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Geneva Arnold: Finding a balance in Reno-Tahoe

Comments Off Written on December 1st, 2014 by
Categories: Seminary, Students

I’m too old. I don’t like school. It’s too much money. Geneva Arnold thought 2aup several excuses when she felt a pull toward seminary. “I’d had no vision for nine months,” she says. “But one day I was praying, and God told me to get a ministerial degree.”

Arnold was appalled. She came up with every reason not to go. Finally, thinking she’d found a way out, she decided to cut a deal. “I told God, ‘If you want me to go, then my husband has to be on board,’” she says. But when she told him, he surprised her. “Of course,” he said. “What else would you do?” And that was that. Arnold was going to seminary.

After spending the next four years earning her bachelor’s degree at local colleges, the time came to look for a seminary. Arnold was struck by the polar opposites she encountered. “There were some seminaries that made me wonder if they were Christian at all, while others were rigid and patriarchal,” she says. “When I settled in at MU, I found a balance. It has a good, scholarly environment that’s challenging. At the same time, there’s openness to innovation.”

Arnold was the first woman to attend the seminary at MU’s Reno-Tahoe campus. But rather than feel intimidated, she was empowered by the academic quality and close-knit community she found. “I felt respected in all the classes,” she says. “I’m impressed by the quality of the professors; they’re knowledgeable, and they sincerely love the Lord and the spiritual formation of their students. That is meaningful to me.”

Three years deep into the M.Div. program, Arnold is appreciating the depth of study she’s investing in the Scriptures. “I’m a better student of God’s Word,” she says. “I know how to read it better, ask questions of the text, mine out what God is saying and see it as an integrated whole. I loved the Bible before, but now I have expertise, confidence and the tools to find meaning and communicate it.”

But is biblical expertise important in a world that constantly questions the value of a seminary education? Arnold, who’s been attending churches for the past 30 years, says yes. “I do see a difference,” she says. “None of the pastors at the churches I attended had seminary degrees. I grew spiritually, but there was also damage, setbacks, mishandling and misunderstandings. None of those churches remain today. Those problems would have been settled if their leaders had a well-rounded education. They had the passion — but not the knowledge and wisdom.”

Although Arnold isn’t sure where God will lead her after graduation, she plans on diving into Christian conference and seminar work so she can travel nationally and internationally for speaking engagements. Wherever she ends up going, she’s confident that her education will have thoroughly equipped her for her calling. “You have to have something of everything,” she says. “And a seminary education gives people the broad-based education that they need for ministry today.”

New center offers low-cost counseling for community

Comments Off Written on November 25th, 2014 by
Categories: General

Counseling. Say the word to anyone, and pop-culture stereotypes abound. The Freudian therapist. The clingy client. The exorbitant fees. Many think counseling is a waste of time — or only for people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Master of Arts in Counseling student Riley Hall disagrees. “The needs people bring to counseling take on many forms,” he says. “Compare it to physical illness. Sometimes you get a cut on your finger that takes a few days to heal. But other times you might have a more serious issue that can cause harm if not treated. It’s the same with counseling.”

Hall is an intern at MU’s newly opened Community Counseling Center. Sandwiched between Sutcliffe Hall and Montavilla Park, the center meets two vital needs: training MAC interns and serving local community members with low-cost therapy.


Counseling Center Coordinator Chris Cleaver helped his interns develop a sliding scale that charges session fees based on clients’ household incomes. Cleaver says the scale makes counseling affordable for people who might not otherwise be able to pay for therapy. “I see this center as a gateway to our community,” he says. “Our interns have great training, and we’re passionate about serving people.”

The best way to serve, says Hall, is by building strong relationships with clients. “You don’t get nearer to someone’s heart than in a counseling room,” he says. “We’re here to provide a nonjudgmental ear and a place for them to give voice to their sorrows.”

Fellow intern Chelsea Thurlow agrees. “Unfortunately, it can be rare to have a relationship in which you feel heard without being judged,” she says. “Counseling is a safe relationship focused on you. It gives you accountability to set goals. It’s also helpful to talk with someone who’s not personally involved in your situation.”

Although Multnomah is a biblical university, the counseling center doesn’t cater to Christians exclusively. “We are still under the counseling code of ethics, which means we will never impose our beliefs on clients,” says Thurlow. “We’re not the authority in their life. Their values will be the weight in the room.”

