Clothe Yourselves with Love

 

Jana Coombs, of Coweta County Georgia, reported in her viral Facebook post that her heart was breaking for her 5-year-old boy who works so hard to adapt to a virtual learning format. She posted a picture of her son so frustrated that he put his head down on the table and started crying in his virtual Kindergarten. Coombs said she was just as frustrated with virtual learning as her son. She said that she took the picture because she wanted people to see the reality of what many parents and their children are facing.

What Mrs. Coombs describes is not an isolated instance.  There are children and parents all over the country feeling the same frustrations.  These frustrations are compounded by widespread social conflict, political posturing, and the global pandemic; multiple wounds that cannot heal with a simple Band-Aid.  To bring healing solutions we all need to act together with mindfulness, unity and peace. The approach to these solutions begins with a change of clothes.

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians (Colossians 3: 12-14 NLT) he tells us what kinds of garments we need to put on as citizens of the Kingdom of God. Think of these as visible ways we are identified as Christ’s apprentices much like fans who wear the jerseys of their favorite teams. Because we have been chosen and set apart as one body to do the work of Christ, Paul writes that we “must clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…Above all, clothe [our]selves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Being mindful to put on these garments leads us to take certain actions that will begin to heal these cultural wounds.

By clothing ourselves in these garments we as parents, teachers, and Indiana Wesleyan University Alumni, can help children cope with the struggles of online learning within the context of these uncertain times.  The following are the types of actions we can take to make these unusual circumstances beneficial. Therefore, clothe yourself with:

Tenderhearted Mercy – This garment demonstrates a sympathetic understanding for the current situation of the child.  Children may not be able to describe their feelings accurately but they are definitely affected by the isolation and unusual procedures of online learning and the restrictions of social distancing and mask wearing. Acknowledging this feeling will go a long way to help the child feel heard.  Make a flexible study schedule with planned fun breaks to play a game, move around, read a good book, or have a nutritious snack.

Kindness – Increasingly our culture seems to lack this garment.  This is especially seen on social media sites.  Children need to feel they are safe and appreciated.  Remove any barriers to learning, give them the attention they need, but give them the space to work independently.  Create a learning place or “office” set aside exclusively for their home learning. Make a desk set together to keep all of their needed supplies. Give this space dignity but keep it from distractions and clutter.

Humility – This is not the time for hubris.  No one has all the knowledge and expertise to function under these circumstances.  If you are a parent, talk to the teacher and get help in supporting your child.  If you are a teacher, don’t try to transplant the exact model you do in your face-to-face classroom to an online delivery system.  They are not the same. There is significant research to be found on online learning.  Take the time to discover what is successful and then tweak it to make the method your own.

Gentleness – The strong are the ones who can authentically demonstrate gentleness. Use your strength to express sensitivity and not allow your frustration to spill over on to your child or student.  A genuine smile and an encouraging word can soothe a tense situation.  Your tone of voice, even more than the words you say, bring calm.  If tensions rise, take a break and do something different until calm returns.

Patience – Our natural response to stress is to react by fighting, fleeing, or freezing.  Children may add to this by acting out or zoning out. You may think they are defying you or are becoming argumentative, but this is their way of survival.  You may be surprised at their uncharacteristic behavior but be patient.  Use your creativity and wisdom to find a smoother path to completion.

Above all Love – Experiencing your steady support, even though there are setbacks and arguments, will sustain your children or students through the challenges of today and beyond. With the garment of sacrificial love, your patience, and respect, they will learn even in these scary times.  Because of your loving actions they will grow stronger and develop greater resilience and then, when future challenges come, they will have the grit to meet those challenges and succeed.

Written by Dr. John McCracken
Professor in the School of Teacher Education

Homecoming 2020: Postponed

 

 

 

 

Due to the current situation caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic, Indiana Wesleyan University has made the decision to limit large gatherings on campus to ensure the health and safety of our current students, employees and our valued alumni.  With the decision, we are pushing Homecoming reunions and celebrations to 2021.  Once more details become available, we will inform you of the new dates and times to celebrate your years at Marion College/IWU.

Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to gathering again soon!

