Events

Spring Thaw Unites, Inspires 800 Students

Spring Thaw is over. The event that took months of dreaming, planning and building successfully transformed one weekend into 44 hours full of unforgettable games, teaching, laughter, worship, Disney characters and donuts (check out the Spring Thaw photo album!).

Out of the 825 high school students and youth leaders at the event, seven took time to share their Spring Thaw experiences.

springthaw1'It was an encouragement'

Emma Barnett and Amanda Foreman, freshman from Redemptive Church in Duval, Washington, were Spring Thaw first-timers. "I think the event is a great idea," said Barnett "Everyone did a great job organizing everything. And I loved the shows and activities."

Barnett and Foreman agreed that their favorite activity was Library Laser Tag, where they tip-toed, slunk and ran through the darkened MU library with laser guns rented from a local party store. But a theology seminar led by seminary professor Dr. Val Clemen left a deeper impression. Both girls were struck by Clemen's life story, which heavily emphasized the importance of forgiveness. "It was an encouragement," said Foreman.

Barnett agreed. "Her story made me want to love people more,"  she said. "Especially my enemies — because they have it worse."

springthaw2'A lot of growth and bonding'

Millie Dugger, another Spring Thaw first-timer, has been a youth leader at Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon, for six years. As a married woman who works full-time, Dugger has limited time with her youth group each week. Spring Thaw was a refreshing break from normal routine.

"What meant the most to me was having 44 hours of uninterrupted time with my girls," she said. "MU provided and planned everything, so we didn't have to cook and clean up! I saw God reveal opportunities to pray with the girls and be more present since I didn't have an agenda. A lot of growth and bonding happened because of it."

'God's love is always there'

One of the girls in Dugger's youth group, Ashley Smith, also valued the freedom the retreat gave her to build relationships with others. Smith said she expected to meet new people and play lots of fun games during the weekend. But what she didn't expect were the teachings about love and peace that speaker Chap Clark shared with students. "Chap was very motivational and inspirational," she said. "He talked about love in a way we could understand."

The message of hope was just what the senior needed."Society is so caught up with fitting in, but I learned that God's love is always there and that you can find peace," she said. "I've been going through some stressful times, and it was good to be reminded of that."

Smith encourages all high school students to attend the event if they can. "When you have the chance to go, just go for it, and don't be nervous" she said. "I didn't see anyone being left out. Spring Thaw will give you the opportunity to be stronger and make more friends in the Christian community."

springthaw4'It was intense'

Tim Blank, a senior from Abundant Life Church in Sandy, Oregon, also appreciated the sense of community he felt during the weekend. "It was intense," he said. "I learned about how important it is to respect people and to actually act like we're brothers and sisters in Christ."

And although Blank loved the activities and teaching, he was quick to credit the volunteers that made the retreat happen. "I think it's great that MU can open up and do this for us," he said. "It says a lot about the school. I'm glad I got to be here."

Jason Chess, Blank's youth leader, felt the same way. "This is such a great event that our high schoolers can get excited for," he said. "And it's a safe place for them."

springthaw3'God has a place for me'

Eric Irvin, from Mid Valley Community Church in Woodburn, Oregon, thought the weekend was transformative.

"I definitely have different feelings toward other people now," he said. "I'm more accepting because I know God made them in his image."

Irvin especially liked the worship sessions. "Singing songs is one of my favorite ways to connect with God," he said. "This is a place to get away from the worldly things and praise him. MU is not only open and welcoming — God's presence is here too."

As the sophomore prepared for the drive home with his youth group, he felt encouraged. "I've had a lot of struggles lately," he said. "But I learned that God has a place for me in this world."

Spring Thaw is an annual event put on my MU's youth ministry program.

Students Skip Class to Serve Portland

A blue sky and sunshine greeted more than 130 Multnomah University students as they left campus to participate in Day of Outreach on April 14.

Once every spring and fall, students volunteer at several locations in the Portland community, including nonprofits, nursing homes, schools and community centers. MU cancels classes for the day so students can devote their whole morning to service.

‘Get a different perspective’

Chris Cleaverdayofoutreach_492, a full-time counselor at Multnomah, led a group of students to Door to Grace, a Portland nonprofit providing restorative care and safe shelter for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation. The day home needed some TLC, so students took Windex to mirrors, vacuums to rugs and push brooms to sidewalks. Freshman Johanna Quezada carefully watered the small boxwood trees that stood in a line near the front door.

“This is definitely a cool opportunity,” said the TESOL major. “I love hearing about the different ministries here in Portland. My world can get so small because I live and work on campus, so it’s good to get outside and get a different perspective. We’re at MU for more than just time in the classroom.”

