by Frank Brazell
It was a chilly evening, and my wife and I were walking back to our car after a dinner date. Small droplets of rain began to fall. As we meandered along the sidewalk, I made eye-contact with a man walking the opposite direction.
“Excuse me, I don’t mean to bother you this evening, but could you please buy me something to eat?”
Seeing our apprehension, he quickly followed up: “I don’t need any money, I’m just hungry.”
The Least of These
Whether you live in North Carolina, Louisiana, Hawaii, or anywhere else in the United States, no doubt you have at some point encountered a homeless person in your community. Sometimes, we might try to block out the reality that there are people living in close proximity to us, but without a roof, without a meal, without hope. The reality is, our communities deal with homelessness, or at the very least encounter it.
As the Church, we are called commanded to love our neighbor, and that includes those among us who struggle to have the most basic of needs met. Rarely are those needs so evident as when the weather turns foul, particularly in places that see temperatures drop to dangerous levels. This time of bad weather thankfully coincides with a season in which we are encouraged to show good will to our neighbors, especially those in need.
Every August, some of the students from Grace College of Divinity’s Fayetteville, North Carolina campus will spend a day in outreach to our local homeless community. They join with a local ministry partner to provide food, and more importantly, kindness through interaction for people in our own city. This outreach always inspires students to look at their community—their sphere of influence— in new ways. Beyond that, it inspires GCD students to take ownership of how they minister to the homeless community in their own backyard. It isn’t about spreading the message of GCD, or showing how selfless our students are (and they are!); What it’s really about is being the hands and feet of Jesus to some of the least-loved members of our society.
How You Can Help
So, this Fall, the GCD Student Government Association would like for all students to partner together to make a difference in the lives of people in our community, without any expectation of a return on investment. We are collecting Winter clothing, mainly hats, socks, and gloves, to give out to our local homeless community. An easily-identified box will be placed in the first-floor lobby of the GCD Building at the Fayetteville Campus. Distance-education students can mail their contributions to:
Grace College of Divinity
C/O Frank Brazell
5117 Cliffdale Road, Building C
Fayetteville, NC 28314
The drive will take place from Tuesday, November 20th to Sunday, December 9th. We will partner with local ministries to distribute the collected items by the end of the semester.
As an added bonus, anyone who contributes items to this drive will be eligible to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card as a thank-you from the Student Government Association, that includes students from other Campuses and Distance Education, just make sure you put your name on the box or package so that we can get you into the raffle for the $25 Amazon Gift Card. The same goes for Fayetteville Campus students who leave items in the lobby— please put a note on the items you donate so we can enter your name in the raffle. Each item—hat, pair of socks or gloves, scarf, etc.— counts as one entry, so feel free to donate multiple items!
Let’s get ready to be a presence in our local community!
*Other campuses wishing to run a similar drive in their own community, please contact Frank Brazell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Today we are in need of leaders who can think critically and effectively solve problems. This may seem elementary, but in reality it’s hard to find. According to Garrette, Sibony, and Phelps at Forbes, “Organizations need effective problem solvers, but they’re telling us our business schools and universities are failing to meet this need. Such training is critical because, for most of us, problem solving doesn’t come naturally.” We, at GCD, have decided we want to actively attack this subject-matter by training our students, today’s leaders, to think critically and actively solve problems!
How do we do this? One, by integrating these topics within our current classes; two, by having instructors that are skilled in these areas; three, and newly added, have a class that specifically addresses this need. We are offering a NEW class in fall of 2018>> Critical Thinking and Problem Solving for Leadership. This course emphasizes the development of skills to include creative thinking, problem solving, decision making, strategy formation, and effective analysis for effective leadership in both the marketplace and social sectors. Students will also learn to evaluate their own ideas and to develop skill in communicating their points of view effectively.
This course will be taught by Marcia Johnson and will be offered both live, on-campus at our main campus, and online. Mrs. Johnson has over twenty years of experience in the development and implementation of employee training programs, designed to help both the individual employee and the overall organization be successful at meeting the many demands on their time and energy, through becoming better, more efficient leaders, supervisors, and individual contributors.