Approaching counseling can seem defeating or embarrassing to some, but Thurlow feels honored to walk with people through their troubles. “I find joy in empowering them to take steps toward the changes they desire,” she says.

Hall concurs. “When left in the dark, issues can destroy someone’s life,” he says. “Counseling works because relationships are healing. It gives people their lives back.”

Learn more about the counseling center, check prices or make an appointment.

Ruben Alvarado: Striving to Serve

Comments Off Written on November 17th, 2014 by
Categories: Seminary, Students

Ruben Alvarado remembers when he told God “no.” The native Californian had been feeling a pull toward seminary, but he couldn’t bring himself to enroll. Higher education would demand countless hours of studying and class time, and Alvarado couldn't imagine fitting the obligation into life with his wife and son.

“I told God I couldn’t do it with my family,” he said. But he still felt God calling him. Half-heartedly, he began visiting seminaries. One in particular stood out to him. “Multnomah was the friendliest and the most inviting to families,” he says.

When Alvarado sat in on a class, he was impressed by how vulnerable the professor was. “He cared about his students beyond their grades — he cared about their spiritual wellbeing,” he says. “The faculty here really stood out to me.”

Alvarado’s family decided they would go for it. They packed their things and moved from California into campus housing. They have been thriving ever since. Both Alvarado and his wife landed part-time jobs at the university. Their home is only steps from the seminary. And they’re loving the vibrant neighborhood of believers they're a part of. “I’m living next to the people I study with,” Alvarado says. “Our kids play together. We’re all making life-long friends.”

'The professors give so much of themselves'ruben_main

Alvarado had always loved studying God’s Word, but MU’s Masters in Divinity program gave him a heightened appreciation for the Scriptures. “I’m growing more and more in love with the Bible,” he says. “And I get to learn from men and women who have dedicated their lives to studying the Word; they’re a model we all can strive to be like.”

Multnomah’s emphasis on strong student-faculty connections has meant a lot to Alvarado, who completes his M.Div. this December. “No matter how experienced the professors are, they’re still vulnerable enough to learn right alongside you,” he says. “They give their students opportunities to write with them, serve with them, study with them, travel with them. They give so much of themselves, and there’s no competition between any of them.”

Alvarado has had to wrestle with several challenges since becoming a seminary student, and the faculty’s support has helped him tremendously. “I’ve had almost all of my beliefs shaken,” he says. “I realized that many of my assumptions were ones I got because I read something or I was told something. But now I know why I believe the things I do, and I’m prepared to answer tough questions and handle hard times.”

'What we’re learning shouldn’t puff us up'

Being a full-time student, an employee, a father and a husband are significant roles for anyone, and Alvarado is committed to balancing his life in the best way possible. “It is hard to go through seminary when you have a family,” he says. “But I don’t think I’d learn as much or grow as much without coming home to my wife and son every night. I have a place where I can live out what I’m learning.”

Many seminary students have a hard time fitting their family and academic life together. Alvarado says it’s doable, but you have to be intentional.  “The key isn’t just prioritizing time with them — it’s also being 100 percent present when you’re next to them,” he says. “Don’t be with them physically, but be somewhere else in your mind.”

Alvarado used to be involved in several ministry projects outside of school, but he dropped most of them so he could be with his family more. For him, it’s just another way he’s applying his classroom lessons to real life. “I know a lot more now than I used to know, but I understand that it’s still only a fraction of what God knows,” he says. “Think about all the knowledge Jesus had and how he handled it. What we’re learning shouldn’t puff us up; it should make us want to serve more.”

And Alvarado will be serving more: He just started a job as executive assistant for Rick McKinley, MU professor and lead pastor at Imago Dei Community. “I'm excited to learn from and work with Rick,” Alvarado says. “I believe that the education I received — as well as the experiences I’ve had as a teacher’s assistant, tutor and student leader — have prepared me to step confidently into this new stage of my life.”

‘Keep going’: Sindy Larson races to nationals

Comments Off Written on November 11th, 2014 by
Categories: Athletics, Students

CrossCountry_thumbCross country is more than a sport to Sindy Larson. It’s a reflection of her spiritual journey. “Running helps me understand my walk with the Lord,” she says. “You need to be committed to it. We have to keep going through the pain.”