Olivia Botsford agreed. As she wiped the kitchen counters with a washcloth, the psychology major talked about how she appreciates a day devoted to helping neighbors. “We’re not just focused on getting our degrees,” she said. “We want to serve and be in the community, loving people in the real world.”

‘Be a light’

dayofoutreach_501Dean of Students Jon Mathis and Psychology Department Chair Dr. Elliott Lawless joined another group of students volunteering at Drive Away Hunger, the home of Portland Rescue Mission’s vehicle donation and sales program. The men took on yard work, sweeping, raking and cleaning and organizing the auto shop.

Danny Kugelburg, Community Partnership Lead at Drive Away Hunger, leaned against a blue Chevy as he explained the impact of volunteering. “You might not have direct contact with the people we’re helping, but what you’re doing is changing lives,” he said. “We’re a nonprofit that survives solely on the gift of volunteers.”

Kugelburg is an M.Div. student at Multnomah Seminary, so he’s familiar with the school’s  mission. But watching it come to life in the auto shop is inspiring. “Multnomah has a desire for its students not to be insulated, but to be a light in the community — in voice and in deed,” he said.

‘Actively love’

dayofoutreach_534At the Montavilla Community Center, Multnomah students sat at tables piled high with paper plates and colorful ribbons to craft decorations for the center’s upcoming Easter celebration. Sophomore Edwin Granados carefully cut the plates into half moon shapes as he spoke with fellow volunteers. The music major is on the student-led Day of Outreach planning committee and was in charge of promoting the event this season.

Granados said he loves the opportunity to branch out of the University and into the surrounding community. “It’s one of my favorite things to do,” he said. “Our planning committee had a vision — that students could actively love in a way that will last beyond today. I hope this will be a kickoff for people to begin serving more frequently.”

Besides MU's two annual Day of Outreach events, MU students provide more than 100,000 hours of service to the community each year through the University's Student Ministries program

How have you been impacted by volunteer work? Share your thoughts below.

‘Reaching Hearts for Christ’: Volunteers Share the Mission Behind Spring Thaw

image'There's a lot of family out there'

It's Juan Gonzalez's first year volunteering at Spring Thaw, but the Youth Ministry major knows a thing or two about the event — he attended the retreat with his youth group all four years of high school. "I got saved in eighth grade and was surrounded by a great community and a great youth group," he says. "It made me want to provide the same thing for other kids."

Now a freshman at MU, Gonzalez is excited to contribute to an event that changed his life year after year. "When I was in high school, I'd see only about two other Christians at my school," he says. "But when I came to Spring Thaw, I would get so fired up when I saw how many Christians were here. This event shows people a broader community of believers; it lets them know that there's a lot of family out there."

Gonzalez will wear many hats during the weekend event, and he's eager for each one. "I'll be volunteering in the puppy room and helping out with with junta darts and operation underground," he says. "I want to branch myself out in this community, and I'm excited to get to know more youth groups."

IMG_1316'It's quality fun'

Katie MacDonald is busy turning Roger's Café into a Disney-themed karaoke hot spot: New lights glisten from the ceiling, clouds billow from a fog machine and a disco ball winks over the stage. It's the psychology major's second year volunteering at the event, and she's glowing with enthusiasm. "Disney karaoke is going to be super magical," she says. "My friend and I are going to MC and dress up like princesses; it's going to be awesome."

The junior hopes the karaoke lounge — and all of Spring Thaw for that matter — will be a place where students can relax and have a good time." So often high schoolers get so involved in what other people think about them," she says. "I want them to remember that they're still kids and can have fun. They can be real with each other and let God work. We want them to find their identity in Christ and not anywhere else."

DSCN0930'I want to be a role model'

Rodney DeJager, a Youth Ministry major, agrees. "MU is a safe environment for these students," he says. "We've been praying that the Holy Spirit will be working in them."

The senior has a big heart for high schoolers.  "It's a really crucial time in peoples' lives," he says "I appreciated the support and encouragement I got from my youth pastor. Now I want to be a role model."

This will be DeJager's third year  as a volunteer and his second year as an intern. He and a group of five other interns have taken months to dream, brainstorm, budget and plan for the 44-hour retreat. "It's a valuable experience," he says. "We've talked about all  this stuff in freshman and sophomore classes, and now I'm putting it into practice."

DeJager will continue to hone his leadership skills this weekend as he joins the more than 200 Multnomah volunteers that make the retreat successful. "Spring Thaw is great for marketing and publicity, but it really shows our school's heart for people," he says. "MU genuinely cares for these high school students. It wants to give them this gift — and reach hearts for Christ."

