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CEO of Saddleback Leather Co. Dave Munson chosen for 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award

Dave-Cropped-for-sarahPORTLAND, Ore. – Multnomah University is proud to announce the recipient of the 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award: Dave Munson, CEO of Saddleback Leather Company.

Munson began attending MU in 1992 after a mission trip inspired him to study the Bible like never before. “I wanted to do ministry the rest of my life, so I knew I needed more education,” he says. “I came to Multnomah because I was trying to be obedient.”

After graduating with a degree in Bible and Theology, Munson moved to Mexico and began teaching English. He looked everywhere for the perfect carry-on to hold his school books, but nothing fit his criteria. That’s when he collaborated with a local craftsman to design his first leather bag.

When the bag started receiving multiple compliments a day, a lightbulb turned on in Munson’s head. He scrimped and saved for more bags and then sold them — first out of his Land Cruiser, then via eBay, and now through Saddleback Leather Company, his thriving business that crafts high-quality luggage, wallets, backpacks and more.

“Even if I knew the path of my life back then…even if I knew that one day I’d own Saddleback, I would go to Multnomah again,” says Munson. “It was instilled in all of us there to be honest. There was a constant pounding on the drum for integrity.”

Munson hasn’t only applied those principles to his personal life — he’s built his entire business around them. Saddleback is committed to investing in its employees and cultivating a sustainable work environment for them. This fall, the company’s factory in Mexico will start providing free day care and school for employees’ children. Factory workers can also enroll in complimentary parenting classes, marriage seminars, counseling sessions and English courses.

Saddleback also shows its English teachers how they can respectfully share the gospel with employees. So far this year, 104 people have accepted Jesus in Munson’s factory. “This is not a business created for just financial motives,” he says. “If God had a factory, we think this is how he would run it.”

Michelle Underwood, Multnomah’s director of alumni relations, says Munson’s heart for serving his employees is one of the reasons he was selected as this year’s award recipient. “Dave is a graduate who has not only distinguished himself as a business owner, but has also demonstrated that his business is a ministry to his employees and customers,” she says. “His passion, drive, humility and generosity make him a wonderful selection for the 2015 Alumnus of the Year.”

Munson will be honored with the Alumnus of the Year award at 10 a.m. on September 7, 2015. All staff, faculty and students are welcome to attend the celebration. During the event, Munson will share more about his personal journey and business model.

Service with a smile: Students build friendships off campus

A cloudy sky and thin veil of rain greeted more than 130 Multnomah University students as they left campus to participate in Day of Outreach on September 23.

Once every spring and fall, students volunteer at several locations in the Portland community in need of their time and energy. A volunteer site can be anywhere: a nonprofit organization, a school, a community center. Even a neighbor's home. MU cancels classes for the day so students can devote their whole morning to service.

OutreachFall2014_1"Now we get to give"

The living room at ElderPlace Laurelhurst, a care facility for seniors on Glisan Street, is a bright space filled with round tables where students talk and laugh with elderly men and women over cups of juice and coffee. Colorful flags hang from the ceiling and a giant white teddy bear looks down from an old piano.

Senior Olivia Morud is chatting with Phyllis, a curly-haired woman with blotchy hands and tiny glasses. The two have just finished playing a card game. Morud, an English major from Scappoose, Ore., says she loves being able to listen. "They have so much to say, so many stories," she says. "As students, we are given so much in the classroom. Now we get to give."

Volunteering is important, she says, because Jesus was a servant. "He would be doing this if he was here today," she says."It's close to his heart."

OutreachFall2014_2"A real picture of the Gospel"

Volunteers at Harrison Park School on 87th Avenue, their shoes caked with soil, are constructing a community garden. Some students build raised garden beds while others clear away debris and pull weeds.

Freshman Kimberly Marshburn and junior Maggi Schlosser are filling a garden bed with dirt. Marshburn, a Bible and theology major from Bakersfield, Calif., has been attending MU for only a month, but she's excited to serve the community so soon.

"I was talking to some students the other day who were concerned that we'd become secluded at MU," she says. "But this day shows me that we're living what we say we are. School is the practice zone and then we get to go out and live life together. It's a real picture of the gospel."

"A desire to serve"

OutreachFall2014_4Just a few blocks from campus, senior Cory Howatt is starting a lawnmower in front of a small pink house. Dotty, an wispy woman with hunched shoulders and worn moccasins, looks over her property.

"I've lived in this house for 66 years," she says. "My husband died 30 years ago, and this yard is too much for me to keep up." She smiles. "You guys have been coming to see me for a long time now."

Several volunteer sites, including those featured in this story, are permanent fixtures on the sign-up sheet. That way, students can nurture
friendships over time.

OutreachFall2014_3Howatt, a pastoral ministry major from Koloa, Hawaii, says the day shows people who Christ is through students' service. "Who we get to work with is the best part," he says. "I get to meet people like Dotty."

"We serve out of a desire to serve," he adds. "We may not benefit from any compensation, but we benefit from building relationships."

Check Out Our New D.Min. Track: Global Evangelism

We sat down with Dr. Derek Chinn, director of MU's Doctor of Ministry program, to find out more about the degree's latest track, global evangelism.

Space is still available, and classes start June 2. If you have questions about this track or want to register, contact Dr. Chinn by emailing dchinn@multnomah.edu or calling 503-251-6732.

What's the purpose of the global evangelism track?

Dr. Luis Palau

Dr. Luis Palau

This track is in line with Multnomah’s goal of equipping its students for global mission. The education our students receive is biblically-grounded and academically rigorous, and it deliberately integrates what's learned in the classroom with ministry that takes place in the real world.

How will the track prepare students for missional work?

The majority of the students are already evangelists. They are currently doing the very thing God has gifted them to do, and they will continue to evangelize to those who don’t know Jesus and train local congregations to share the Gospel.

Getting a D.Min. degree will give them the opportunity to study more in-depth the theological underpinnings of evangelism, learn about different strategies and methodologies for evangelism, develop a better understanding and appreciation for the work that builds and sustains evangelistic ministry, and learn from fellow evangelists serving in different contexts.

How is this track distinct from programs offered by other seminaries?

evangelism_tim

Dr. Tim Robnett

Students participate and study with instructors who are actively engaged in evangelism around the world. The faculty mentor, Dr. Tim Robnett, is president of Tim Robnett Ministries, and he actively trains and mentors evangelists, locally and internationally. International evangelist Dr. Luis Palau is the senior lecturer for this track and will participate in the instruction. Guest lecturers are respected educators and practitioners in evangelism.

How is the track enriching in terms of professional, spiritual and personal development?

Students will use their professional ministry skills in the church and for the community to equip believers in the ministry of evangelism. They are expected to nurture their personal relationship with God and mature in personal character. Participants in this track will have ample opportunity to reflect on and develop a process of adaptation and application of biblical principles in the area of evangelism.

What makes this program stand out?

The experience that Dr. Robnett and Dr. Palau bring to the classroom is outstanding, and I can't think of any program that brings these types of skills and experience to bear. Dr. Robnett’s deep understanding of how evangelists are gifted and wired significantly shapes how instruction will occur, what coursework is assigned, and what topics will be covered.

Want to find out more about Multnomah Biblical Seminary? Check out our seminary page