Larson has only been at MU a few months, but she’s positive she picked the right place to race. When the Orange County native was looking at colleges, she was impressed by Multnomah’s mission statement: equipping students to be biblically competent, academically proficient, spiritually formed and culturally engaged servant leaders. And when she visited, the campus community left a lasting impression.

“MU is Christ-centered,” says Larson. “We’re learning how to love the Lord, we’re praying in our classes and we’re seeing God’s work through our instructors. I’ve never experienced anything like this before in my life.”

‘Keeping our focus on the Lord’

For Larson, who ran competitively in high school, joining MU’s cross country team was icing on the cake. She began training with the Lions this summer and in September qualified for the NCCAA Cross Country National Championships. Larson is first woman from Multnomah to compete in the national race, which will take place in Houghton, N.Y., this Saturday. The men’s cross country team, which also qualified for nationals, will be joining her, along with Cross Country Coach David Lee.

“Coach Lee took us as we were and helped us grow from there,” says Larson. “He challenges us to be better. He’s so good at motivating us and keeping our focus on the Lord.”

‘Connecting deeply’

Concentrating on God is exactly what defines Larson’s cross country experience. She uses her lengthy runs as opportunities — quiet times — to connect with him through prayer. Her teammates only enhance the bond. “Being a part of this team has heightened my experience of the Lord,” Larson says. “Their encouragement has taught me so much about God’s love. I’m really grateful to be a part of this.”

When Larson isn’t running, she’s immersing herself in everything else MU has to offer, including thought-provoking classes and supportive friendships. “The academics are very challenging,” she says. “This community has been really good for me. Connecting deeply with other students has been a joy. And the faculty’s brotherly and sisterly love for us is so cool to see.”

‘Experiencing true life’

In the meantime, Larson is getting excited for her big race on Saturday. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity,” she says. “It’s exciting that our school gets to move up in competition, and I hope it motivates more people to come to MU and be in this Christ-centered environment.

“You experiencing true life within this community, whether it’s with your team, teachers or students. It’s helping me understand what it means to be a part of God’s kingdom.”

Seminary professor launches new book about freedom

use this headshot

Pastor Rick McKinley

Rick McKinley, MU professor and lead pastor of Imago Dei Community, has published his fifth book — "The Answer to Our Cry: Freedom to Live Fully, Love Boldly and Fear Nothing." The Multnomah Biblical Seminary alum planted Imago Dei in 2000 and travels widely to share local movements, such as Advent Conspiracy, with the broader Church.

Get a free copy

Today MU's marketing department is kicking off a book giveaway contest. Go to Twitter to share your answer to "What does freedom mean to you?" and Instagram to answer "What does freedom look like to you?" Use the hashtag #mufreedom to qualify. Three winners will be announced at noon on Friday, November 7. All winners receive a free copy of McKinley's new book.

Enjoy this excerpt from "The Answer to Our Cry":

Answer to our cryThe form that freedom takes in Scripture is relationship with God. This is the gravity that holds our lives together so that we can enjoy the life that God has given us. We call this the gospel: the Good News that God hears our cry and sent his Son to give us freedom. We might think about this saving story as a narrative that has five parts: creation, fall, redemption, restoration, and consummation. • Creation: A good God created a good world in perfection so that we could enjoy him and everything he had made. • Fall: Humankind fell away from this God, and the sin that happened in the garden led to spiritual and physical death. We all are alienated from God. • Redemption: God did not leave us to our own despair. He came after us by sending his Son to live the life we should have lived, die the death we should have died, and bring about a new creation both in us and in the world. • Restoration: This good God is currently restoring all things through Jesus and bringing about his new creation so that the world changes (and we change too). Pockets of new creation are breaking forth in the old creation, and new life is the beginning to dawn. • Consummation: One day God will bring his creation and us together into a new perfection. That is what he originally created in the Garden of Eden. All pain and suffering will be done away with because this good God is making everything new. Creation, fall, redemption, restoration and consummation. And it really is good news! However, that’s not all there is. God’s nature and being are the main text of the story, and our experience of creation, fall, redemption, restoration, and consummation are the subtext. Without the main text, the subtext doesn’t make much sense (or even exist, for that matter). I believe the reason so many followers of Jesus are still crying out for freedom and still finding themselves bound up in slavery is because the don’t understand the most important part of the story — the part where we discover who this good God really is. The reason this is so important is because our freedom is dependant on it. If our freedom is dependent on form, then the form of our freedom is relationship with the good God of the Bible. We will never be free until we experience who this God is through an actual relationship with him. Freedom comes from desiring God for who he actually is, not what he has done for us. When we focus on only what God has done for us, we don’t relate to God for who he is. When that happens, we are dragged into a whole new kind of religious slavery. Our freedom is predicted on our being in an actual relational union with the God of the gospel. This means we will have to look up from the subtext of what God has done for us and fall in love with the God who is, well, everything. Being loved and in love with this God is the form that freedom requires to be experienced. We will never be free until we love God for who he really is. Taken with permission from "The Answer to Our Cry" by Rick McKinley (p. 24-26)

