Belhaven Students Celebrate Annual MLK Day of Service

The motto of Belhaven University is “To Serve, Not to Be Served,” and for over 10 years, students, staff and faculty at Belhaven have participated in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Day.

This year, over 300 students volunteered at charitable organizations around Jackson. Athletic teams, student organizations, residence hall groups and groups of friends took their day off of class to serve the community.

“The campus-wide MLK Service Day is a great way for the Belhaven University community to come together to serve those around us, said, JoBeth Petty Murphree, Director of Student Leadership. “Serving others was at the core of all that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did in his lifetime and is a significant part of the legacy he left us.  This day is set aside to honor him and help others!”

One of the organizations that Belhaven students served on Monday was the Spencer Perkins Center, an outreach effort of the John M. Perkins Foundation. The center is committed to the development of inner city youth, community development, and teaching and training opportunities.

Minister and Civil rights pioneer John M. Perkins is pictured above with a group of Belhaven students. One of the organizations that Belhaven students served on Monday was the Spencer Perkins Center, an outreach effort of the John M. Perkins Foundation. The center is committed to the development of inner city youth, community development, and teaching and training opportunities.

John M. Perkins serves on the Belhaven University Board of Advisors, and has received an honorary doctorate from Belhaven to celebrate his civil rights work. Fellow CCCU member Seattle Pacific University recently opened the John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development, and Christian band Switchfoot released the song “The Sound (John Perkins’ Blues).”

Other Jackson-area organizations such as Mission First, We Will Go, Habitat for Humanity, as well as area churches received volunteers from Belhaven this year.

Enjoy Selections from Belhaven’s Singing Christmas Tree

The 82nd Annual Singing Christmas Tree took place at Belhaven University earlier this month.

The event first debuted to the public in 1933 and has become a yearly tradition. Belhaven’s Singing Christmas Tree was named one of the top 20 events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society, and has been featured in Southern Living Magazine.

We would like to share a video from this year’s event, featuring five timeless Christmas classics: O Christmas Tree, Jingle Bells, Joy to the World, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

Annual Singing Christmas Tree Scheduled for Weekend

In 1933, a group of faculty and students, led by music professor Mignonne Caldwell, had the idea to construct a wooden frame for the campus choir to stand on while performing traditional Christmas carols. Some 82 years later, that moment shines bright as America’s Oldest Singing Christmas Tree, a Belhaven University tradition.

This year’s performance, open to the public, takes place on December 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m in the Athletic Bowl at the center of campus. This wonderful community event has been highlighted by the likes of Southern Living Magazine, and named among the top 20 events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society.

Ms. Bettye Quinn, Associate Professor of Education and Director of Elementary Education, has seen the event 77 of the 81 times it has taken place.

“I remember when I was three years old in 1937 and a family friend brought me to see the Belhaven Singing Christmas Tree for the first time,” recalled Ms. Quinn. “At the time, the tree was a group of 40 girls on a platform between the columns. They had on white robes and held bright lights that reflected into the lagoon. It was a glorious sight for a little child to see!”

Since then, the Singing Christmas Tree has taken on a few technological advances. A state of the art sound system is used and the candles remembered by Ms. Quinn have been replaced by LED lights. The 35-foot tall tree holds up to 100 men and women singers, and the LED lights change colors in various patterns and sequences according to the character of each Christmas carol.

Holidays, End of Fall Semester Approaching On Campus

The end of the fall semester is always a bittersweet time on a college campus. Football, soccer and volleyball seasons come to a close, students return home for Thanksgiving only to return for final exams, and then leave again for Christmas break. For seniors, graduation is right around the corner, for other students, a nice break awaits before returning for the spring semester.

Whether its the first or last semester for a student at Belhaven, this ia a busy time of final projects, papers and presentations, and of course final exams. Students returning in the spring should have already gone through Registration Week (it   was October 27-31), but there’s still time if you missed out. Students can contact their advisor and schedule a time to meet. Not sure who your advisor is? The Think Center is glad to help.

Thanksgiving Holidays are scheduled for November 26-28. All university offices will be closed, and no classes on campus will meet. Residence Halls will remain open for students that are not able to travel home for this short break.

Final Exams begin at 6:00 p.m. on December 3 and continue through December 9.  December 9 also marks the official final day of the Fall semester. Residence Halls will close at 5:00 p.m. on December 11, and will open again on January 11. Spring classes begin on January 14.

As the fall semester comes to a close, there are many events happening on campus. The Theatre Department is presenting its Annual Evening of One-Acts on November 20-21, and DOXA is performing its Dance concert on November 20-21 as well. The Dance Department will also present its Improv Jam on December 1.

The Music Department will be busy during the Christmas season. On November 22, Gloria in Excelsis! A Christmas Celebration takes place in the Concert Hall, and on November 24, the Best of Belhaven Concert is slated for the Concert Hall. This all leads up to the 82nd Annual Singing Christmas Tree, scheduled for December 5-6 in the Belhaven Bowl.

Blazer basketball is also in action as the semester comes to a close. The men’s squad takes on cross-town rival Mississippi College on November 25, and both the men’s and women’s teams play Brewton Parker on November 28 and Middle Georgia on November 29. The Lady Blazers host Concordia on December 6 to close out the 2014 home slate.

We would like to wish all of our students, families, faculty and staff a festive Thanksgiving holiday. As the Psalmist wrote, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

DOXA Elects Officers

“DOXA means glory.”

That’s what you will hear the dancers in Belhaven’s dance club say. Open to anyone, DOXA provides dance majors and non-dance majors alike an opportunity to glorify God through this student-led organization.