Registration is full, but visit the Spring Thaw website for more information about this retreat.

‘A Labor of Love’: Dr. Hildebrand Reflects on the Ultimate Youth Event

hildebrand_mainWhat do Disney karaoke, theology seminars, laser tag, MU’s campus and 825 high schools students have in common? You guessed it: Spring Thaw. The weekend retreat, open to youth groups and individuals, will kick off this Friday at 7 p.m. Every year brings a unique theme, and 2014 is all about medieval knights, fairy tales and Disney.

Youth Ministries Department Chair Dr. Rob Hildebrand has been running the event since its debut five years ago. "MU was awarded a large grant so it could offer theological training to high school students," he says. For years, the University hosted a leadership program called CREDO, which benefited hundreds of high school students. But when CREDO began to decline, MU needed to reimagine the event. That's when Spring Thaw was born.

Although many other Christian universities offer retreats for high school students, Spring Thaw stands out. "Our event is more community-based because everyone who’s volunteering already lives here," says Hildebrand. More than 200 volunteers — composed of MU students and staff — plan, build and facilitate the retreat each year. A small group of students majoring in Youth Ministry take on larger leadership roles and serve as interns. "Our students do well at getting hired after they intern at this event," Hildebrand says. "A lot of people do ministry lazily, but I want our volunteers to develop a good work ethic. I want them to see that when you do hard work, you really can make things better."

Making Spring Thaw better is something Hildebrand is passionate about. "I love being innovative, and I try to make improvements every year," he says. He was ecstatic to secure Dr. Chap Clark as the main speaker. “In my book, he’s one of the top five youth ministry experts in the world," Hildebrand says. Besides the main sessions with Clark, the high school students will attend theology seminars led by MU faculty."This isn't not a shallow, frivolous retreat," says Hildebrand. "I hope the seminars will help students see Christianity as it is and come to grips with who Christ is."

Hildebrand believes that students learn best when they're in a balanced environment, and he injects plenty of activities into the weekend, including comedy skits, a puppy room, bubble soccer, magic shows and a color run. "This really is a labor of love," he says. "Volunteers are going to be tired, it inconveniences staff and students in the dorms are giving up their space. But we’re doing this because we love these high school students. At MU, we're not all about MU — we're about serving and looking beyond ourselves. We care about the Church and the kingdom."

Registration is full, but visit the Spring Thaw website for more information about this retreat.

Visit MU in April

quincy_thumbWhy you should go

Our free visit events are the perfect, no-obligation opportunity you need to learn about our programs.

What to expect

Explore campus. Talk with our program directors, staff and students. Ask them as many questions as you'd like. Join a professor for lunch in our cafeteria. Sit in on a class. Meander through our award-winning grounds. Check out our campus housing options. See if MU is right for you.

community-interactionOur event schedule

Registration is open now. Sign up for as many events as you'd like, and tell your friends about it too!

College

April 7: Mondays @ Multnomah

MUsign_mainDegree Completion Program

April 3: DCP Info Session

Grad School

April 8: MAT Info Session

April 9: MATESOL Info Session

April 9: MAGDJ Info Session

April 10: MAC Info Session

Seminary

April 8: Seminary Info Night

You’re Invited to Respond and Prevent

violence_mainApril is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, when activists across the country raise awareness about violence and educate communities on how to prevent it. MU is getting involved by hosting a series of special events. Students, staff and faculty are invited to participate.

APRIL 14 DAY OF OUTREACH

A group of students and faculty will volunteer at Door To Grace, a Portland nonprofit providing restorative care and safe shelter for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation. Interested in joining? Email Clarissa Smith at csmith2@my.multnomah.edu.

APRIL 14-22 CLOTHESLINE PROJECT: BEARING WITNESS TO VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

This project gives those in the MU community who have been affected — directly or indirectly — by violence the opportunity to express their emotions by decorating a shirt. The shirts will hang in the JCA hallway to serve as a testimony to the problem of violence against women. This will be one of more than 500 Clothesline Projects being shown around the world.

Want to add a shirt to the clothesline? You can either decorate a shirt on your own or host a shirt-decorating party for a group. Shirts must be submitted to Martha Byrne in the counseling center by April 8.

APRIL 18 BRUNCH CHAT: THE GLOBAL IMPACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Staff and faculty will share how God is using the Church to respond to violence against women around the world.

APRIL 22 CHAPEL: MEN CAN PREVENT VIOLENCE

Chris Cleaver, MU counselor, will speak about the role men should play in preventing abuse. “The problem of violence against women is a men’s issue,” he says. “Although the majority of men do not rape, batter and abuse women, many of us are passive bystanders and do not actively oppose the mistreatment of women. I want to call men to refuse permitting anything that supports a culture of violence against women. Because without their active participation, the violence will persist.”