Interested in buying Rick McKinley's book?

Images of the Inauguration

Comments Off Written on October 20th, 2014 by
Categories: General

On Friday, October 17, Multnomah University formally ushered Dr. Craig Williford into his role as president with an inauguration at Rolling Hills Community Church. Students, alumni, staff, faculty, MU's board of trustees and delegates from local universities attended the event.

In his inaugural address, Williford shared his vision for creating a global campus, closing the gap between those who can afford higher education and those can't, and empowering students with biblical wisdom and love of service. "Society needs Christians who have been restored in their weaknesses," he said. "Thank you all for working with me to build upon the legacy of Multnomah."


Gordon Conroy performed "Amazing Grace" for the academic processional.


Dr. Roy Andrews, dean of MU's School of Biblical & Theological Studies, welcomed attendants. "Craig and Carolyn have been clear that they don't want this event to focus on them," he said. "They want the focus to be on Christ."

Dave Needham, professor emeritus, gives the invocation.

Dave Needham, professor emeritus, gave the invocation. "We ask Your favor as we turn to a fresh page in Multnomah's history," he prayed. "We trust that You have brought Dr. Williford here to lead us."

MU student Natalie Tidswell gives a musical performance.

MU student Natalie Tidswell gave a musical performance.

Student senate president Jesse Duckett welcomes Dr. Williford. "We wanted a visionary and a motivator," he said. "You bring energy to our campus."

Student senate president Jesse Duckett welcomed Dr. Williford to the MU family. "We wanted a visionary and a motivator," he said. "You bring energy to our campus."

Adrienne Fajen, alumni leadership council president, greeted the president on behalf of MU's 19,000 alumni.

Adrienne Fajen, alumni leadership council president, greeted the president on behalf of MU's 19,000 alumni.

Dr. Luis Palau gave the keynote address and reflected on his time as a Multnomah student. "It was a very challenging education," he said. "I found joy in what I learned. It was revolutionary to my life!"

Dr. Luis Palau gave the keynote address and reflected on his time as a Multnomah student. "It was a very challenging education," he said. "I found joy in what I learned. It was revolutionary to my life!"

Carolyn Williford holds the Bible as Craig Williford promises to safeguard MU's standards and lead well.

Carolyn Williford held the Bible as Craig Williford promised to safeguard MU's standards and lead well.

Dr. Williford is given the presidential medallion, a symbol of institutional authority.

Dr. Williford was given the presidential medallion, a symbol of institutional authority.

MU's board of trustees surround Dr. Williford as board member Steve Mitchell prayed. "Our confidence is not in this man, but in his love for You," he said.

MU's board of trustees surrounded Dr. Williford and prayed, "Our confidence is not in this man, but in his love for You."

Dr. Williford gave his inaugural address. "People have been asking me what I'll do now that I'm in charge," he said. "I tell them, 'I'm not in charge. God is.' He is the shepherd; I am the undershepherd."

Dr. Williford gave his inaugural address. "People have been asking me what I'll do now that I'm in charge," he said. "I tell them, 'I'm not in charge. God is.' He is the shepherd; I am the undershepherd."

A reception, also hosted at Rolling Hills, followed the ceremony.

A reception, also hosted at Rolling Hills, followed the ceremony.

The couple greeted many attendants together.

The couple greeted many attendants together.

They happily spoke to everyone who stopped to congratulate them.

They happily spoke to everyone who stopped to congratulate them.

The board of trustees posed alongside the president and first lady.

