Belhaven Students Joined Me at the State Capitol

photo[4]Today, five great students (wearing Belhaven Gold shirts) join me at the State Capitol, with students and presidents of the other private universities in Mississippi, to celebrate Independent Higher Education Week in Mississippi.

The delegation was address by Speaker of the House, Phillip Gunn, who’s son, Andrew is a senior at Belhaven.

Joining him were Colleges and Universities Committee Chairs of the Senate and the House, John A. Polk, and Nolan Mettetal.  Senator Polk’s son-in-law is currently completing his Master Degree through our Belhaven Online campus.

Seven school presidents joined by five students from each campus to form a smart, and bright background for the press conference.

Members of the Mississippi Association of Independent Colleges include:

Belhaven University

Blue Mountain College

Millsaps College

Mississippi College

Rust College

Tougaloo College

William Carey University

Spring Chapel Schedule Announced

This spring, I’m looking forward to continuing our study of the life of Kind David.

This past fall we took a detailed look at the lessons to be learned from the story of David and Goliath. And now,  we jump into a wide range of exciting and troubling challenges throughout the rest of the life this great leader.

In the six message I’ll be preaching, I trust we can learn much from David’s life through these topics:

  1. Success!
  2. When God Says NO.
  3. Crossroads:  Compromise or Integrity
  4. The Hardest Part is Forgiving Yourself
  5. Breaking Dysfunctional Family Ties
  6. How Would God Describe You?

Along with with this study of David from the Old Testament, we’ll have two chapels with  with Dr. John Perkins.  They don’t get any more influential and insightful than Dr. John, and I’m thrilled our student can hear twice from this giant of the Church.

Other important services are planned throughout the spring. Below is the full schedule.

** Because chapel is now offered twice each Tuesday morning, we have seating space for friends of Belhaven to attend if you’d like to come.  Chapel runs for 50 minutes on Tuesday mornings.  The identical services begin at 9:35 and 11:00 am.

January 14 Success!
Learning from the Life of King David
Dr. Roger Parrott
January 21 When God Says NO
Learning from the Life of King David
Dr. Roger Parrott
January 28 Crossroads: Compromise or Integrity
Learning from the Life of King David
Dr. Roger Parrott
February 4 The Hardest Part is Forgiving Yourself
Learning from the Life of King David
Dr. Roger Parrott
February 11 Dr. John Perkins
John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development
February 18 Dr. John Perkins
John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development
February 25 Ms. Lisa Espineli Chinn
Intervarsity National Director International Student Ministry Program
March 4 Student Mission Conference
Mr. Josep Debeljuh
Global Disciples, Croatia
March 11 Spring Break
March 18 Breaking Dysfunctional Family Ties
Learning from the Life of King David
Dr. Roger Parrott
March 25 How Would God Describe You?
Learning from the Life of King David
Dr. Roger Parrott
April 1 God At Work – At Work
A panel discussion led by Dr. Parrott asking hard questions to Christians living out their faith in a variety of professions
April 8 Looking Back and Looking Ahead
A panel discussion led by Dr. Parrott asking graduating seniors what they have learned and how God is leading them to prepare for life after Belhaven
April 15 Honors Convocation
Only the 11 am chapel will be held this day so all students and faculty can join in celebrating the accomplishments of the year. Classes scheduled for 10:50 on this Tuesday are canceled.

Yay Daddy!

This past week we held commencement ceremonies for our campuses in Jackson, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Orlando.  This time of year it is primarily graduate and adult students completing their degrees.

The graduation ceremonies for our campuses in Houston and Memphis are held during the spring.

If you want to know why Belhaven University is so committed to adult and graduate students read this blog post below.

It was written by Ed Pickel, the director of admissions for Belhaven University’s Chattanooga campus.  I deeply respect Ed’s effectiveness in recruiting, but more importantly, I’m in awe of his passion for helping adult and graduate students change their lives.

Ed gets it!

Here is his wonderfully written account of commencement in Chattanooga on Friday night last week:

Last Friday evening, our Chattanooga-Dalton campus held its 2013 graduation ceremony. I had the privilege of sitting with our faculty – second row from the front. From that vantage point, I could see everything that was happening on the platform.