IWU Statement on Race and Redemption

 

On behalf of the Indiana Wesleyan University community I must begin by acknowledging and lamenting the pain and suffering of the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd who have lost their loved ones through violent and unjust actions.  They are but the latest in a crowd of witnesses to the sorrow born from the fruits of injustice in our nation.

I also want to lift up and grieve over the pain, anger, and frustration felt by the African American and other minority students, faculty, and staff of our own IWU community.  They bear burdens of discrimination and injustice that most of us in the majority population can scarcely imagine, let alone have to bear.  It should not be so.  But it is so.  We must name this truth and grieve over the unhealed wound of racism that continues to plague our nation, and extend its influence into our own beloved community.

In the past I have spoken personally, and as President, about these matters.  Today I must speak about where Indiana Wesleyan University stands as a Christ-centered academic community committed to changing the world.  We cannot be silent.  We will not turn away.

First, we must acknowledge that the horrific acts of violence we are witnessing, and the more hidden but still present discriminatory realities persons of color face on a regular basis, are not accidents.  They are the products of the persistent racism that remains deeply rooted in the soul and systems of our great nation.  As Christian people, we cannot turn away from this reality.  The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  We have sinned and our nation has sinned.  Proverbs 10:19 says, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words.”  The only way we can break the hold of sin on our personal lives, and on the life of our nation, is to turn from evil, put our faith in the redeeming power of Jesus, and embrace the righteousness to which he calls us.

Second, IWU is shaped by the rich spiritual heritage of the Wesleyan movement which overtly rejects all forms of sinful favoritism, whether of race, class, or gender.  Sadly, IWU has not always lived up to that heritage.  We have gone through long stretches when we have allowed policies and practices that contradicted that heritage.  Even now, all too often, students and employees of color tell us that they feel invisible and unincluded.  Still, through our 100 years of existence, there have been those who witnessed to the best of our values and called us to the creation of a beloved community that reflects the spirit of Jesus Christ.  Our denominational leaders and our Board of Trustees expect us to be a community that rejects all forms of racism and favoritism.  For the record, let me state unequivocally, IWU is a community dedicated to racial inclusion and equity.  We have no tolerance at all for the sins of racism and favoritism.  We know that violence will not produce the justice, peace, and prosperity we long to see.  We must come together to reject racism, eschew violence, and work diligently for the better community to which God calls us.

Third, In the last ten years we have made great progress.  I thank my predecessor, President Henry Smith, for setting this agenda in motion, and all of those who have worked sacrificially over the past decade to move us forward.  While we are not where we were ten years ago, we are not where we must be next year. To that end, over the coming months I will be asking our administration, faculty, and staff to work on five projects.

  • Purse – Money will not defeat racism.  But we must be sure we are providing the resources necessary to support our pursuit of inclusive excellence.  I will be asking our administrative leaders for an accounting of all resources we are committing to this work.  Then we will decide the level of funding needed to advance the work today.
  • Presence – We are becoming a more diverse community.  While our highest administrative councils now have diverse representation, we must accelerate this diversification of leadership perspectives.  Therefore, I will require each senior administrative leader to ensure that their cabinets include substantive representation of racial and ethnic diversity.  As an example, I will be adding Dr. Michael Moffitt (Special Assistant to the President for Corporate and Community Relations) to the President’s Executive Council.
  • Policies/Practices – The policies and practices by which we operate must accord with our stated goals for inclusive excellence.  In the coming weeks I will ask for a thorough review to identify any policies and practices that either hinder or do not promote our goals for inclusive excellence, and to provide me with proposals for positive change.  In particular, I will ask our IWU Human Resources Department to propose further changes in our hiring practices to ensure that we are hiring from diverse candidate pools.
  • Public Influence – Colleges and universities such as IWU are some of the oldest and most influential organizations in the communities they serve.  As such, we have a responsibility to collaborate with our local officials, law enforcement, and service agencies to constructively address the issues of race that impede the social, spiritual, and economic progress of our communities.  To this end, I have invited the presidents of other Christian universities in northcentral Indiana to join in a community summit to better understand our needs and to advance the progress of justice and equity in our state.  This is an unfolding discussion that will remain a high priority for me in coming months.
  • Promotion – For the past seven years I have stood on the stage at our IWU graduation ceremonies and shaken the hands of thousands upon thousands of IWU graduates who are African American and other minority men and women.  Among our more than 90,000 IWU alumni are thousands of brilliant, influential, engaged persons of color who are a living testimony to the potential of our nation.  In coming months, I will be seeking creative proposals for how we might use our rich network of alumni to promote African American and other minority professionals, businesses, and persons.

