Reflecting on Life’s Joys and Sorrows: Person to Person, Winter 2015

Comments Off Written on January 8th, 2015 by
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michelle_mainimage_portraitIn taking time to reflect on 2014, I was reminded of the sovereignty, goodness and faithfulness God shows when walking with his children. I found myself recalling moments of great delight and deep grief — a tapestry of joy and sorrow that had been woven so beautifully.

As it is with the ebbs and flows of life’s journey, there are often seasons of intense grief amid great joy. And while it’s completely natural to want to fast forward through life’s pain, we can miss what God has for us in these seasons if we’re not careful.

As we learn to embrace life’s moments — the joys and the sorrows alike — we can truly appreciate the gifts wrapped inside: peace, patience, grace, growth, character, spiritual maturity and a deeper dependence upon him.

Here are some memorable moments of 2014.

  • January began with the celebrations of two milestone birthdays: my step-son’s 16th birthday and my husband’s 50th.
  • March saw us honoring Senior Vice President and CEO of Wycliffe Bible Translators Russ Hersman (Class of ’78) as Multnomah’s 2014 Alumnus of the Year.
  • April was filled with incredible hope and excitement when Dr. Craig Williford was selected as Multnomah’s fifth president.
  • May was a special month of celebration as MU’s class of 1964 had its 50-year reunion and we honored our spring graduates with a commencement ceremony.
  • June was full with wedding celebrations in support of students and sweet friendships the Lord has given me at Multnomah.
  • July brought difficult news of the loss of our fourth president, Dr. Dan Lockwood. I never imagined it would be so difficult to say good bye to such a great leader and dear friend.
  • August was filled with more celebrations: my first wedding anniversary and my father-in-law’s 75th birthday. The month was not without its challenges though. I totaled my jeep after hitting a bull elk (ironically the day right before opening season). I escaped with minor cuts and bruises, but that’s more than I can say for the elk. We are thankful for God’s protection, as it could have been much worse.
  • September brought the exciting news that our seminary was selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to receive part of a $1.5 million grant to incorporate science into our core theological curricula.
  • October offered reasons for celebration again with the scheduled events of Dr. Craig Williford’s Presidential Inauguration. But that was followed by the difficult news that some dear friends (Multnomah alumni) had tragically lost their youngest son. My heart continues to break for them as they grieve incredible loss and learn what it means to lean into Jesus in new ways.
  • December saw our winter graduates walk across the stage of Central Bible Church to receive their diplomas. As they move into graduate school, the workforce or wherever God leads them, we prayed for his blessing and peace on their lives.

Now here we are at the top of a new year. I’m not sure what 2015 will hold, but I keep learning what it means to trust in the one who does.

As you reflect back on 2014, my prayer is that you too would realize his goodness and faithfulness in new ways — even perhaps amidst suffering. For suffering, though difficult, can be God’s way of enhancing our sense of his presence within our lives. It’s often within these difficult places that we find some of his sweetest gifts.

As you walk by faith into seasons unknown, may you walk with confidence, knowing that he walks beside you. And may he continue to weave a beautiful tapestry, through joy and pain, as he shapes you into a deeper dependence upon him and into a greater likeness of his son.

For his glory,


Multnomah University Updates — Winter 2015

Comments Off Written on January 8th, 2015 by
Categories: Newsletter

Looking back on 2014

crosscountry_mainNathan Meeker wins NCCAA Division II National Championship

Nathan Meeker is the first runner from Multnomah University to win an NCCAA cross country title and the first person in MU history to win any type of individual-sport championship. Meeker ran the 8K course in 26 minutes, 39 seconds. His teammate, junior Ryan Brown, finished third in 27:46. 

The rest of the University men's cross country team, as well as Sindy Larson from the women's team, also competed at the championship event, hosted in Houghton, N.Y. “The state of Oregon has a long and rich history of successful distance runners,” Coach David Lee said. “Multnomah is now a part of that history.”

Read Meeker's full press release.

Read Sindy Larson's article.

Community counseling center is open, accepting new clients

CounselingCenter_featureimageThe MU Community Counseling Center, which opened in October 2014, is now seeing and accepting clients. Sandwiched between Sutcliffe Hall and Montavilla Park, the center meets two vital needs: training MAC interns and serving Portland 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 counseling center is also available for Multnomah alumni. Visit the counseling center page to learn more, check prices or make an appointment.

Read the full article.

Seminary awarded national 'Science for Seminaries' grant

SeminaryGrant_thumbLast fall, Multnomah Biblical Seminary was one of 10 seminaries nationwide selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for a combined $1.5 million in grants to incorporate science into core theological curricula.