However, it wasn’t so much what was happening on the platform that captured my attention; it was what I was hearing behind me…babies crying, a graduate sitting directly behind me “amening” the commencement speaker; occasional laughter; someone softly echoing the benediction as the service drew to a close – “the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

So much energy, so much excitement! It was a wonderful moment.

The most thought provoking voice, however, didn’t originate from a graduate or a baby, but was from what seemed to be a young child – maybe five or six years old. As one of our graduates walked across the platform to receive his diploma, I heard a forceful “Yay Daddy!” A subdued laughter slowly began to make its way across our warm, cozy, venue.

An adult college graduate who had worked hard for months balancing work, family, and school heard the words “Yay Daddy” from his child. In the world of adult education, no words could be more profound. Here’s why…

  •  The words “Yay Daddy” coming from an adult student’s child confirm that the hard work and sacrifice that goes into earning a college degree has been worth it. Someone who loves and looks up to the graduate has uttered the ultimate confirmation.
  • The words “Yay Daddy” indicate that the child recognizes graduation as a major accomplishment in his parent’s life. He sees that his dad’s hard work is recognized and makes the connection between diligence, perseverance, and reward. These are vital connections for the child’s future success in school and in the workplace.
  • Finally, the words “Yay Daddy” mean that the child, more than likely, will be a college graduate himself. Research indicates that children of college graduates are more likely to be college graduates themselves. Our kids are watching. They see Mom or Dad writing a paper, reading a book, or preparing a presentation. Children see the value in education only to the extent that their parents model its value.

As the bagpiper led us out of the auditorium at the end of the service, I imagined the “Yay Daddy” child being held snuggly by his mother – maybe even asleep by now. What a fortunate little guy to have such a daddy.

Probably the most gratifying aspect of working in adult education is knowing that we work year round to create “Yay Daddy” moments at graduation. We look forward to next December! But this morning, we still find ourselves reliving Friday evening. To all of the class of 2013, the staff and faculty of Belhaven University offer a heartfelt “Yay Daddy” (and “Yay Mommy” as well).

A Dr. Don and Donna Hubele Kind of Thanksgiving

Story from the Clarion Ledger

Belhaven professor, wife offer seat at the table

Belhaven University student Kerry Jones had his Thanksgiving all planned out.

The freshman from Texas saw himself stuck in Jackson eating a cheeseburger and drinking a Frosty at Wendy’s, longing for a home-cooked meal.

That all changed when he walked into his English class this week and his professor, Don Hubele, offered students a meal at his home.

The home of Hubele and his wife, Donna, has become a home away from home for Belhaven students over the years. Students and professors mingle at Halloween parties, enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner or drop by for a sandwich on a Tuesday afternoon.

“Someone is always over here every couple of days, it seems like for one reason or another,” Donna Hubele said as she finished whipping mashed potatoes for a crowd of 22 people in her Belhaven home blocks from the university, where her husband is the English Department chairman.

The Hubeles have hosted students and faculty at Thanksgiving for four years. The annual event began after a few students let Don Hubele know they had nowhere to go for a Thanksgiving meal.

Seventeen people — mostly dance students — attended that first meal in 2010. The afternoon ended with somewhat of an impromptu performance.

“We put on a performance of ‘Nutcracker’ while we were clearing the table,” Don Hubele said with a smile. “They were all doing ballet while they’re washing dishes.”

A few faculty families joined the second year, including music professor Christopher Shelt, who led a band of troubadours with a Scottish drum, guitar, fiddle and accordion in a front-yard performance.

“We had people do-si-doing in the driveway,” Donna Hubele said.

This year’s feast was complete with a spread including a 22-pound turkey, ham and a litany of side dishes. There was even a gluten-free cake to help feed the guests who hailed from as far away as California, Colorado, Malaysia and Japan.

Don Hubele, an ordained minister, began the afternoon by reciting a Psalm and offering words of encouragement.

Belhaven University’s faith-based curriculum was a unifying draw for many of the out-of-state students.

Katie Allen, a junior from Woodland Park, Colo. said the fact Belhaven is one of the few Christian universities in the country to offer a creative writing degree was a driving force behind her ending up in Mississippi. She also was intrigued by the opportunity to integrate herself into a close-knit community of teachers and students.

“It never feels forced or formal (at the Hubele home),” Allen said. “It always feels like you are welcome.”