The board of trustees posed alongside the president and first lady.


Congratulations, Craig and Carolyn! We are so happy — and so blessed — you're at Multnomah University!

Multnomah University Updates — Fall 2014

Comments Off Written on September 30th, 2014 by
Categories: Newsletter

Couple donates 18th-century Torah to MU

Ken and Barbara Larson, from Bonita Springs, Fla., are giving a rare and valuable Torah to Multnomah Biblical Seminary. The Torah is a parchment scroll on which the first five books of the Old Testament were written. This particular scroll is more than two centuries old and was likely used in synagogues. It’s durable enough to be used for decades to come.

Vice President of Advancement Steve Cummings said the gift will further ignite students’ passion for God’s Word. “This is an incredible and generous gift,” he says. “It will bring an added dimension to their educational experience that will last for many years.” The scroll’s formal dedication will be hosted on campus and is tentatively set for early February.

New community counseling center opening in October

MU will be opening a community counseling clinic on October 15. The clinic will offer discounted counseling sessions for people in the surrounding neighborhood while simultaneously providing internships for MU students earning their Master of Arts in Counseling degrees.

 “We are so excited to engage in this new venture,” says clinic coordinator Chris Cleaver. “We get to be a part of win-win-win situation. Our students learn through experience, our university gets an additional revenue stream and our neighbors are afforded the hope and love of Jesus!”

The clinic will have a grand opening on January 14, 2015.

Seminary students return from Oxford internship

This summer, Haley Cloyd and Daniel Somboonsiri attended the Logos Conference, a two-week internship in Oxford where world-renowned academic experts taught them history, theology and textual studies. Hebrew professor Dr. Karl Kutz participated in the second week of the conference, which was sponsored by the Green Scholars Initiative. 

Cloyd and Somboonsiri stayed in a Victorian manor within walking distance to Oxford. Their days were filled with lectures, workshops, guided tours, homework — and lots of tea. “I loved the opportunity to develop my own academic network; now I have friends at Cambridge, Gordon-Conwell,” says Cloyd. “The most important thing I learned is that my interests don’t limit my career path. This experience has been instrumental in shaping how I move forward.”

Somboonsiri agrees. “We got a lot of advise on pursuing the Christian life within the world of academia,” he says. “And Dr. Kutz was an invaluable help — he talked over the lectures with us. I’m excited about more GSI projects coming to MU, and I’m excited for more students to have similar opportunities to what Haley and I experienced.” 

New students attend orientation with different dreams, common purpose 

Business owner. Teacher. Counselor. Our new students have different goals, but they all want to make the world a better place, wherever God leads them. Their first step? Right here. Incoming students from across the U.S. — some from as far as Germany — congregated on campus August 21 to kick off MU’s four-day orientation. 

Louie Idlett, a business major from Longview, Wash., hopes to start his own company one day. He’s confident that MU’s biblical foundation will help him succeed. “As a Christian, you’re called to keep a higher standard of business,” he says. “It’s not all about the profit margin. It’s about loving God, loving your community and loving what you do — because you’re doing it for Him.”

New athletic teams begin competing 

MU’s Athletic Department has officially added six new sports teams for the fall 2014 season: women’s basketball, men’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, and men’s and women’s golf. MU’s cross country, golf, soccer and volleyball teams are currently in season and competing in the National Christian College Athletic Association Division II. Our men’s and women’s basketball teams are currently practicing.

“This is one of the most exciting times in the history of Multnomah’s athletic department, says Athletics Director Lois Voss. We have more athletes participating than ever before and some really great things have already happened: We have a runner who qualified for the National Cross Country tournament, a golfer who missed the national tournament by one shot, and we scored our first goal in soccer. New things are being written in our history books.


‘A Time of Celebration and Thanksgiving’: Dr. Craig Williford’s Inauguration Set For October 17

Comments Off Written on September 26th, 2014 by
Categories: Newsletter

Multnomah University will officially inaugurate Dr. Craig Williford as the institution’s fifth president during a ceremony the afternoon of Friday, October 17, at Rolling Hills Church. The University will close at noon and classes from 1:30 p.m. on will be cancelled so all faculty, staff and students can attend.

“This event will be a time of celebration and thanksgiving as the MU family, Carolyn and I express our mutual joy in God’s blessings,” said Williford. “The inauguration will signal to the Northwest learning community that MU is beginning a new season as it continues to build upon 78 years of faithful ministry.”

