Portland - Dr. Garry Friesen, beloved Multnomah University professor of Bible and Theology for the past 37 years, has been selected as the Commencement Speaker for MU’s Spring 2013 graduation ceremony happening May 10, at Rolling Hills Church in Tualatin, Oregon. His selection marks the first time a current professor has been chosen to lead the ceremony.
Dr. Friesen has been a pillar within the MU community since 1976, and will be retiring from his position as professor in Bible and Theology to will teach full time at Africa College of Theology in Kigali, Rwanda.
Dr. Garry “Dr. G” Friesen
Peer into his entrepreneurial resume - B.A. from John Brown University, Masters and Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary, Academic dean, chair of the council of elders at Imago Dei Community, professor, mentor - and you’ll see that Dr. Garry Friesen, mythologized as Dr. G by his students, is quite a bit more than just the beloved professor that taught the Pentateuch for the last 37 years at Multnomah University. He’s a blessing from God; and not in disguise. From the outset of his professorship at MU that began in 1976, Dr. Friesen made apparent his ultimate intention of loving, building, and edifying the body of Christ in whatever way possible. In the form of community and relationship building, teaching, and academia formulation Dr. Garry Friesen has been a pillar of godly living in the MU community.
Making History at MU
Dr. Friesen taught the Pentateuch for 35 straight years to myriads of MU freshman; however, he would say he was teaching the students, and the Bible class was the reason for meeting. His passion to teach and touch the mind and hearts of students kept him motivated, invested for nearly four decades. He taught Spiritual Gifts courses as well as the course The Life and Thought of CS Lewis; It must be mentioned that he is a C.S. Lewis enthusiast and expert - His master thesis at Dallas Seminary was centered on C.S. Lewis’ theology and teachings.
One of Dr. Friesen’s most significant contributions as an Academic Dean was his involvement in the design, development, and implementation of MU’s Academic Deans Council (ADC) - a group of administrative and educational leaders who offer input and advice to the Academic Dean. Through collaborative effort, Dr. Friesen and the ADC found and hired great teachers: Wayne Strickland, Ray Lubeck, Brad Harper, Karl Kutz, Doug Schaak, Domani Pothen, and past professors Tom and Bonnie Kopp, and Jeff Arthurs. “I have many fond memories of discussions, meetings, lunches, and retreats with Dr. G and the ADC,” Professor Dave Jongeward said. “I would have to say that being part of the ADC and the relationships we’ve had over the years is one of the fondest memories and highlights of my 28 years here at MU.”
Dr. Friesen was a major proponent in the creation of The Norm and Muriel Mission Scholarship, the Holly Miller Missions Scholarship for students, and the Lonie Friesen-Tucker Bible Scholarship.
From his involvement in Days of Prayer, to his personal mentorship and housing of male MU students in his home, Dr. Friesen not only invested himself into the academic portion of Multnomah, but into the community aspect as well - He loved his students and sought to be a part of and edify their lives. He seeks (and enjoys) many opportunities to talk to and hang out with students on campus - Dr. G isn’t shy. He loves to hang out with students during lunches, after classes, Days of Prayer and Outreach, and after chapels.
For the last twelve years, Dr. Friesen housed and mentored over 80 men in ‘Aslan’s How’, his C.S. Lewis, Narnia themed home: he fellowshipped with MU men, mentored them, taught and encouraged them, assisted them with the rigors of life, and helped them in their walk to become men of God.
Dr. Friesen’s love of community and fellowship wasn’t only given to the students, but to the faculty at Multnomah:
“Garry speaks with a hopefulness and joy in the Lord that is both inspiring and contagious,” Bible and Theology Division Chair Dr. Brad Harper said. “I have often told people that Garry is the only person I know whose attitude and demeanor is so positive that he can listen to one of your ideas, think it is totally unworkable and ridiculous, tell you so, and yet you leave thinking that somehow you have been complemented.”
“Garry is very warm and welcoming - he immediately welcomed me to the Multnomah faculty as a new teacher in 1977 (he was new as well given that he had started just a year earlier on faculty),” History Department Chair Dr. Dan Scalberg said. “He is very easy to get along with as he is accepting of all people regardless of differences.”
Dr. Friesen is also an avid basketball fan who frequently attends MU Lion’s basketball games. From his love for basketball, in the 1980’s he helped start MU ‘noon ball’, the group of guys that play basketball around noon in the gym, which is still going strong today.
From his entrenchment in MU’s academic curriculum, to his mentorship and housing of students in his home, to his book ‘Decision Making and the Will of God’, to the care and love he exhibits towards his fellow faculty and professors, Dr. Friesen’s intentions of building, edifying, and loving the body of Christ through forming and strengthening relationships and through teaching is apparent here at Multnomah. He is truly a man of God that has sought to love and build up the people that he loves.
Dr. Friesen Quotes
“Multnomah students are my favorite. They are sacrificing to come to college and learn the Bible. So, motivated Bible students for a Bible teacher is like a dream come true. I love to be with students for class, lunches, Days of Prayer and especially Days of Outreach. Having six men students in my house, Aslan’s How, for the last 12 years has been one of the best things that I have ever experienced.”
“Students have changed, but the joy of watching the lights come on and the Bible making sense will always be a highlight for me. Someone asked me why I did not get tired of teaching Pentateuch for 35 straight years. Finally, I realized that I’m not teaching the Pentateuch. I’m teaching students and the Bible class is our reason for meeting. Students are new every year and so teaching them will never get old to me.”
“Multnomah has been my dream job, blessing me with joy of teaching my passion, Scripture, and my hobby, C.S. Lewis.”
Quotes and Memories from Professors
What I have enjoyed most about working with Garry Friesen over the last 14 years is his joyfulness. No matter what is going on in life he greets me every day with a smile. In meetings, even when we are dealing with heavy topics, Garry speaks with a hopefulness and joy in the Lord that is both inspiring and contagious.
One of the favorite memories was going to sporting events together (University of Oregon Duck football, Trailblazers Basketball, seeing the "Dream Team" play, and Portland Beavers Baseball games in the old stadium in downtown Portland). Another was our team leading holiday study tours to England and France together, which we did for a number of years, taking people to Oxford to see all the CS Lewis sites.
I admire his sincere devotion to Christ and active commitment to the study of scripture. I was very impressed and favorably impacted by Garry's book Decision Making.
- Dan Scalberg
Dr. G also has a deep love for students. His classroom and teaching style demonstrates this; his presence at basketball games and many other extracurricular school activities also reflects his love for students; and his ongoing desire to live with and mentor students in “The How” shows his love for students and his passion to hang out with them and impact their lives on a personal basis.
Dr. G has been one of the most influential and significant faculty colleagues in my life. I love this man!! And I will deeply miss his presence, his energy, his creativity, and his passion on this campus and in my life.
- Dave Jongeward
Dr. Friesen will be the commencement Speaker for Multnomah University’s 2013 Spring Semester graduation on May 10. This will mark the first time a current Multnomah professor was selected to be commencement speaker. The event will be held at Rolling Hills Community Church in Tualatin, OR 97062.
Friesen Fortnightly – Dr. Friesen’s blog
Dr. Garry Friesen MU profile