2014 a Big Year for Belhaven in Social Media

One of the advantages of social media is the ability to look back over time at photos, videos and other memories. The past year included a number of significant advances for Belhaven University.  We saw record enrollment as well as numerous awards and accolades. Our social media team took a look at the top ten most engaging posts of 2014 on the Belhaven Facebook Page.

  1. Back in April, we learned that two of our music graduates, Jocelyn Zhu and Shellie Brown, were accepted to prestigious graduate programs in violin performance. Jocelyn now attends the Juilliard School and Shellie has enrolled at Rice University.
  1. We received a $4 million gift from Mrs. Robbie Hughes that is being used to construct the new University Village residence hall.  This unique, on campus apartment-style complex is expected to open in the Fall of 2015, and will house 132 students.
  1. Sports stories are very popular on social media, and when the Blazer football team defeated cross-town rival Mississippi College in September, students, alumni and fans shared their jubilation on social media.
  1. In the spring, Belhaven welcomed International Disability Advocate and Grammy-nominated artist Joni Eareckson Tada to campus.  The event was very popular, even drawing attention from members of Duck Dynasty’s Robertson family.
  1. Belhaven was once again named as one of just 33 colleges and universities holding national accreditation in all four of the arts – dance, music, theatre and visual art.  Belhaven is competing with some of the largest schools in the nation in the arts arena – including Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Brigham Young.
  1. Belhaven University opened its doors to the first class in the School of Nursing this fall. After the semester began, the students participated in the traditional “Blessing of the Hands” ceremony.
  1. The 82nd Annual Singing Christmas Tree took place in December. The Clarion Ledger interviewed Miss Bettye Quinn about the history of the tree in what was one of the most popular stories of the year.
  1. Belhaven was the only university in Mississippi and one of just two members of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities to be honored by the White House for its commitment to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education.
  1. Belhaven made national news in January with the hiring of legendary coach Hal Mumme to lead the Blazer football program. The hiring brought national attention to Belhaven, and ESPN featured Coach Mumme as football season got underway across the nation.
  1. Sometimes you do not know what is going to go viral. The top social media story of 2014 was something we could not have planned. As students were returning for the fall semester, a construction crew delivering equipment to the University Village construction site couldn’t quite make the turn. The result: A viral video that made local and national news coverage and has been viewed over 90,000 times.

Dr. Jerry Young Elected President of the National Baptist Convention, USA

I am thrilled that Belhaven University board member, Dr. Jerry Young has been elected president of the National Baptist Convention, USA.  This is  the largest African-American denomination in the country.

Dr. Young is a remarkable preacher, with a humble spirit and servant’s heart.  I know God will use his influence in significant ways as he serves in this vital leadership position.

He has served on our board for about 18 years, and has always been responsive to help Belhaven University in the city of Jackson and extending our reach around the country.

Here is the story from the Clarion Ledger


Dr. Jerry Young, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson, has been elected the next president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. Young makes history as the first Mississippi pastor to serve in this position.

The 134th Annual Session for the National Baptist Convention took place this week in New Orleans, and Young was elected Thursday night from a field of five candidates nominated for the seat. The candidates were Dr. R.B Holmes, Dr. Clifford Jones, Dr. Boise Kimber and Dr. Randy Vaughn. Young won by a landslide 3,195 votes, according to New Hope Baptist Church.

Marcus Cathey, pastor of West Point Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, and his congregation supported Young during his campaign because of proven leadership.

“It’s been my privilege to call Dr. Young my pastor for the past 34 years as I grew up in Jackson as a member of New Hope Baptist Church,” Cathey said in an email. “This election will give the nation an opportunity to see the type of leadership that’s produced here in our state.”

Also attending the convention, Cathey said Young’s immediate tasks will include recruiting a team to help him address questions about the convention’s future work and decline in members.

Each church, district association or state convention entity may be eligible to cast up to five votes for the election for president of the National Baptist Convention. Young succeeds Dr. Julius R. Scruggs, pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., elected president Sept. 10, 2009 during the 129th Annual Session held in Memphis.

Dr. Jerry Young is a native of Scott, Mississippi and has led New Hope Baptist Church since 1980, and is the founder and headmaster of New Hope Christian Pre-School and New Hope Christian Elementary School serving 300-plus students.

Up until Thursday’s vote, Young served as the organization’s vice president at large and also served as president of Mississippi National Baptist Convention for 12 years. The National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., is the largest African-American religious organization in the country.

How To Discourage Artists in the Church

From The Gospel Coalition Blog

Many Christian artists live between two strange worlds. Their faith in Christ seems odd to many of their friends in the artistic community—almost as odd as their calling as artists seems to some of their friends at church. Yet Christians called to draw, paint, sculpt, sing, act, dance, and play music have extraordinary opportunities to honor God in their daily work and to bear witness to the grace, beauty, and truth of the gospel. How can pastors (and churches) encourage Christians with artistic gifts in their dual calling as Christian artists?