Mercy Lay and Patience Lay of Malaysia were among the first to arrive for the Thanksgiving meal. As the twins helped the Hubeles get dishes ready, they got a crash-course in the uniquely American holiday.

The Lay sisters, 27, will graduate in the spring with degrees in dance.

Patience said they tried for six years to find a Christian university that offered a dance degree. They said their only hope was to leave their country.

“It was amazing how God made us know about Belhaven,” Patience Lay said.

The Lays’ parents attended a wedding in Kuala Lumpur and were seated next to a stranger who had a daughter pursuing a dance degree at Belhaven.

After receiving information from the man would become a family friend, the man placed a late-night call to her daughters.

“My mom knew instantly that this is something we would love,” Mercy Lay said. “She asked us not to sleep until they come back. When we put down the phone (Patience and I) had this heart-pounding moment: ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’ And, true enough, it was like a dream come true.”

The Hubeles expressed sadness it would be the last Thanksgiving spent with the Lay twins.

“We are blessed to able to know people and build relationships from around the world,” Donna Hubele said. “This is our extended family.”

Premiere Tonight: Johanne d’Arc

Joe Frost written and directed original play Johanne d’Arc should not be missed.

It opens tonight and run though next week, but don’t wait until the end of the run or you might miss it.  And because it is  improv driven theatre, you may want to see this dynamic show more than once.

This week and next week:  Thursday 7:30,  Friday 7:30, Saturday 2:00


















From the Jackson Free Press

Joan of Arc goes on stage fueled by improv for Belhaven University’s production of “Johanne d’Arc.”

The university’s theater director and department chairman, Joe Frost, decided to let the creative process of improvisation determine and guide the script for “Johanne d’Arc.” During improvisational rehearsals, the students tailored their roles to fit the characters.

“That’s when I write the script, after the creative process ensues,” Frost says. The cast worked on improvisation together for about a month before Frost wrote a script based on the scenes they workshopped. Then, they continued to tweak the script through rehearsals.

For the production, an all-female cast researched Joan of Arc historical accounts together. Using their knowledge and improv skills, they built the characters, defined their scenes and applied dialogue based on their interpretation of their characters to construct the play. Joan of Arc’s story as a peasant girl God called to lead the fight against the English for the reestablishment of the French throne expands based on how far the actors wish to hone in on the adventures of the heroine.

I want to produce a new point of view and interpretation, painting another picture of what audiences already know about the bold escapades of the historical person,” Frost says. “Possibilities exist through improvisations that don’t come out in a pre-scripted play. (Students are) given the opportunity to personalize their feelings because their guard is let down.” Many cast members are returning students who already have acting experience.

“But there were so many new students too that gives us fresh perspective, evoking even more invention,” he says.

Students went through rehearsal exercises to prepare for the experiment in improv. The exercises helped them to become more accepting and comfortable with fellow actors.

This will be an “in the round” production that allows for flexible seating which brings the audience in close contact with the actors as they perform.

Laina Faul will portray Johanne. All other roles will interchange. Belhaven faculty members Kris Dietrich and Nadine Grant are designing the final set and costumes, respectively.

Running from the Giants

The past four weeks I’ve been speaking in chapel examining the story of David and Goliath.

This past week, we looked at the nature of giants in our lives, and how we attack the armor of the giants rather than beating the giant inside the armor – and that if we don’t fight the real giant, the taunts of the giants will continue to plague us.

Near the end of that time on Tuesday, I summarized some of the paths we use to escape our giants, and put what I’d written on the screen.  I’ve had several requests for that paragraph, so posting it here – in it’s full vision that I’d written (in chapel only shared a portion of it)

If you’d like to hear the entire message you will find it HERE.

We tend to put on our armor so others will only know our persona, not the true person who is vulnerable, fragile, and scared behind our armor.

We learn to retreat by hiding behind

  • a plague of perfectionism
  • a nameless weekend party
  • an unlimited computer
  • legalistic Christianity

or a thousand other paths that take us anywhere we can’t see ourselves in a mirror.

And feeling protected there, for a moment, a day, a year, or a decade we feel safe, insulated, anesthetized.

But then the adrenaline wears off, a quiet gap comes into our busy schedule, the liquor turns to a headache, the spiritual intensity loses its emotional high, the illicit lover leaves, or the consequences of bad choices tumble down on us . . .

