Alumni celebrate at Reunion 2019

Published 9:12 am Friday, July 5, 2019

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From staff reports

And that’s a wrap! Reunion 2019 came to a close Sunday afternoon after a weekend of reflecting on fond memories and the faithfulness of God, celebrating the groundbreaking of the Collaborative Learning Center (CLC) and saying goodbye to Asbury University President Sandra C. Gray prior to her retirement on June 30.

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Reunion 2019 brought nearly 1,500 alumni back to Asbury’s campus with class years between 1943 to 2022 represented.

Laughter, hugs and excited chatter filled Kinlaw Library Thursday afternoon as the weekend kicked off with registration. Guided tours of the Admissions Office, Archives, Joe Pitts Center for Public Policy, the Miller Center for Communication Arts and the Luce Center were given to alumni throughout Reunion.

During the weekend, the Viking Class of 1964 took an inspiring trip to the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky to mark their 55th Reunion; while the Knight Class of 1969 reunited for their 50th at a special dinner and gathering Thursday night.

Reunion 2019 Chapel services challenged alumni to reflect on the Lord’s faithfulness in times of transition, drawing on this year’s theme “He is Faithful.” Chapel speakers included Gray, Dr. Elaine Davis, Bernius and Dr. Mike Powers.

During Friday morning’s Chapel, Bernius shared about our call to live lives of holiness and how that call interacts with the Lord’s faithfulness.

“We constantly hear this attribute of God proclaimed,” Bernius said. “He is faithful, He is steady. He is sure. He is absolutely and unerringly true to who He is in His nature and in His character. Who He says He is, He will always be. What He says He will do; He will always do. He is the faithful God.”

On Saturday, Gray spoke at length about spiritual wealth and wisdom in Hughes Auditorium.

“I would invite you to join me in your own soul searching this morning, that God would expand our capacity to know Him, to serve Him and to leave this world a better place,” Gray said. “He has endowed us with significant wealth and riches beyond our comprehension, and so this last message I want to leave you with is the certainty that you are highly valued in the sight of the Lord and that you are rich beyond measure. The treasures in Him truly are extravagant.”

Alumni enjoyed taking part in events like Trivia Challenge hosted by Clint and Sarah Thomas Baldwin, a super-sweet Ice Cream Social and a fantastic fireworks show.

On Saturday evening, a concert and celebration in Hughes Auditorium honored Gray, along with her husband, Ken Gray, who works as an architect in Lexington. Guests enjoyed special music from a brass ensemble before the evening concert featuring Veritas, a classical crossover group whose repertoire included hymns and contemporary hits.

The event honored Dr. Gray through a video presentation as well as words of encouragement from Board of Trustees Chair Larry Brown and a short Q&A with Brown and the Grays. Asked what advice he would give to Maria Brown, Asbury’s incoming “first spouse,” Ken Gray advised hopeful anticipation.

“Be ready for things you can’t imagine will happen,” he said. “The Lord is full of surprises. Be prepared for the great things He can do.”

From beginning to end, Reunion 2019 offered alumni a chance to reconnect with the people and places that made their Asbury experience so meaningful.

Emma Swayne Butram, who majored in history and minored in Latin, was excited to be back on campus and participating in music-focused activities such as Hymn Sing as she was heavily involved with the Music Department as a student.

“I’ve loved getting to see old friends and see the campus, how things have changed and stayed the same at the same time,” Butram said. “Going to the Hymn Sing last night in Hughes was very wonderful.”

Butram enjoyed reflecting on her spiritual experiences as a student and remembers Asbury as the place where she truly learned to make her faith her own.

“I learned the importance of having a personal spiritual life and not just relying on your parents’ or the community’s Christian walk but your own and having to develop that relationship with God,” Butram said. “I was a cradle Christian but wasn’t really able to own it for myself fully until I came to college. I had to have a discipline of spending time in the word and listening to Him daily.”

Future Asburians spent the weekend at the Reunion Youth Program, doing a variety of age-appropriate activities ranging from swimming to exploring the outdoor ropes challenge courses.

Amidst all of the fun opportunities to reminisce and reflect throughout the weekend, Reunion also provided opportunities for Asburians to look toward the future of the University, as a groundbreaking ceremony for the CLC was held in Hughes Auditorium. Alumni also learned about University updates, including Ignited Campaign activities and were introduced to Asbury’s President Elect Kevin Brown.

Alumni have found themselves leaning into the faithfulness of God in a variety of ways since walking across the graduation stage at Asbury. But, at this year’s Reunion, it was clear that no matter where Asburians go to impact the world, they’ll always be welcomed home with open arms back to Asbury’s campus.