As a pastor and college president, I have made a sad discovery: the arts are not always affirmed in the life of the local church. We need a general rediscovery of the arts in the context of the church. This is badly needed because the arts are the leading edge of culture.

A recovery of the arts is also needed because the arts are a vital sign for the church. Francis Schaeffer once said:

For a Christian, redeemed by the work of Christ and living within the norms of Scripture and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts. A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God—not just as tracts, but as things of beauty to the praise of God.

In this article, I am taking a fresh and somewhat contrarian approach by seeking to answer the question, “How do you discourage artists in the church?”

In preparation, I asked some friends for their answers to my question: an actor, a sculptor, a jazz singer, a photographer. They are not whiners, but they gave me an earful (and said that it was kind of fun).

Here is my non-exhaustive list of ways that churches can discourage their artists (and some quotes from my friends).

Treat the arts as a window dressing for the truth rather than a window into reality. See the arts as merely decorative or entertaining, not serious and life-changing. “‘Humor’ artists by ‘allowing’ them to put work up in the hallways, or some forgotten, unused corner with terrible lighting, where it can be ‘decoration,'” David Hooker told me.

Embrace bad art. Tolerate low aesthetic standards. Only value work that is totally accessible, not difficult or challenging. One example would be digital images and photography on powerpoint as a background for praise songs. Value work that is sentimental, that doesn’t take risks, that doesn’t give offense, that people immediately “get.”

Value artists only for their artistic gifts, not for the other contributions they can make to the life of the church. See them in one dimension, not as whole persons. Specifically, discount artists for leadership roles because they are too creative, not analytical, too intuitive.

Demand artists to give answers in their work, not raise questions. Mark Lewis says, “Make certain that your piece (or artifact or performance) makes incisive theological or moral points, and doesn’t stray into territory about which you are unresolved or in any way unclear. (Clear answers are of course more valuable than questions).” Do not allow for ambiguity, or for varied responses to art. Demand art to communicate in the same way to everyone.

Never pay artists for their work. Expect that they will volunteer their service, without recognizing their calling or believing that they are workers worthy of their hire. Note that Old Testament artists and musicians were supported financially.

When you ask them to serve through the arts, tell them what to do and also how to do it. Don’t leave room for the creative process. Take, for example, a children’s Sunday school mural: “Tell them what it should look like, in fact, draw up plans first,” David Hooker said. Discourage improvisation; give artists a AAA road map.

Idolize artistic success. Add to the burden artists already feel by only validating the calling of artists who are “making it.”

Only validate art that has a direct application, for example, something that communicates a gospel message or can be used for evangelism. Artist Makoto Fujimura answers the following question in an interview at The High Calling: “How then do you see art as evangelism?” He says:

There are many attempts to use the arts as a tool for evangelism. I understand the need to do that; but, again, it’s going back to commoditizing things. When we are so consumer-driven, we want to put price tags on everything; and we want to add value to art, as if that was necessary. We say if it’s useful for evangelism, then it has value.

And, there are two problems with that. One, it makes art so much less than what it can be potentially. But also, you’re communicating to the world that the gospel is not art. The gospel is this information that needs to be used by something to carry it.

Only, that’s not the gospel at all. The gospel is life. The gospel is about the Creator God, who is an artist, who is trying to communicate. And his art is the church. We are the artwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works. If we don’t realize that fully, then the gospel itself is truncated and art itself suffers.

Do not allow space for lament. The artist’s call is to face the darkness while still believing in the light, to sense God’s silence and sorrow. Ruth Naomi Floyd asks, “How can artists of faith trace the darkness and pain of Good Friday to the joy of Sunday’s Resurrection?”

I could go on. Here are some more ways to discourage artists in the church:

  • Not setting reasonable boundaries.
  • Not allowing artists to experience creative freedom.
  • Asking the input of artists and deciding not to use it without an explanation.
  • Not giving artists the gift of real listening.
  • Not preaching and teaching the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ.

But the last item on my list is, in general, make artists not feel fully at home in the church.Most of the items on my list reflect a failure to understand art and to let art be art as a creative exploration of the potentialities of creation. This is a crushing burden because artists already know that as Christians they will not be fully at home in the world of art—they don’t worship its idols or believe its lies. N. T. Wright comments:

In my experience the Christian painter or poet, sculptor or dancer, is regularly regarded as something of a curiosity, to be tolerated, humoured even, maybe even allowed to put on a show once in a while. But the idea that they are, or could be, anything more than that—that they have a vocation to re-imagine and re-express the beauty of God, to lift our sights and change our vision of reality—is often not even considered.