Can we imagine an America in which we will one day look back on the death of George Floyd as a turning point, a distant memory of a time when our great nation turned decisively from the ravages of racism?  I believe this is our hope and our calling.  Indiana Wesleyan University commits itself to work toward that hope.  We are called to be an embassy of heaven.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” (John 3:16-17, MSG)

A Message from President Dr. Wright: Better Days

Spring is coming to central Indiana. It’s a beautiful time of year when our minds normally turn to commencement ceremonies, job searches or promotions, and summer vacations.

This past Saturday, our normal Spring Commencement day, marked an historic milestone for all of us at IWU. It was the end of the first time in our history when IWU finished the traditional academic year teaching all classes remotely. It was a bittersweet day.

The day represented so much of what has been taken from us by this terrible pandemic.

But it also represented an astounding achievement by IWU faculty, students and staff. All through the day I enjoyed seeing the celebrations graduates posted on Facebook and other media.

Despite everything this pandemic threw at you, by God’s grace, it has not defeated you!

 Now our thoughts turn to the future. I want you to know that our teams are hard at work right now planning for summer and fall activities all across the IWU community.

    • We are planning to celebrate “Spring” commencement on August 22 with National & Global, Wesley Seminary, and Marion
    • IWU-Marion faculty and staff are preparing to welcome new and returning students to campus this
    • We are working to make the Marion campus and our regional education centers available for conferences and camps in the second half of the

We have two primary goals. The first is to continue to keep students, employees, and community workers safe. The second is to allow students to continue their education uninterrupted.

We are even now identifying the specific ways our activities will need to change in order to safeguard the health of our community as we move forward. Our plans are based on the best practices identified by public health, medical, governmental, and other authoritative sources. Those plans will grow, and may change, as new developments arise. We will keep you informed as we move forward.

Some may ask why we are planning aggressively for the future.

There are times in our lives when great disruptions come. They seldom come with the scope and impact of this pandemic. We grieve for the suffering and loss it has brought. We cannot move forward without acknowledging and lamenting our losses. But we do move forward.

While this pandemic is a formidable foe that has done historic damage to our families and our economy, at IWU we are absolutely convinced that good will prevail. In fact, we believe that our country will rise to this challenge just like we have to every other challenge in our history.

IWU people have been and will continue to be at the center of the fight. Thousands of our alumni and students are among the first-line responders to the pandemic. They are putting their lives at risk every day to care for the ill, and to keep necessary services in place.

Our faculty and staff are, even now, creating some of the most innovative programs we’ve ever offered to prepare new generations of world changers, to get our nation back to work, bolster our social services, and recreate the fabric of our communities.

Please join us as we pray for wisdom and courage both to fight the current pandemic, and to plan well for the future. We will use every available resource to make IWU a place of safety and a place of learning, fostering a faith-filled outlook on the future, pursuing ingenuity and persistence until we see the better days that are coming.

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

University Chorale & Wind Ensemble: On Tour

February 29th through March 8th 2020 is sure to be a week filled with music as the Indiana Wesleyan University Chorale and the Wind Ensemble go on their spring break tours!

The University Chorale is an 80-voice ensemble composed of students from all fields of study. Previously, the Chorale has toured across Europe- having performed in Scotland, France, England, and many other locations. This spring break, they will be touring across Florida.

Meanwhile, the IWU Wind Ensemble will be going on their biyearly-spring break tour. The Wind Ensemble utilizes a wide variety of musical styles in their performances, which have included concerts in 17 different states across the U.S. The Ensemble has recorded several albums, and has been featured at the Indiana Music Educators Convention in Indianapolis.