The University’s first inauguration since 1997, the event will kick off at 2 p.m. with a traditional academic procession. Board members, administration, faculty, and delegates will proceed in full academic regalia. A formal ceremony will follow, which will include an inaugural address from alumnus Dr. Luis Palau.

The University Board of Trustees will then present to and authorize Williford to wear the presidential medallion of the University. “The medallion will serve as a visual sign of my role as senior leader,” said Williford. “Receiving it for the first time while I am kneeling will symbolize my dependence upon God and that I am here to serve the MU family.”

Williford will give a presidential address before the benediction and recessional. A reception, also hosted at Rolling Hills, will begin at 3:30 p.m. All are invited to attend.

Williford noted that the inauguration recalls the sacred trust that exists between God, the Willifords, and all past, present and future Multnomah family members. “I am personally reminded of my responsibility to lead wisely and faithfully,” he said. “Carolyn and I are humbled as I formally assume the role of president. I’m excited about publicly declaring my loyalty to Christ and expressing how honored I feel to serve along such a dedicated and talented group of people.”

Paul J. Pastor wins 2014 Distinguished Young Alumni Award

1 Comment » Written on September 26th, 2014 by
Categories: Newsletter

Paul J. Pastor had no idea what he wanted to do when he began his freshman year, but his passion for God’s Word had instinctively led him to Multnomah.

paul_primary“I craved fuel for my imagination,” said Pastor, MU’s 2014 Distinguished Young Alumni Award Winner. “The Scriptures fuel, inform and ground you like nothing else can.”

Now the 2008 graduate is informing and challenging countless Christians through his gift of writing. Pastor is associate editor of Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal, an iconic magazine for pastors and ministry leaders. He’s also the editor of PARSE, Leadership Journal’s blog, which provides insight and analysis on ministry and culture.

Although PARSE made its debut in January 2014, it’s already attracted strong attention, including being listed as one of the top 10 ministry blogs in the world by the industry standard list.

“That was a pleasant surprise!” Pastor said. “But my personal metric of success? Simply to highlight stories, conversations and resources that I'm personally intrigued by. If we publish content that’s interesting, good for the soul and a little out of the norm, I think we've succeeded as a publication.”

‘Someone who wants to make the world a different place’

Pastor’s job requires a heavy dose of artistry, and he credits MU with cultivating his vision.

“Multnomah is great for a creative person; someone who wants to make the world a different place,” he said.

And Pastor is making the world a different place, one article at a time. Boiled down, his job is about stories — finding ones that matter, crafting them well and convincing people to read them.

“I work to tell stories that challenge the way we currently think about things and pull our hearts toward the margins, where I’m convinced Jesus spends most of his time,” he said.

Pastor lives in his hometown of Portland, Ore., but the search for good stories has taken him to Israel, Palestine and all across the U.S. He’s sat in offices, churches, pubs, coffee shops, art galleries, auditoriums, living rooms and hotel ballrooms.

“I’ve talked with anonymous sources, big-name pastors, rural ministers, authors, culture-makers, church planters, professors, musicians, artists, missionaries, parents, global evangelists, abolitionists, entrepreneurs, the failed, the successful, the wise, the foolish and various combinations of all of the above,” he said. “I love it.”

A pen instead of a pulpit

Pastor will officially accept the Distinguished Young Alumni of the Year Award during a special chapel, hosted in the JCA, on October 21 at 10 a.m. Michelle Peel-Underwood, Multnomah’s director of alumni relations, said Pastor’s passion for the Lord and love for the Word are key reasons he was selected.

“Paul’s journey has been awe-inspiring,” Underwood said. “He lives intentionally, depends upon the Lord and carries insight into how the truths of Scripture inform our daily living.”

Pastor said he’s deeply honored to receive the recognition.

“This award is an affirmation of the path I've chosen and an encouragement that my work is making a difference,” he said. “As a student, I had a professor and mentor, Domani Pothen, say she thought my calling was to ‘steward God's Word for God's people.’ This confirms that I'm discovering what that means for my life — I’m just stewarding the Word with a pen instead of a pulpit.”

