhood and Families, to address the issue of absentee fathers.   Jane Smith ’65 visited a couple of classes with Gardner. With 12 years of experience teaching child development and family living classes within the public school system, she worked with many teen and single parents. “The concern we both had for parents and their roles with their children all came together in a special way, and yet we couldn’t have more diverse backgrounds,” said Smith, who has also been heavily involved in American Baptist Women’s Ministries over the years. She is married to Rev. Warren Smith ’65. Millie Edwards Nottingham ’76 was very involved in music during her time at Ottawa University. Since graduating, she has sung in a Top 40 band and become a highly sought-after jazz and blues vocalist in the Kansas City area. She also worked for AT&T for 24 years, primarily in management. Nottingham graced conference and AIF attendees with her beautiful voice during the inauguration service on March 1. “The experience that made me come here in 1974, switching from a Presbyterian school that I had already sent my $100 deposit to, is the same experience that keeps students coming today,” said Reverend Tim Malone ’78, who spoke in several religion classes. “It’s a decision I never regretted.” Malone is the pastor of Multicultural Christian Church in Davis, California, and the campus and community outreach minister for the University of California at Davis. He is married to former OU™ student Chai- Wei Sun.   Coach Mel Tjeerdsma's coaching career spanned 35-years at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, Austin College in Sherman, Texas, and Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Missouri. Tjeerdsma spoke to the Braves football team and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes while on campus. Other alumni speakers included Randy Rush ’76, co-founder of Integrity Bank & Trust of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and David Losh’71, MD and professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. “The thing that I noticed on campus that was really encouraging was the courtesy of the students. They said thank you, talked to you, looked you in the eye. I enjoyed the classes with them,” said Rush. “I tried to instill in them the importance of hard work and rigor in their studies,” said Losh. “We had some good conversations about things ranging from the current healthcare system to things they’re doing in their classes. I have this sneaking suspicion that it was also helpful to the faculty. I was validating things they emphasized in their classes, which gave them a little encouragement with what they’re doing.” Losh shared a particularly poignant part of his personal faith journey during the closing program for Adventures in Faith, which took place on Thursday during the regularly scheduled Chapel service (view at www.ottawaspirit.com). Each member of the AIF team shared a segment of their journeys, touching many in attendance with their stories. The event was concluded with a Communion Service.   Following the event, McCluney shared the impact that Adventures in Faith had on one student. “This particular student said they hoped they could come back to OU at some point to share their story with students because after four years of listening to AIF speakers, it had helped them to understand they can live out their faith wherever they are or whatever they are doing.” Transformation accomplished.