The grant will provide resources to integrate science into select core courses, such as systematic theology, biblical studies, church history and pastoral theology. The courses will be developed and implemented over the next two years and provide seminarians with solid, science-focused instruction.

“The evangelical movement has benefited greatly from implementing scientific and technological advances in communication and media for gospel proclamation,” said Dr. Paul Louis Metzger, MU seminary professor and director of its Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins.

Read the full press release and FAQ.

Looking ahead in 2015

MU to host Torah dedication ceremony

scroll_featuredLast fall, Ken and Barbara Larson gifted a rare and valuable Torah to Multnomah Biblical Seminary. The Torah, a parchment scroll on which the first five books of the Old Testament were written, is more than two centuries old and was likely used in synagogues.

The scroll’s formal dedication will be hosted February 5, 2015, in the Joseph C. Aldrich Student Center. All alumni are welcome to attend the event, which includes a special chapel at 10 a.m. and colloquium at 11 a.m.

RSVP before January 27 by contacting Joy Kruger at 503-251-5361 or

Read the full press release.

President to share vision for MU's future during national tour

This is your chance to meet MU's new president, Dr. Craig Williford, and hear his vision for Multnomah, which includes:

  • Creating a global campus
  • Inspiring an infectious love of service
  • Building moldable and resilient Christian character
  • Developing a diverse learning community

Vice President of Advancement Steve Cummings and Alumni Director Michelle Peel-Underwood will join Craig as he connects with alumni and friends of MU across the U.S. Visit the presidential tour page for a full list of events and locations.

50-year alumni society event

50YearAlum_thumbMultnomah annually honors its graduates of 50 years by inducting them into our 50-Year Alumni Society. To applaud this important achievement, we have a special day of celebration planned on Friday May 8, 2015. The day's activities will include a baccalaureate chapel, special luncheon and induction ceremony, 50-year class reunion, tour of the campus, and participation in Multnomah's graduation ceremony that evening. This special event is a great way to reconnect with friends and review the Lord's faithfulness for the last 50 years.

RSVP by contacting Michelle Peel-Underwood at 503-251-6458 or

Looking Forward: A Greeting from Dr. Craig Williford

Comments Off Written on January 8th, 2015 by
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A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?

Proverbs 20:24, NIV

By Wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.  

Proverbs 24:3-4, NIV

craig_mainimage_portraitAs a young pastor, I fell into the mistake of developing what I thought were good plans for the church I served and then asking God to bless my plans. Quickly, I discovered my arrogance and the shortcomings of this approach.

Experience has taught me to seek God’s plans for the organizations I served first and then pray that he would enable us to mobilize the organization to accomplish his plans. This humble acknowledgement of our need for biblical wisdom and power — not our own human wisdom and power — is Multnomah University’s starting point and central focus for 2015.

For 2015 and beyond, we believe God wants us to continue building a global campus where more students can receive an MU education from anywhere and at anytime. Providing this less expensive and more accessible MU education will allow students who could not previously afford an MU education the opportunity to be trained and formed as Christ’s followers to serve in numerous capacities. More pastors and lay leaders will be able to gain an in-depth understanding of the Bible and theology. Lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers, civic leaders and those who aspire to serve in these capacities will gain an education saturated in the Bible and professional training.

Watch for the exciting and official news about our new fully online degrees that will be announced in the late spring. These high-quality educational experiences will start with our Bible and theology courses and quickly expand to include fully online options for numerous other programs we offer here at MU.

So, what is happening to our residential programs? I am pleased to say that we will continue to make our residential experiences vibrant and effective. At Multnomah Biblical Seminary, we are working on moving many of our courses to late afternoons, evenings and weekends so working students can find easier ways to complete their course work. We are also going to provide more of our intensive style courses that begin on a Monday and conclude the following Friday.

Also, our seminary dean and faculty are prayerfully considering how we might provide certificates and new programs that would better fit the needs of all those who could benefit from in-depth Bible and theological training. That means a church or community Bible study leaders could access a program uniquely suited for them without all the expense and time to earn a Master’s degree. Stay-at-home moms could take coursework provided in ways that fit the crazy demands and busy schedules they face.

Also, plan on attending one of the upcoming alumni events in your area during the 2015 Presidential Tour. Carolyn and I will be participating in many of these events, where I will be sharing more about MU’s future and answering questions you may have about the marvelous work God is doing at and through MU and its alumni. See you there.



President’s Greeting — Fall 2014

Comments Off Written on October 2nd, 2014 by
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Dear Multnomah Family,

The new school year is successfully under way. I am thankful for all our new and returning students. God enabled us to meet or exceed almost every one of our new student enrollment goals.

