stories | Alumni

80th Anniversary Homecoming Highlights

November 5, 2018 | Rebecca Au-Mullaney

On October 26-27, alumni gathered in Manhattan to celebrate the 80th Anniversary Homecoming of The King’s College. Alumni from the last six decades attended, with a large contingent of 1978 alumni and bordering classes celebrating 40 years since graduation.

Homecoming festivities began Friday, October 26, with a welcome reception in the O’Keeffe Student Union. Between connecting with classmates and meeting other alumni, attendees heard brief remarks from President Tim Gibson, Chief Operating Officer Kevin Brown, and Chris Ross (’10), the outgoing president of the Alumni Association Executive Committee.

Gibson shared how he initially became connected to King’s as a father of a student, Jessica Gibson (’16), and volunteered as a member of the Parents Advisory Council before joining the administration as an executive vice president in 2016.

Ross introduced the Alumni Association Executive Committee elections, with voting taking place that evening and the following day. For at least the last eight years, candidates have run unopposed, Ross said. This year, both Rick Millham (’90) and Sarah (Ferrara) Keenan (’12) ran for president. Ross also explained the proposed changes to the Alumni Association Executive Committee constitution and bylaws, which were proposed to better reflect the actual practices of the committee in coordination with the College. Another significant change is that terms have been extended to three years to allow representatives and officers more time to accomplish what they set out to do in their platforms. After votes were tallied on Saturday, Keenan became the incoming alumni association president, Lynn (Albanese) Mitchell (’86) began a term as representative, Ross was confirmed as secretary, and the amendments to the constitution and bylaws passed. See a complete list of officers and representatives.

Finally, Brown introduced the new Alumni Giving Society, which offers four levels of monthly giving and confers privileges and benefits at each level. Brown explained that while many colleges encourage alumni to give, up until this year King’s has not had a formalized society to honor regular donors. He encouraged alumni to participate at any level, since the percent of alumni who give is used to calculate a college’s ranking by U.S. News and World Report. After the program, the admissions department led optional tours of the campus and classmates resumed conversations.

Despite Saturday’s stormy weather, there was a strong showing of alumni at the next day’s yacht luncheon. The Sensation Yacht departed from Chelsea Piers, rounded the southern tip of Manhattan with views of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, turned up the East River under the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, and then re-traced its path back up the Hudson. After a tea, coffee, and hors d’oeuvre reception, alumni sat for lunch at tables sorted by class year.

Ross introduced the 2018 alumni awards during the lunch program. (Read full bios of each alumni award winner.) Jordan (’05) and Katie (’06) Fischer won the J. Stanley Oakes award, given in honor of their pioneering work caring for refugees in the Denver area. The Fischers were not able to attend, but they sent remarks, reprinted below:

It is a special honor to receive this award as we have tremendous love and appreciation for Stan and Ginger Oakes and all they have contributed to our lives.

During our time at The King’s College, we were able to experience the joys and excitement, and sometimes struggles, of being part of something new. It was a place where people from very diverse backgrounds came together on the common ground of a love for Jesus and a love for the city. This cross cultural experience allowed us to see God not just through our own lenses, but in a more complete way. We learned a lot about start-ups, nonprofits, and people, which greatly contributed to our initiation of Hope In Our City in 2014.

Hope In Our City is a Christian non profit that builds relationships in refugee neighborhoods in Denver to foster healthy community and make generational impact. Through friendships, we’ve found that all other needs come into clearer view.  We believe that God is providing a unique opportunity by bringing many people from closed countries to the U.S. from places like Somalia and Iraq where we are not allowed to go and openly share the Gospel. By loving our neighbor in our own backyard we are able to reach the world with the Good News of Jesus.

While Katie has always had a heart for foreigners, it has been a growing process for Jordan. Jordan has learned a lot through the study of God’s heart for foreigners as well as through four years of building mutually benefiting relationships with Muslims. He has found God’s heart is clear for us to love our neighbors. Jordan has also seen God’s heart for himself, as his time with Hope In Our City has shown him that rather than being a totally put together person who helps those who are not put together, we are all equally in need of God’s great mercy and love and the assistance and love of others.

We are continually learning and are so thankful for all the lessons we received from our time at The King’s College and our friendship with the Oakes.

Tom and his wife Lois (’76) spent over thirty years planting churches in Zimbabwe with The Evangelical Alliance Mission.

Steve French (NBC ’80) and Donna-Jean Breckenridge (NBC ’79) presented the Charles W. Anderson award to Northeastern Bible College graduate Tom Jackson (’74). Tom and his wife Lois (’76) spent over thirty years planting churches in Zimbabwe with The Evangelical Alliance Mission. From 2006 to 2015, the Jacksons returned to the United States as Tom served in finance at The Evangelical Alliance Mission’s office in Carol Stream, Ill. “What really got our attention was what he did next,” Breckenridge said. In May 2015, at a time in their lives when they could have retired, the Jacksons accepted an invitation to return to Zimbabwe to connect city churches with rural congregations, “helping the church to be the church.”

Pastor Doug Hautz (’84) converted his church to a shelter for the homeless in Ormond Beach, Fla.

The 2018 Alumnus of the Year award was presented to Doug Hautz (’84), whose work serving the homeless in Ormond Beach, Fla. has drawn the attention of church and city leaders alike. Hautz’s wife, Karen, nominated her husband for the award, and Ross read aloud from her nomination letter: “His work with the homeless has been recognized by more people of the world than in the Christian community. In January 2018 he was honored by the Daytona Beach Chapter of the AFL-CIO for his work. The mayors of three local cities along with their police departments seek him out. He is on the local board to end homelessness. He is relentless in his love for people and change. He is willing to BE the change when everyone else just talks about it.”

In his acceptance speech, Hautz shared examples of the life transformation he’s witnessed. “I’ve had prostitutes say to me, ‘You’re the only guy who hasn’t wanted anything from me.’ I’ve had hospitals call me after performing heart surgery asking me to take in a patient who would otherwise have had to go back to a septic environment on the streets.”

After the awards presentation, the candidates for president of the Alumni Association spoke briefly on their priorities. Both Millham and Keenan emphasized their desire to connect alumni across campuses and generations, allowing “more experienced and gifted alumni to connect with younger alumni,” to use Millham’s words. Keenan, who was voted in as the new alumni association president, also spoke about nourishing a “culture of philanthropy.”

Gibson discussed recent highlights at The King’s College, and listed three areas he targets as president: admissions, retention, and revenue. For admissions, the College has brought in a consultant to fine-tune recruitment strategy, which has continued to raise both the number and academic preparedness of new students. The College’s student retention rate has grown from 60 percent in 2012 to 79 percent this year, which Gibson attributes to several factors, including the services of the Student Success office, directed by Dr. Jennifer Tharp, and the College’s emphasis on spiritual life. Gibson mentioned the recent addition of two Christian formation coordinators who support the efforts of student life staff and student government in “keeping Christ at the center of everything.” The acquisition of a residential building to serve as student housing is one more step that will provide a steady income stream to fund the work of the College.

Gibson concluded by inviting Doug Nearpass (’78) to lead the singing of “The Lord’s Prayer,” set to music by Albert Hay Malotte. Paul Krause (’78) said, “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, as many of us from the seventies remember singing this at the close of Friday chapels when Dr. Cook spoke.” Alumni continued to visit with one another over dessert as the yacht docked in Chelsea.