It’s Founders’ Day, and the Judson community came together to celebrate its rich history and heritage.
The Friday event began with a grand celebration in Herrick Chapel. There was a formal procession of Judson’s administrators, faculty and guests. Triumphant praise and worship was ushered in by Associate Professor of Music Sojung Lee Hong on piano and Demoss Center for Worship in the Performing Arts Director Warren Anderson, who led the choir and congregation in songs.
There were remarks by Judson Board of Trustees Chair John Shales and a special song written and sung by student Tim Caffee, along with the Judson University Choir.
Judson President Dr. Gene Crume introduced the Rev. Dr. Albert L. Reyes, president and CEO of Buckner International, who provided an inspiring Convocation Address about finding Jesus in unexpected places.
Bucker International is a Dallas-based 137-year-old non-profit organization that helps vulnerable children, orphans and seniors who are in need around the world.
Dr. Reyes based his presentation on Luke 4 and Jesus’ first sermon. “Jesus shows up in his hometown of Nazareth,” he explained. “It is the most unanticipated agenda in the most unlikely place. Nazareth was stigmatized and out of the way. They didn’t realize it was Jesus.”
Reyes goes on to say, “You can be right there, and miss him. You can be in the choir, anywhere, and miss him.”
Dr. Reyes urged people to find Jesus in the unexpected. “The good news to the poor is that you don’t have to be poor anymore, and we can step in by doing something that helps them,” he suggested, taking a moment to share a video clip of a Guatemalan family that was in need.
“[Serving the poor] is what Jesus said he came to do. I wonder if we’ve forgotten that,” he continued. “We don’t ‘do’ poor people anymore. But I came today to tell you that Jesus shows up in the most unlikely place to draw us back. He changes hearts, not social systems. Changing hearts brings about change, and I have never found a better way to make a better person. The heart is an unlikely place.”
Following the formal service, Dr. Reyes joined local business people, alumni, staff, faculty, trustees and friends for a luncheon in the Campus Commons.
Judson President Dr. Gene Crume spoke of using our lives to shape the world.
Amid great food and fellowship, those gathered also witnessed Education Professor Kristen Stombres receive the Golden Eagle Award for her dedication and service to Judson and the community.
She was introduced by Graduate Programs in Literacy Director Dr. Steve Layne. “The year of 1985 began a remarkable arc of service and sacrifice,” he said of his colleague. He called Stombres someone of “outstanding, faithful service,” who is “dependable and reliable” to deliver everything from hard messages and classroom pranks to loaves upon loaves of pumpkin bread to students!
Professor Stombres is a 1979 graduate who has taught almost every course that future elementary teachers require in her 31 years as an instructor at Judson. She has also served as chair of the Parents in Reading Committee for the Illinois Reading Council, member of the Board of Directors for the Northern Illinois Reading Council and is a past-present of College Instructors of Reading Professionals. Professor Stombres has spoken nationally at state and community conferences about literacy and special education, and she has received the Northern Illinois Reading Council-Award for Excellence, CCCU-Outstanding Alumni Award and the Judson Distinguished Alumni Award.
Stombres gratefully accepted the award at the conclusion of the luncheon. “Thank you for this incredible honor,” she said graciously. “Thirty-one years has really gone by quickly. I feel that strong sense of community now more than I did back then. I thank you for this recognition.”
Judson University is a fully accredited, private Christian institution representing the Church at work in higher education. Nestled along the beautiful Fox River in Elgin, Ill., just 40 miles northwest of Chicago, Judson is home to more than 1,200 students from 33 states and 20 countries. Judson offers degrees in more than 65 different majors and minors for traditional, graduate and adult students and ranks consistently among the Best Regional Universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report. Judson has also been recognized as a “Christian College of Distinction.” With an academically challenging environment and encouraging spiritual community, Judson shapes lives that shape the world.