It is time for us as leaders to be effective problem solvers, and this may mean to change our thinking. Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Come and join other emerging leaders as we discover new viewpoints and learn how to develop these skills to maximize our influence with others!
To register for Critical Thinking and Problem Solving for Leadership click HERE.
Or if you are not a student at GCD but would like to take this course, click HERE to start an application.
Author: Stefanie Ertel
Jonathan Love is currently the executive pastor of Grace Church, Chapel Hill, but back in 2002 he was a member of one of GCD’s first graduating classes. Years later this is what Pastor Love has to say about his time spent as a Bible College student at GCD. He has several thoughts and encouragements, that we hope bless GCD alumni, students, and prospects alike. Click the video to hear more!
Written by: Sofia Perez
A few months ago, some of GCD’s staff took a trip to Hawaii to connect with the GCD student community on the island of Oahu. Pastor Norman is an instrumental member of GCD’s student body in Hawaii through his partnership with the Experience Internship and Manna Church. His wisdom and leadership is appreciated by all who interact with him daily. Here are some of his thoughts from his experience as a long distance, online GCD student. We hope you gain something from Pastor Norman, as he shares his heart with us!
Grace College of Divinity prides itself in preparing emerging leaders to change the world. Often times, world changers start their work within the context of their own communities. That is where the motivation and mission behind the GCD Dream Run carved out its foundation. Since 2016, GCD students and staff have partnered with the Fayetteville Dream Center and other outreach initiatives to fundraise for and bring awareness to local needs. All in all, the Dream Run provides the opportunity for students to take ownership of certain needs in the community on behalf of GCD, by stepping into leadership roles in the execution of these events.
These events not only helped fundraise and bring awareness to GCD itself, but fundraised and called attention to several outreach ministries within the Fayetteville community that operate year round. Many of these ministries function out the Fayetteville Dream Center, and primarily reach out to the homeless population and youth within the community. These ministries include BackPack Buddies, which is a ministry devoted to children in the public school system by providing them with educational supplies as well as food to take home on weekends. Often times children living at the poverty level rely on school lunch and breakfast as their common source of nutrition. On weekends, when this isn’t an option, BackPack buddies sends its kids home with food to last them till the next school week. Kids events have also been held in Festival park to interact with youth within the community, with resources provided by the Dream Run earnings. The homeless community has been impacted by the Dream Run as well; in 2017 the Dream Run fundraised for the Dream Center to provide bus passes for homeless individuals to have transportation to job interviews and/or medical appointments.
So many of GCD’s own were heavily involved in the execution of these events. Students like Sarah Beth Miller, recipient of our Servant Leader Award, were instrumental in helping our school shine a light in our community and we are gearing up for another round this year! Partner with GCD for our 3rd annual Dream Run happening September 22nd, 2018.
For more details, contact Stefanie Ertel at email@example.com
Amber Redmer is a current GCD student, enrolled in our Summer Semester. As a single mother of 5, she has decided to pursue her degree, through our online degree program. Read more to hear her thoughts and encouragements on powering through this summer semester.
Even while pursuing higher learning, it is important to take time to enjoy the seasons. The spring and summer months breathe life back into us after short and cold winter days. Spring is my favorite time of year, edging out autumn by only the smallest margin. Resurrection Sunday fills Christian hearts with promise and at the same time the emerging crocus and daffodils seem to be celebrating and praising Him with their bright and early blooms.
This semester I was accepted as a transfer student to Grace College of Divinity. It’s incredibly exciting for me and I’m eager to see how God will transform the dreams I have as I continue my academic journey here.
Because I am a single mom of 5 children, online learning has offered me the flexibility I need to complete my degree. The joy of online learning is in its flexibility, but it’s so important to post early and often to really get the most out of each class experience! I have been an online student on and off for several years and the most engaging class experiences were the ones where there was a great deal of participation, formal and casual, from the students.
Be encouraged, be engaged, pursue connection and relationship!
Many blessings to all my fellow classmates this semester!
GCD was pleased to mark our fifteenth commencement ceremony this past weekend, seeing more than 40 graduates take the stage to receive their formal acknowledgement of program completion. Family and friends were on-hand to share in this momentous occasion for our graduates. A sense of celebration and accomplishment was in the air as students received their symbolic degrees. The ceremony was held on Saturday, May 12, but the festivities began the night before in a special event for students who completed a program of studies at the Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s level.