Come enjoy a concert if you are in the area! Tour itineraries for both groups are linked below:

University Chorale Tour Itinerary

University Wind Ensemble Tour Itinerary

New Life Found in Mourning, Mandy Ogunnowo’s Story

 

Some people think that a life lived on mission for Christ must involve travelling to distant countries to serve as a missionary. However, for Mandy Ogunnowo, a 2008 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, a life of missional living simply means being flexible and open to God’s calling to serve the people around her each and every day to make a difference in her community.

After becoming a Christian at age sixteen, Ogunnowo found herself living a rather lukewarm Christian life; she merely went through the motions of her faith without seeing it make a substantial difference in who she was. She tended to keep her life compartmentalized, with her work life, social life, and spiritual life rarely overlapping. The Lord opened the eyes of her heart in the fall of 2015 after witnessing the final months of a close friend’s father’s life. Deeply saddened by Jerry’s death, Ogunnowo returned to her hometown of Lawrence, Kansas for the memorial service, and there she saw something extraordinary. While the family was deeply grieving for their loved one, Ogunnowo witnessed the strength and courage that the Gospel gave them as they celebrated Jerry’s life with joy and hope. Hearing Jerry’s family boldly share their hope in Jesus, even in their time of mourning, deeply touched Ogunnowo’s heart, and the Lord used the experience to reignite a passion for following Him with her whole heart, soul, mind and strength.

Since then, Ogunnowo has become a powerful force of change in her community. Through her job as an IT consultant for the Secretary of State in Indianapolis, Indiana, she is able to interact with many people in both the public and private sector. She freely shares her faith with those around her and is always prepared to give a reason for the hope within her. Additionally, Ogunnowo is a member of Nehemiah Bible Church and serves as the Program Manager in the Church’s outreach ministry called Kids Church – a VBS style, Saturday service committed to proclaiming the Gospel to the community’s marginalized neighborhood youth and their families. This includes hundreds of children who attend the service throughout the year. She no longer views her faith and the other aspects of her life as being separate; rather, she tries to achieve excellence in her career as part of her ministry of glorifying God.

As Ogunnowo’s heart continues to be drawn closer to the Lord every day, she plans to move into a community house and disciple young women who are transitioning into adulthood. Ogunnowo continues to follow God’s Spirit wherever He leads her as she continues to be a shining light in her workplace and in her community.

Alumni Award Descriptions and Criteria

Indiana Wesleyan University is graced with thousands of alumni who are changing the world for the glory of Jesus Christ.  The following array of awards expands the Alumni Association’s recognition of achievement in a way that intentionally honors alumni from each of the three University’s academic units.  Doing so encourages broader alumni engagement and showcases the breadth of impact Indiana Wesleyan University alumni are having on the world.

Award Categories

Distinguished “World Changer” Alumni Award

This is the pinnacle alumni award granted to an alumnus or alumna who has lived a life in submission and service to Christ and has exhibited a contagious passion for world change that permeates every part of their life as they shine light in this lost and broken world. They demonstrate an exceptional level of excellence in serving his or her profession, community, church, or alma mater in the spirit of Jesus Christ. The life of this individual serves as an inspiration for future generations.

The recipient would speak or be interviewed at the Homecoming Banquet and, possibly, Homecoming Chapel.  He or she will also be recognized at halftime of the Homecoming football game, on the Alumni World Changer Wall in the rotunda of Jackson Library, at www.indwes.edu, and in Triangle Magazine.

Distinguished Alumni Award – Marion Campus

The nominated individual for this award is an alumnus or alumna from the Indiana Wesleyan University’s home campus in Marion, IN.  He or she exhibits excellence in serving their profession, community, church, or alma mater in the spirit of Jesus Christ. This individual has continued to live out the mission of the university in his or her life in the years following graduation from the university. He or she will be recognized at the Homecoming Banquet, halftime of the Homecoming football game, at www.indwes.edu, and in Triangle Magazine.

