Reflections on My Relationship with Ottawa UniversityPosted by Paula Paine on July 7, 2014 in "Your OU" Executive Minister of American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin Rev. Dr. Arlo R. Reichter was recently recognized by faculty and staff of OU-WI for his long-standing relationship with the Wisconsin campus. Rev. Reichter was honored at a luncheon and presented the gift of a brick for the walkway of the Gibson Student Center. He was asked to reflect on his long relationship with the campus.
While the request regarding my relationship with OU/Wisconsin was no doubt for the period in which I have served as Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin (3/1/2001—7/31/2014), no answer would be complete without some perspective.
My family have been American Baptists for several generations and I grew up in an ABC church in Iowa. There I learned about two ABC-related liberal arts colleges—Ottawa and Sioux Falls. These were my choices for my undergraduate study. My very “deep” reason for selecting Sioux Falls was that it was 200 miles from where my high school sweetheart was and Ottawa was 400 miles. We were married the year before my senior year at Sioux Falls (that was 46 years ago).
In Sioux Falls, Dr. Roger Fredrikson was pastor at First Baptist Church and he, of course, had significant Ottawa connections, and so I learned more about OU. My first ministry was at First Baptist Church of Los Angeles, and in the summer of 1976 I brought a group of youth back to the Midwest; the trip included a visit to OU/Kansas.
After Los Angeles, I served on the staff of the American Baptist Assembly in Green Lake, WI. Through that work, I met Dr. and Mrs. Hal Germer (former OU President). Laura Germer’s father was the founding director of Green Lake, and so once again I learned more about OU.
Once I began my ministry as Executive Minister in Wisconsin following a 7 ½ year pastorate in Anderson, IN, my initial contact with OU was a phone call about a potential graduation location. The site that had been used (an ABC church) was simply no longer large enough. Unfortunately, I did not have another workable alternative. About a year after we had moved back, new neighbors moved into our condo complex—Dr. and Mrs. Don Clauser, and so a direct OU/Wisconsin relationship began. It is interesting to note that Dr. Joyce Caldwell and I first met at meetings of the Wisconsin Council of Churches before her work at OU began.
When the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin co-founded with Central Baptist Theological Seminary what is now known as Central Baptist Theological Seminary/Wisconsin, there were conversations with OU on several levels. One was the possibility of using classroom space, which was and still is a live option. Another was our ability to refer students who complete a Diploma in Theological Studies (accredited bachelor level courses) to OU for degree completion work. On both counts OU has been receptive and supportive.
At several times the OU staff and OU alumni association board have utilized meeting space in the office building of ABC/Wisconsin located only blocks from the OU Brookfield campus. The ABC/WI Board of Managers held a meeting at OU in my attempt to make more American Baptists aware of this ABC-related education resource. OU also was invited to have an exhibit at the ABC/WI annual meeting.
Kindly, OU invited me to lead the Invocation at the 2014 graduation ceremony (and several others), the dedication of the Executive Drive location, the 20th anniversary celebration, and an alumni gathering.
I celebrate what God is doing in and through Ottawa University in all its locations. I value the leadership of President Dr. Kevin Eichner and Wisconsin Campus Executive Officer Dr. Wade Mauland. Thanks for the memories of being able to participate together in the mission of education.