The organization, one of the most popular on campus, recently elected officers for the 2014-2015 school year are Edward DeShane (President), Arianna Marcell (Vice President), Hannah Janssen (Secretary), Taylor Ellen (Treasurer), Alayna Brenchley & Kaleb Reilly (Chaplains), Abigail Stauffer (Public Relations Officer), Marian Bayer (Production Manager). Cynthia Newland is the faculty advisor for the group.

DOXA is not just a club you “join”, instead you participate and go to the activities held by the organization. It is a great way for dance majors to get to know and bond their fellow dancers outside of the dance department and classes. DOXA coordinates dance student events such as Secret Encouragers and the Eagle of the Week. The Secret Encourager is where every dancer is given a name of another dancer to stealthily encourage them throughout the second semester of the school year.

The Eagle of the Week is given out during the Dance department’s weekly meeting. The Eagle of the Week is given to someone who has shown servanthood, leadership, encouraged others, and progressed that week. The eagle is given from the previous receiver to the person that has inspired them that week and who needs encouragement. DOXA is a ministry to the dancers from the dancers, there are times where DOXA holds events or worship nights.

“DOXA is great for our student body because it encourages us and reminds us to really just focus on the Lord,” said Stephanie Morales. “It reminds us that even though we are here to dance, we’re also here to worship and be His servants. It’s a really encouraging organization.”

DOXA holds a concert in November and is where dance majors, minors, or non-dance majors audition and are selected to perform a piece choreographed by students. For more information, check out DOXA’s web page.


RUF at Belhaven: Finding the Answers

It comes as a shock to many devout church goers when they are told that around 70 percent of teens leave the church after they begin their college careers. This is perceived as one of the biggest problems facing the modern evangelical church today – where are all of our young people going?

Church leaders of both churches and college campus ministries try to stem the exodus of young adults from the church, but too often their attempts don’t aid the cure, they feed the disease. Perhaps one exception, though, is the Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) ministry right here at Belhaven University.

RUF is the official campus ministry of the Presbyterian Church of America. It started in the latter part of the 1970’s with several young PCA ministers seeing the need to reach out to young college students and now has ministries on more than 100 college campuses throughout the United States. Each of these are different, but each adheres to the basic goals of RUF: proclaim God’s Word and foster strong Christian community. For those earnestly seeking the truth, in many ways this makes RUF a very approachable and user friendly ministry. As we will see though, this is not taken so far as to dilute their message or potency.

Reverend Seth Starkey, the campus minister for the RUF on Belhaven’s campus, has a passion for RUF and for the students under his care. His bluntness is the first thing I noticed about Seth; after growing up with wishy-washy, people pleasing youth pastors, I am not alone in appreciating his straightforward, no nonsense approach to witnessing to students.

He starts off every RUF function by making things personal and relational.  His preaching is directly to the point, and he is not afraid to speak candidly with students. “Don’t come to RUF if all you plan on doing is hiding out with other Christians whom you are comfortable hanging out with,” he said.  This might make people uneasy, but that is the point Starkey tries to get across – Christianity is not supposed to be a comfortable or safe topic, genre, or lifestyle.

There are many ways to get involved in Belhaven RUF. Every Tuesday night, RUF meets at 9:00 p.m. in Barber Auditorium. Reverend Starkey, along with Ryan Berkompas and Mary Hope Bray, RUF interns, lead this time of worship, Bible reading, and studying of the Christian faith. Seth also leads a weekly Freshman Bible study every Thursday at 4:00 p.m. in the Cooper Room at the back of the cafeteria.

One of the most important ways RUF reaches students on campus is through their small groups. These gender specific gatherings of five to six students meets once every one to two weeks and serves as a close and personal way to experience Christian community and fellowship. In addition to these group activities, Seth, Ryan, and Hope all try and make it easy to schedule a one on one conversation. All of these combined help make it very easy to be welcomed into the RUF community at Belhaven.

In the first meeting of the Freshman Bible study last week, Seth opened it up by stating “You should always have more questions than you have answers.” Belhaven University Reformed University Fellowship serves students as both a safe place to ask questions and a sincerely honest forum for finding the answers. For more information about RUF at Belhaven, visit or check out their Facebook Page.

Going Viral

In this technology-driven world, staying ahead of the curve is more important that ever. Universities across the nation, including Belhaven, have invested resources into building engaging social media communities.

Social media can be a great equalizer in today’s competitive marketing environment. Belhaven’s social media efforts were honored as the top in the state (besting all private universities and the larger state universities) by the College Public Relations Association of Mississippi. Our Facebook page is one of the nation’s most engaging. But what happened one recent afternoon took Belhaven viral.

Construction crews have started on the $9 million University Village, which will be a state-of-the art, high-end apartment complex located in the middle of campus. One of the challenges that we knew we would face is how to get the heavy equipment to the construction site. On the afternoon of August 19, it became a little less challenging.

Construction crews were unable to make the turn without hitting the guard house. As the video shows, the guard house was completely destroyed.  After reviewing the video, and being thankful that no one was injured, we decided to release the video on our YouTube channel and our Facebook page.

The video have been watched over 85,000 times, including almost 50,000 in the first 24 hours! All of the local Jackson news stations, as well as national cable outlet MSNBC and stations as far away as North Carolina and Rhode Island picked up the video. We saw traffic on our website and our other social media channels grow as well.

Social media is now a very integral part of a university community. Our students are as likely to find us on Facebook as they are our website. In addition to our YouTube and Facebook pages, the university maintains official Twitter and Instagram accounts, @belhavenu .  If you are a member of a social media community, give Belhaven a like or follow and keep up with all the news and events happening from campus.

You never know, another guard house could be knocked down.