Carolyn and I just returned from the All School Retreat, and it was a blast. The Young Life Washington Family Ranch in Eastern Oregon is a beautiful facility. The students, staff and faculty who attended seemed to have a wonderful time. There was such a positive and exciting spirit among all who attended. I judge God was moving in our midst, and I was honored to experience His presence with our students.

Biblical wisdom and power in contrast to human wisdom and power is one of the main themes I am exploring with our Multnomah Family this year. The Apostle Paul said, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel — not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (NIV, I Corinthians 1: 17). And King Solomon told us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

I suggest the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ may be the most complete expression of God’s wisdom and power. When we pursue biblical wisdom we are actually pursuing Christ, who is the living example of biblical wisdom and power.

So, I am calling our Multnomah Family to pursue Christ together this year. I am asking if we, as the body of Christ here at MU, might deepen our love for Him over the months ahead.

On another note, you probably have heard me call Multnomah University a “biblical university”. It may help if I explain in more detail what I mean when I use that descriptor. Here at MU we are biblical university that:

  • Combines the strengths of the Bible college with the strengths of the Christian liberal arts school as we pursue biblical wisdom and power
  • Commits to the inspired, inerrant, authoritative word of God as it frames our explorations and expressions of God’s truth
  • Intentionally works so that biblical and theological studies collaborate and collide with studies in arts and sciences to provide clarity to the most important questions of life
  • Prepares graduates to effectively and faithfully serve in a variety of vocational settings (like full-time, vocational ministry or the public market place) with passion for Christ, a servant’s heart, and a Holy Spirit-formed mind and soul

May I ask a favor? With this deeper understanding of MU as a “biblical university”, will you share the exciting story of MU with your friends and family? Will you continue to pray that God will empower us to do this work He has called us to do?

When you are on campus please introduce yourself — I value meeting members of the MU Alumni Family.

God’s blessings.

Craig Williford

President, Multnomah University

Celebrating the Past and Embracing the Future: Person to Person, Fall 2014

Comments Off Written on October 1st, 2014 by
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It’s an exciting time in Multnomah’s history. Our presidential inauguration for Dr. Craig Williford is just a few weeks away now. As a community, we are energized and enthusiastic in looking forward to this significant celebration. Our focus will be one of “Praise and Worship” – a theme most fitting, I believe, in response to God’s overwhelming blessing to MU at this time.

On the trails of such a difficult season, with the loss of Dr. Lockwood, it feels as if new life is being breathed into the University in beautiful and undeniable ways. I am humbled and honored to be an eye witness participant.

dan and michelle

Dr. Dan and I

As it is with any season of transition, I am learning anew the importance of letting go and of joyfully embracing the future. While, no doubt, history plays a significant role in shaping us and feelings of great loss often accompany that of letting go; it is with this understanding and a hopeful expectation that I look forward to what God has ahead.

I’d like to commemorate this season, if I may, by reflecting on history past and sharing with you a few of my favorite “Dr. Dan” memories.

When I think of Dr. Dan, I remember a man of humility, wisdom, strength, character and ‘over the top’ optimism.

He was inspiring as a biblical scholar, and a remarkable orator with an unbelievable ability to alliterate. His Dr. Dan Magic shows were an all-time favorite for many — an entertaining illusionist extraordinaire.

Over the past decade and a half, I had the privilege of working alongside him and witnessing up close a faith that was awe-inspiring. He was indeed a man of intense faith, demonstrated consistently in his response to what it meant to trust God amidst adversity and in times of life’s unknowns.

He was a man with a beautiful servant’s heart and a genuine interest in people. While there are many things I admired about Dr. Dan, probably one of the most significant memories I have was during the summer of 2009 when I was facing a season of my own adversity. I had been suffering from a relapse of malaria that I had picked up on a mission’s trip a few weeks prior.  Dr. Dan came into my office and sat across from my desk and, with compassion and concern in his eyes, inquired about my health and the decision I had made to follow through with an upcoming alumni trip. He was genuinely concerned. It didn’t matter to him the events that had been scheduled, the plans that had been made, the airfares that had been purchased, or the hotels that had been booked. What he communicated clearly to me that day, was that I mattered!  People were important to him. I was important to him, and he wanted me to be sure that I knew it.

There are no words deep and/or meaningful enough to express the impact of his leadership and the great privilege it has been to know him and serve alongside him these past eighteen years.