. . . and we hear Goliath’s taunts again.

Dr. Ligon Duncan Appointed RTS Chancellor

Belhaven’s dear friend, and former board member, and pastor of our campus church – Dr. Ligon Duncan – has been elected as the next Chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary.

This is a match made in heaven.

RTS and Belhaven serve many of the same cities – Jackson, Orlando, Memphis, Houston, and Atlanta.  In addition, we are in Chattanooga, and they are in Washington DC. We both have strong online campuses.  There should be many ways we can continue to work together under Dr. Duncan’s leadership as Chancellor of RTS.

We love having him as our pastor to many connected with Belhaven University and will miss that greatly, but we rejoice that in this new role he will be pastor to the whole world.

Here is the full news release from RTS:

(JACKSON, MS) – August 18, 2013 – The RTS Board of Trustees has elected Dr. J. Ligon Duncan, III, as chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary. Duncan is currently the John E. Richards professor of systematic and historical theology at RTS in Jackson, Miss., and the senior minister of historic First Presbyterian Church (1837), where he has served for the past 17 years. He is the president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and served as President of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals from 2004-2012. Click here to visit the RTS chancellor Web page.

Duncan will continue to teach systematic and historical theology for RTS, and will serve as senior minister at First Presbyterian Church until the end of this year. His appointment as chancellor and CEO of RTS follows his good friend Dr. Michael Milton, who retired as chancellor in May 2013.

“We are thankful the Lord has answered our prayers for a new chancellor, and that Dr. Duncan has accepted the call to lead RTS.  We began this search expecting it to take an extended amount of time, but we were gratefully surprised at how quickly consensus was reached,” said RTS Chairman of the Board Richard Ridgway. “Dr. Ligon Duncan is uniquely gifted for this important leadership position at RTS. He is a well-known theologian, pastor, preacher and churchman not only in the PCA but across the spectrum of evangelical and Reformed churches, here in North America and around the world. As an RTS professor for 23 years, he knows our institution and our faculties know him as a man who is both a scholar and a pastor. He is an effective communicator with great leadership ability.”

A familiar face to us, Duncan has taught for RTS since 1990. He has lectured for RTS in Jackson, Charlotte, Orlando, Memphis, and for our Global program, as well as in Vienna and Hong Kong. He has delivered lectures and papers at various universities, seminaries and national meetings, and has preached or addressed major conferences as a member of the faculty representing RTS.

He earned the Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Edinburgh, New College (Scotland) in the field of Patristics, or what is now often called Early Christian Studies. His doktorvater was the renowned Reformation and Patristic scholar, David F. Wright. Duncan did both his M.Div. (cum laude), and his M.A. (in Historical Theology) also cum laude, at Covenant Theological Seminary, where he was mentored by the respected church historian, David B. Calhoun. Duncan received his B.A. (History) from Furman University. He has authored, co-authored, edited or contributed to more than 35 books.

Having served on the staff at The Covenant Presbyterian Church of St. Louis (under the late Rodney Stortz), Duncan’s pastoral experience began in his twenties. He was licensed to preach by his presbytery in 1985 and supplied pulpits in churches in the U.K. throughout his time there in the late-1980’s. In 1990 he was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and joined the faculty of RTS in Jackson, where he was subsequently appointed the John R. Richardson professor of theology.  During this time, he also served as an assistant minister at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Jackson (under his boyhood pastor, Gordon K. Reed) and then as interim pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Yazoo City, Miss. He left his full-time position at RTS to become senior minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Jackson in 1996 (only the twelfth in that congregation’s 177-year history), but continued to teach at RTS as adjunct.

In 2004, Duncan became the youngest minister ever to serve as moderator of the general assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America. He helped co-found Together for the Gospel in 2006, which has become a major catalyst for the young reformed resurgence. He is founder and chairman of Reformed Academic Press and serves on numerous boards/councils including the Highland Theological College, The Gospel Coalition, and the Reformed African American Network. He is the chairman of the RUF Midsouth Joint Committee which gives oversight to university campus ministry throughout the region.

His wife Anne is an RTS alumna with a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. She is currently on the faculty of Jackson Preparatory School. Ligon and Anne are the delighted parents of two wonderful teenagers and they plan to continue to reside in Jackson.