Growing givers’ hearts: An interview with VP of Advancement Steve Cummings

Comments Off Written on September 26th, 2014 by
Categories: Newsletter

True joy in giving

Steve Cummings stepped into his role as vice president of Advancement in August and hit the ground running. Cummings, who holds an M.Div. in Christian Education, brings 18 years of marketing and production experience to the position. For the past six years, he served as a senior director of development for Prison Fellowship Ministries, where he built relationships with donors in Hawaii, Alaska and California.

Cummings Family Photo

Steve Cummings with his family.

“I believe my calling is to serve God’s kingdom by growing givers’ hearts,” Cummings says. “I challenge them to become cheerful and sacrificial stewards who experience true joy in their giving while growing deeper in their relationship with Jesus Christ.”

MU President Dr. Craig Williford is delighted to have Cummings and his wife, Julia, join the Multnomah family. “Their deep commitment to Christ and desire to serve will contribute to our university mission,” he says. “Steve’s expertise in advancement has prepared him to lead us as we focus on equipping people to be faithful stewards.”

Steve and Julia have been married for 26 years and are proud parents of four adult children and one daughter-in-law. Julia will be continuing her counseling internship at MU’s Community Counseling Center, set to open October 15.

I asked Cummings to share a few highlights about his role at MU.

What made you want to work here?

Multnomah has always been, in my mind, one of the premiere biblical universities in the country and certainly the top one in the Pacific Northwest. I have known MU alumni and crossed paths with MU missionaries, pastors and others who either gave to Multnomah or served here, and the school was always so well spoken of.

When I received the call from Craig Williford in May asking if I was interested in joining his executive leadership team, there was never a hesitation on my part. I knew what Multnomah stood for and its commitment not only to the Scriptures but to spiritual formation and shaping students with a close-knit, stellar faculty. The decision was an easy one.

What are some things you like most about your job?

No hesitation here – the faculty and staff. My first 30 days here made me feel like I'd been here 30 months. The love for Jesus this Body of Christ has and for each other is simply amazing! There are no agendas here, no factions, no selfish attitudes. From the Board of Trustees to the President’s Council to the faculty, staff and student body – it’s a slice of heaven on earth here at these 25 acres in Portland.

The Advancement team I inherited is beyond amazing. They have jumped on board with open hearts and not looked back as we seek to build an advancement ministry at Multnomah the way God intends that will please Him and elevate givers' hearts heavenward.

I have a cool office, too, where I can look out and see students walking by, reminding me of why I am here.

How does your role fit into Multnomah’s mission?

Advancement leads this university in our mission and, as the leader, I take this responsibility very seriously. I depend on prayer and daily ask the Lord for His wisdom, favor and grace to accomplish what He sets out for us to do each day. I’m convinced that if we are faithful in the little things and to our calling, He will grant the success, the outcomes and the growth.

I am zealous about success and growth. I am zealous about prayer, faithfulness and serving together as a Body of Christ that pleases Him. When we do that, it brings a smile to the Father’s face, and I know then we have accomplished what He has set before us. Mountains like Mt. Everest are conquered one step at a time.

What are your hopes for MU?

That the Lord will gather His people for such a time as this to renew our hearts and do great and mighty things for the kingdom. The world is changing constantly and not for the better. There is a sense of urgency to what God has called us to do as we equip and train students to fulfill the mission of Multnomah as the Lord has directed us.

Our Advancement team is here to be used by the Lord to build a culture of generosity across the Multnomah campus and with God’s people who faithfully, sacrificially and generously give to Multnomah. Our role is to advance and facilitate every believer’s faith in and worship of God through a Christ-centered understanding of stewardship that is solidly grounded on Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Ex. 35:21).

If I can help start a revolution in generosity that causes the Multnomah family to grow in their love relationship to God through their giving to the kingdom – I will die a happy man. It’s not about the gift. It’s about the giver.

What are your hopes for our alumni and donors?

First – let’s do away with the term “donors.” People who give are God’s people who invest God’s money to do God’s work. We like to refer to believers who do that as “givers” or “partners.”

My only hope is this: That we can come together in a spirit of unity – for such a time as this – and mobilize our time, talent and resources to advance the cause of Christ until He returns.

We need your help in doing that. You are our best ambassadors. To reach our full potential as a university that God has for us, we need the Lord’s wisdom, favor and grace to share our message with other believers. We can invite them to participate with us in this great mission.