I will never forget his last chapel as Multnomah’s president, when he announced to the MU community the grim prognosis from his doctor, and the recommendation to step down from his presidency in order that he might spend some cherished time with family. He spoke with such courage and confidence that day — full of faith and optimism, as one would only imagine coming from Dr. Dan. He said, If ever you are wondering, ‘Is God really a God who loves me...a God who cares for me…is God one who is concerned about every aspect of my life?’...just remember Dan Lockwood as someone who can testify — even in the midst of cancer, maybe near the end of that journey and looking forward to the next great adventure, that God has been good, God has been faithful and God can be trusted.” He graciously and humbly shared from a heart of gratitude that saw God at work even in the face of intense adversity. His cancer journey truly demonstrated what it meant to live a life of faith with full endurance to the finish line.

The values and characteristics of his life have indelibly marked this University and those he has served. Today on Multnomah’s campus, you’ll find in our prayer circle a bronze plaque placed in his honor that reads: “Honoring A Legacy of Faith – Dr. Daniel R. Lockwood, Multnomah University’s Fourth President, 1997-2013. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6.” We have also changed the name and focus of the Multnomah Fund to “The Dr. Dan Lockwood Student Aid Fund”.

My hope is that this commemorative plaque and Dr. Dan’s student aid fund will serve as a continued reminder to the Multnomah community of the faith he demonstrated in the life that he lived.

Whether or not you knew Dan personally, my prayer for all of us today is that our hearts would be encouraged and challenged to live with such faith. As we embrace the future, the unknowns and what God has ahead, let us not forget: “God is good. God is faithful, and God can be trusted.”

Celebrating the past and embracing the future,

Michelle M. Peel-Underwood  B.A. '00, M.A. '10

Director of Alumni Relations

P.S. I’m looking forward to helping introduce Multnomah’s fifth president, Dr. Craig Williford, during our Presidential tour coming next spring. Look for more details to come.


Learn more about the Dr. Dan Lockwood Student Aid Fund or continue his legacy by contributing to it. 

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
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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
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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.

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Of the many activities held during commencement, our 50-year alumni society event has traditionally been one of my favorites. This year was no different. We inducted 24 members from the class of 1964 into Multnomah’s 50-year alumni society, and I was, once again, struck by the significance of this half-century mark that underscores the legacy of a Multnomah education. I believe it is a tangible expression of our rich heritage that demonstrates God’s faithfulness throughout the generations and the importance of a vital daily relationship with Him.

"Our years of training at Multnomah have resulted in much fruit, both here and abroad," said 50-year society member Dr. Tim Aldrich. The former faculty member was encouraged by the reunion with his former classmates — and by meeting MU's new president, Dr. Craig Williford, at the event.

"During the last 50 years, Multnomah has changed in response to the needs of a changing world by adding facilities, new majors and faculty members," Aldrich said. "And yet, at its core is a solid commitment to the transforming power of the Word. Having met Dr. Williford, I am confident that he will continue the Multnomah tradition and its commitment to the Word of God."

Anticipating What is Ahead

It is an honor and a great joy to be a part of the ongoing legacy of Multnomah. As I reflect back on our history, in anticipation of what is ahead, I am excited for the future. While admittedly it has been a challenging season, I have never been more encouraged to see God at work in such amazing ways.

It has been a season of prayer, as we’ve collectively sought the Lord for the man or woman who would lead the ministry of Multnomah in this next chapter. Thank you for the part you’ve played in partnering with us here. God has far exceeded our expectations and we are humbled by His graciousness in His selection of Multnomah’s new president.

I’m excited for you to meet Dr. Craig and his wife Carolyn. I think you’ll find that beyond the wealth of experience in higher education, leadership and pastoral ministry that Craig brings, he and Carolyn both have a heart for the Savior and a recognition of  their deep dependence upon Him.

A Man of Humility and Prayer

“We humbly take our place within the distinguished line of former and current trustees, faculty, staff, administration and presidents who served so sacrificially,” Craig said in response to the board of trustee’s invitation to serve as Multnomah’s fifth president. In reading his latest book, "How to Treat a Staff Infection — Resolving Problems in Your Church or Ministry Team", I’ve been encouraged to see his heart for people and ministry, as well as his incredible insight and vision for leadership. His obvious dependence on the Lord, his humility and his heart for prayer is most inspiring.

In closing, I want to leave you with the charge Craig gave to his readers: “May you always lead with godliness, humility, wisdom, courage, grace, mercy, respect, and love. As under-shepherds who report to the Head Shepherd — Christ himself — how else will we mobilize others to serve in God’s kingdom with distinction? What an awesome responsibility!”

What an awesome responsibility indeed, and what a privilege it is to serve and be a part of what God is doing this side of heaven.

In awe of God’s grace,

Michelle M. Peel-Underwood,  B.A. '00, M.A. '10

Director of Alumni Relations

Multnomah University