Distinguished Young Alumni Award – Marion Campus

This award will be granted to an alumnus or alumna who graduated within the last 10 years from the university’s home campus located in Marion, Indiana and also meet all other criteria set above for the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Distinguished Wesley Seminary Alumni Award

This award will be granted to an alumnus or alumna of the Wesley Seminary who has lived out the call God has placed on their lives in serving his or her profession, community, church, or alma mater in the spirit of Jesus Christ.  This individual exhibits excellence in his or her pursuit of faith in action for the sake of seeing the lost get found. He or she will be recognized at the Homecoming Banquet, halftime of the Homecoming football game, at www.indwes.edu, and in Triangle Magazine.

To ensure we are nominating and selecting alumni from the appropriate areas of study for each award, we have included the various programs within The Wesley Seminary:

–           Master of Divinity

–           Master of Arts

–           Doctor of Ministry

–           Master of Practical Theology

Distinguished Alumni Award – National & Global

This award will be granted to an alumnus or alumna of the Online, Adult and/or Graduate College who has dedicated themselves to shine brighter in the workplace, community and home by the spirit of Jesus Christ.  He or she will be recognized at the Homecoming Banquet, at www.indwes.edu, and in Triangle Magazine.

Transforming Communities Through Art: VerLee’s Story

Lorelei VerLee, a 1972 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University for Art Education has had a very adventurous life. Her parents were students at IWU and served as missionaries in Japan, where VerLee spent her entire childhood. Her mother also earned an art degree and used it often in her work abroad. Largely because she did not want to simply follow her parents’ path, she ended up attending Houghton College for her freshman year. However, her boyfriend, who later became her husband, was an IWU student and ended up convincing her to transfer.

VerLee became very close to Ardelia Williams who was head of the art department. Williams became her mentor and friend and was integral in helping VerLee develop her passions to use her love of art to help people escape poverty and marginalization globally. VerLee also had the unique honor of being the next art graduate after her own mother—between VerLee’s mom and herself, there were no other students at IWU to graduate with an art degree, so they were “back to back” art graduates. The art department was built up largely by Williams and VerLee was happy to be there as it began to grow and flourish.

Because VerLee grew up in Japan, she already had a global mindset coming into college. She knew she wanted to be involved in the work God was doing globally, but she did not have the passion to do it through traditional missionary work. Her parent’s model of respectful ministry was very effective. Rather than imposing a western style faith experience, they worked to support the Japanese perspective and cultural context.  She approached her hopes, then, with an idea of serving others however she could. This led her to what she is currently doing.

VerLee founded Creative Women of the World (CWOW) which sends people into communities and helps women see what skills they already have that could be profitable. This helps empower women to realize that they have a choice and that they are capable of supporting their families and communities simply by using the talents they already possess. VerLee supplements these passions and skills with business training so that they can truly succeed. As the old adage goes, “Give a person a fish and they will eat for a day. Teach a person to fish and they will eat for a lifetime.” But CWOW says, “Teach a woman how the fishing industry works, and she’ll change the world!”

Before VerLee began her time working globally she was a public-school teacher in the states for ten years. This experience helped equip her for CWOW, since it helped her to develop her skills as an educator. She also worked on a number of small businesses while she was in education. One business in particular, a handmade greeting card company she helped start in 1989, was particularly successful. In the midst of her educational and business ventures, however, VerLee sensed a calling to return to her original dream: helping others through art.

After her children grew up and moved out of the house, she began going on missions trips, and she ended up was on an email list that changed her entire life. VerLee got an email asking if there was anyone who was particularly artistic who would be willing to go to Haiti to work with women who lived in a remote village on the side of a mountain who wanted to start a greeting card company. VerLee knew right away this was God telling her to go—one month later she was living among these women; she had finally found her calling at 56 years old. After three years working with these women, (who have completely transformed their community), VerLee got asked to go help in other parts of the world with similar initiatives.

It was from that passion and the success she saw in Haiti that gave way to CWOW, which was officially started in 2011. There is also a boutique in Ft. Wayne of the same name, where people can purchase products from the women in communities all over the world. CWOW supports over 50 countries and encourages what they call “kinder consumption” or the selling of products that help care for the people that produce them. VerLee recently retired as the Executive Director of CWOW, though she still helps with international business training. She is currently focused on writing a book about the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual effects Japanese culture (particularly kanji, or Japanese symbols that represent words and concepts) had on her as she has lived her adult life in America.

https://www.gocwow.org/