For more information about any of these events, email Chris Cleaver at ccleaver@multnomah.edu.

Basketball Team Seeks Support for Mission Trip to Taiwan

The MU Lions and their coach, Curt Bickley, will be taking a mission trip to Taiwan May 10-19. Bickley has been coaching men's basketball at Multnomah since 2003. This will be the sixth mission trip he has taken with the Lions and the fourth mission trip to Taiwan.

The team will work with Taiwan Sunshine, a nonprofit that supports special needs children by providing outreach and special events, such as the Hero Games, which is similar to the Special Olympics. During their trip, the Lions will volunteer at the Hero Games and run various basketball clinics around the country. The team members will not only have the chance to teach children the rules of the game; they will also get to share the Gospel with them.

basketballteam_mainEleven team members will be traveling to Taiwan, and each of them needs to raise $2,000 to cover expenses for traveling, food and lodging. The team has shared the following prayer requests with the Multnomah community:

  • Successful fundraisers
  • Spiritual, mental and physical preparation for the trip
  • Safety while traveling
  • Eternal results from their ministry

The Lions are still hard at work raising money for the trip. The cutoff date for donations is April 20.

Want to contribute to this mission trip? Include the following information with a check made payable to "MU Athletic Tour":

  • Your name and address
  • The amount you're donating
  • The name of the player whom you're supporting (This is optional. You may choose to help a specific player or donate to the general fund.)

Send this information, along with your gift, to the following address:

Multnomah University, Athletic Department
8435 NE Glisan St.
Portland, OR 97220

Remember: Only checks made out to "MU Athletic Tour" can be accepted. Donations over $20 are tax deductible. Your financial gift cannot be refunded. Contributions are solicited with the understanding that MU has complete control and discretion over the use of all donated funds.

The MU Lions are grateful for your support!

For more information about Multnomah Athletics, check out our athletics page.

Interested in Teaching English as a Second Language?

I wanted to let you know about a great opportunity for people who are teaching English as a second language and anyone else who wants to explore this vocation or ministry.

John Runcie, Director, MA in TESOL program

John Runcie, Director, MA in TESOL program

The Christian English Language Teachers (CELT) Conference will take place at Multnomah University on Wednesday, March 26. The event, which includes educational workshops and a keynote speaker, will prepare you to:

  • Integrate faith and teaching in ethical ways.
  • Explore the intersections of spirituality and language teaching.
  • Prompt each other toward excellence in service and teaching.

The cost (which includes lunch) is $35 if you register by March 17 or $45 at the door.

Have questions? Contact John Runcie at 503-349-1671 or at jruncie@multnomah.edu.

You’re Invited to Day of Prayer

karen-fancher

Multnomah University will hold a Day of Prayer on Friday, March 7. This is a day when daytime classes are cancelled, and students are given the opportunity to step back from studies to have a time dedicated to worshiping and seeking God together. The theme of this Day of Prayer is “Reflections of Grace”. This will be a time to reflect upon the amazing grace of God which has been extended to us, and how our hearts are responding to God in receiving His grace and in extending it to others.

Schedule

Students will meet in the JCA student center from 9 to 10:30 for a session of worship in song, reflection and prayer. MU's Chair of Pastoral Ministries Department Dr. Valerie Clemen will guide the time of reflection. Participants will have a short break and then gather in small groups to pray for one another from 10:45 to 12 noon. The small group prayer times will be led by students. The students will meet in affinity groups with their majors and minor, and the seminary and graduate students will meet together for prayer as well. In the afternoon students are invited to participate with at least two other people in prayer walks around the campus. The goal is to cover one another and the ministry of MU in prayer.

Student Feedback

Dr. Val Clemen

MU's Spiritual Life Committee conducted a recent survey which asked students what they would most appreciate on Day of Prayer. At times the spring Day of Prayer has been held at a retreat center off campus. However, 72% of the students in this survey said that they would prefer to stay on campus. Thus, the Day of Prayer will be held at MU, with an invitation to prayer walk over our campus as well. Students also indicated that they wanted intentional time focused on personal reflection and praying for one another. It was encouraging for the Spiritual Life Committee to hear how highly students valued prayer and wanted to grow in the area of personal prayer. It is our prayer that this time together will strengthen us in our relationships with the Lord, strengthen us as a community honor the Lord, and align our hearts even more with the heart of God.

About the author

Dr. Karen Fancher has worked at Multnomah University since 1998. She is the assistant professor of Pastoral Ministry and the dean of seminary students.

 

 

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