So will you make a home for Christians called to be artists?

Please do what you can to accommodate them, because they are pointing us toward eternity. As W. David O. Taylor writes in For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts:

Whether through paint or sound, metaphor or movement, we are given the inestimable gift of participating in the re-creative work of the Triune God, anticipating that final and unimaginable re-creation of all matter, space, and time, the fulfillment of all things visible and invisible.


Coach Hal Mumme’s 2.0 Air Raid Offense Comes to BU

From The Clarion Ledger (1.22.14)

When the Belhaven job opened in late December, Hal Mumme wasn’t planning on leaving Southern Methodist University.

The 61-year-old, who was the assistant head coach and passing game coordinator at the Division I school near Dallas, knew good things about Belhaven through a former assistant and Blazers coach, Dennis Roland. But Mumme hadn’t been in Jackson for years.

After talking to coaching contacts and friends in the Jackson area, the “Air Raid” innovator found the head coaching job at the NAIA school more appealing. The school announced Mumme’s hiring last Friday and introduced the former Kentucky coach at a Tuesday press conference.

“The allure of being a head coach and being able to run the program was really important to me,” Mumme said. “I felt, in talking to (president) Dr. (Roger) Parrott, (vice president for athletics) Scott (Little), that Belhaven felt right. It seems like a great place. I look forward to winning a lot of football games and representing Belhaven in all the ways they want to be represented.”

When news first leaked that Mumme was leaving the Division I ranks for Belhaven, it stunned numerous football pundits. The natural question was: Why would Mumme leave a major FBS coaching position at SMU for Belhaven?

Mumme saw the reaction. But he said that those who know him best weren’t surprised by his decision. They knew how much he loved coaching small colleges. He got his first head coaching job at Iowa Wesleyan, another NAIA school. He had considerable success at McMurry (Division III) and Valdosta State (Division II).

“I’ve always enjoyed (small colleges),” he said. “It’s probably the most gratifying coaching.”

Mumme’s most famous pupil wasn’t surprised by the move, either.

Tim Couch, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist and the No. 1 pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, remembers Mumme liking to call all the shots when the two were at Kentucky together. It was there, in the SEC, that Mumme took his Air Raid offense to the masses and made Couch a household name. Mumme guided the program to two bowl games and wins over top programs like LSU and Alabama before later resigning after an internal investigation revealed recruiting violations.

Couch, who now works as an analyst for Fox Sports South, appreciates his time under Mumme.

“He’s cutting edge,” Couch said. “He’s an innovator in the passing game. He’s always a step ahead of defenses. He’s always on the attack. He’s going to do whatever it takes to win. He’s very confident and very aggressive. He’s the type of guy whose system is proven. Wherever he’s been, his offense has put up big numbers. As a quarterback, that’s what you want to be in.”

At Belhaven, Mumme promises to unveil “Air Raid II.” He wouldn’t give any hints about it Tuesday, but Couch expects it to incorporate some of SMU coach June Jones’ run-and-shoot offense. Mumme has also kept up with some of his Air Raid proteges like Washington State’s Mike Leach and West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen and tweaked his offense over the years.

But the offense will still be heavily predicated on short passes. The Air Raid is Mumme’s bread-and-butter, and he isn’t changing that at his seventh head college coaching job.

The coaching nomad does hope to stick around for awhile, too.

“I’ve been fortunate to be the head coach at a lot of places,” Mumme said. “I’d like this to be the last one.”

Academy Award Nominated Singer to Speak (and sing) at BU March 1 – Joni Eareckson Tada

From Christianity Today (1/17/14)

A Hollywood nod to a Christian film has come as a shock to the entertainment world, as the song “Alone Yet Not Alone” (from the movie by the same name) was nominated for an Oscar.

The song beat out Coldplay, Taylor Swift, and Lana Del Ray to join the other four nominees for best original song: Frozen’s “Let it Go”; U2’s “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” from Despicable Me 2; and Karen O’s “The Moon Song” from Her.

What’s more surprising, however, may be the person who performed the song in the end credits: Joni Eareckson Tada, quadriplegic Christian author and speaker, and one of CT’s “50 Women You Should Know.” (A video of Tada singing the song is below.)

The Los Angeles Times reports the song may have been nominated because it played a crucial, recurring role in the film. Bruce Broughton, a winner of multiple Emmy awards and a previous Oscar nominee (Silverado), was one of the composers.

Broughton also is a previous music branch governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as a chair of the music branch. (Deadline claims Broughton made phone calls to his connections within the academy to consider the song). William Ross, composer of the film’s score, has been a past music director for the Academy Awards as well.