The Chrio Convocation was held on Friday evening, May 11. The title refers to the Greek word for anointing, and this service focused on recognizing student awards for academic accomplishment as well as a time of prayer and encouragement for attending graduates. In a touching conclusion, select family or friends gathered around each graduating student as prayer leaders asked for the blessing of the Lord to be poured out. One graduate’s grandmother travelled from California to be present, and was bursting with smiles as she described her thankfulness to God for her granddaughter’s achievements.
Graduation commencement featured a keynote message from Dr. Tracy Davis, President of Olivet University. Dr. Davis’ main text was Philippians 2:12-13, from which came the encouragement for graduates to “work out” their salvation “with fear and trembling.” In an energetic manner, Dr. Davis echoed the Apostle Paul’s reminder that it is God who is at work in his children. No matter what challenges the graduates may soon face, Dr. Davis assured them that their Father in heaven will be with them as they submit their hearts, minds, and souls to His work in their lives.
Commencement also marked a time to honor distinguished efforts by GCD’s faculty. Dr. Steven Crowther, President of Grace College of Divinity, presented the Faculty of the Year award to Dr. Robert Clanton. Dr. Clanton has tirelessly taught GCD courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and has been instrumental in the expansion of GCD’s online learning to provide academic training for those called to serve in the advance of God’s Kindgom. In a pre-recorded video acceptance speech, Dr. Clanton expressed his thankfulness for this award from his office at New Life Church in Monroe, LA.
Some of GCD’s graduates have already been serving in active ministry roles. Others have already been accepted into GCD’s Master of Arts in Christian Leadership program or the Master of Divinity program. Whether continuing their academic studies or focusing on the next step of their calling, we are excited to see how our graduates will put to work the many lessons they have learned to lead well in their service to the Lord.
Adriane Harrington has always considered herself to be a lifelong learner. Immediately after working to receive her bachelor’s degree from Grace College of Divinity, she decided to continue her pursuit in education and is currently on her way to a master’s in Christian leadership. Read to find out more about her experience as both a current student and an alumna here at Grace College of Divinity.
“My husband is a retired service member, so we’ve lived in Fayetteville for a little more than 20 years. And we’ve been members of Manna for about 10 of those years. Off and on, I’d hear a lot about the college, but at that time, the college was not accredited. So, at that time, I had classes that I had – I’ve been a lifelong learner. That’s a way of saying it’s taken me a long time to get my bachelor’s degree. For forty years, I’ve been working on my bachelor’s degree, and I just graduated last May. Praise God. So, actually, I say, also, I’ve been smelling the roses and which, is wonderful.
“I had taken classes during our military career, evening classes, I had taken classes at Fayetteville State just before I transferred here. Once it became accredited, I felt the leading of the Lord that this was where He would want me to be. And I entered the program for my bachelor’s in divinity. They transferred in most of my credits and I started about, maybe four or five years ago. So, I was so thankful to walk across the stage – tears running down my face, and right away, I began my master’s work. It’s Christian leadership. I’m loving that. Christian leadership just suits me perfectly because I am in leadership over at EP.
“I’ve been there in leadership for probably four or five years for the SERVE team, VIP team. Love the work there, love the people there. I think a life statement of mine is that all that we do is ministry. Wherever we go, it is ministry. All that we do, all that we say is ministry as unto the Lord – it should be, at least. So, in that way, we should definitely guard our lives, guard our mouths, guard our whole being as presentation unto Him, as a living sacrifice. So, I consider it a great honor to be a student here at Grace College of Divinity. I love being in the classroom, especially where I can interact with other students, and hear students your age – their views, and their viewpoints and just mull those over in my mind. It keeps me, I think, young!
“It doesn’t matter what age you are. You’re not too young, you’re not going to be too old to come. I’m so thankful that the Lord has allowed me to be a student throughout my life and He continues to encourage me to learn, to always be a lifelong learner, to always be enriching my life with His word and with people of like faith.”