Vanity Fair interviewed Broughton, who said, “I am not known as a songwriter—most composers don’t get a chance to write songs. Because it is a faith-based film, it is probably the first one of its sort to get a nomination. And because it is for my song, it is particularly sweet.”

The nomination has received negative reactions not for its quality, but for the film’s endorsements by James Dobson, Rick Santorum, and Josh Dugger, executive director of Family Resource Council Action, among others. Film.com framed the movie as endorsed by “anti-gay hate group activists,” while the Boston Globeheadline reads, “The Oscar nomination that stinks to heaven.” Hitflix writes: “There were audible gasps and chuckles when Cheryl Boone Isaacs began reading the list of nominees in the category, and first off the bat was “Alone Yet Not Alone” from, er, Alone Yet Not Alone…It doesn’t seem a stretch to call this Christian drama the most obscure feature film nominated for an Oscar this year.”

But Ken Wales, one of the producers of the film, told CT that the nomination comes “by the grace of God,” and that regardless of the outcome, “to God be the glory.” Wales, who also produced Amazing Grace­­—the acclaimed film about William Wilberforce—as well as Christya mid-90s TV show—said the song will be performed live during the March 2 Academy Awards event.

The film, based on the book by Tracy Leininger Craven, recounts the story of a German family immigrating to America in mid-1700s.

In 2010, CT discussed Alone Yet Not Alone as a film that “recognizes the power of hymns,” specifically in reference to the Oscar-nominated song. The film will be released in theaters nationwide this June.

CT regularly reports on the Oscars and Christian films, including why a Christian film received an R-rating.

CT also interviewed Tada and her husband about their marriage following the release of the couple’s book, Joni and Ken: An Untold Love Story.

Additional reporting by CT editor-at-large Mark Moring.

Below is a video of Tada performing the Oscar-nominated song:

Not Too Late To Get a Flu Shot

I got my flu shot this weekend at a local pharmacy…..then saw this in the Clarion Ledger today and glad I did.

This year’s flu strain is not one to ignore:

The highly contagious upper respiratory virus spreads easily in public areas where people may cough or sneeze, said Dr. Andrew Eisenberg, medical adviser to Families Fighting Flu. Often, 20 percent of the population can become infected. The younger subset, exposed to the pandemic strain and without prior immunity or vaccination, have robust immune systems but end up dying because of their exaggerated response to infection, he said.

“We are seeing it — and this is nationwide — in people under the age of 65,” Dobbs said. “It alarms us that, of the people that we’ve looked at that have died, not a one of them has received a flu shot.”

It takes two weeks to become effective after you receive the shot, so don’t put it off.

Our Belhaven University employee insurance covers the cost in full.

Joe Rooks urged friends on Facebook to get the flu vaccine.flu

After a trip to the emergency room, a doctor’s heads-up on flu deaths, a night he thought he might become one and a week of missed work, Joe Rooks of Raymond knows: This flu strain is nothing to play around with.

He posted an ER pic of himself on Facebook as a public service announcement, urging friends to get the flu vaccine.

“I have had probably one flu shot in 20 years,” Rooks said. He hadn’t gotten flu in a while, so figured, why bother? His Saturday cough and scratchy throat progressed to pretty bad in a day. By Tuesday, he was much worse and in a doctor’s office, feeling faint, nauseated and throwing up blood. They sent him to the emergency room.

His ER doctor told him two 30-year-olds had died from flu there already this season, a 52-year-old man next door had been put on life support, and it was “critical” that people get the flu shot, said Rooks, who’d turned 52 just days before.

“It can hit you fast, and it can kill you,” the Revell Ace Hardware co-owner said Friday, still recovering at home from his brutal bout. “It’s not something I would wish on my worst enemy.”

Read the rest HERE

Rwandan Belhaven student gives back to his country

Belhaven, along with more than a dozen other US universities, hosts several of Rwanda’s brightest students through an exchange program. But what about Rwandan students who are interested in a good university education, but don’t have the English scores to qualify for entrance into a US university? Belhaven student Anselme (Nathan) Mucunguzi has started a foundation to help 25 rural Rwandans prepare for entrance exams each year. The brilliance of the foundation, called Inspire Scholars Foundation, is that it does not waste money. Each summer, ISF’s team (made of Rwandan students pursuing a university education abroad) goes to Rwanda to select 25 highly motivated eleventh grade students attending schools located in rural areas. During each school break, they organize an intensive English course for the selected students. Each course is taught by teachers whose native language is English. ISF’s first English course is scheduled for the 9th to 20th  of December 2013.

Mucunguzi’s foundation was recently featured in a story at The New Times Rwanda.  Click here for the full story.

To give to the foundation, go to their website Inspire Scholars Foundation