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THE EXPERIENCE The Magazine of Warner Pacific College

Summer 2005

Young Alumni Profiles

From courtrooms to concert halls, alumni like attorney Sonya Fischer (‘88) are making their mark on the world. - Page 6

• College pays off portion of GEOS loan - pg. 2

• Campus News - pg. 3

• Professors take counseling skills overseas - pg. 4

• Class Notes - pg. 14

from our president...

Contents 3 The Best Baja Yet:

WPC sends its largest group to date on the annual missions trip to Mexico.

4 Social Science professors teach counseling skills overseas:

Phyllis Michael will train family counselors in China, while Sandy Ahlquist teaches social workers in Albania.

(L to R) Warner Pacific Vice President, Treasurer, and COO Wayne Pederson; WPC president Jay Barber (‘64); and Board of Trustees Chair Jim Teague (‘75) display a replicate of the final $1.34 million mortgage payment Warner Pacific paid to the Japanese-based GEOS Corporation in May.

College pays off portion of GEOS loan, Barber presidency extends to third term.


n 1989, Warner Pacific College entered into a financial relationship with the Japanese-owned organization GEOS International, allowing the College to refinance its long-term debt. The arrangement included a mortgage and a lease agreement involving campus property GEOS purchased and then leased back to Warner Pacific. At that time, the College faced double-digit interest rates on its debt, much of which was comprised of notes with individuals who had supported the College for many years. Many believed this refinancing plan saved the College, even though constituents had major concerns about a thirty-year obligation to a foreign partner. I am greatly pleased to announce that through the wonderful generosity of anonymous donors, Warner Pacific paid off the $1.34 million mortgage portion of its GEOS loan on May 18, 2005, some thirteen years ahead of schedule. Regent Jim Walker and I flew to Tokyo last March to notify GEOS leadership of our intent to pay off the mortgage. We also asked GEOS to forgive a significant pre-payment penalty. CEO Dr. Tsuneo Kusunoki recently notified us that GEOS would forgive the prepayment penalties on both the mortgage and the lease, which still has a balance of $2.9 million. This represents nearly $500,000 in forgiven penalties. We hope to completely retire the lease agreement within the next three years. In light of the momentum created by this wonderful milestone, the Board of Trustees has allowed me to postpone my scheduled retirement next year and extend my presidency into a third five-year term. Please celebrate with us by thanking and praising the Lord, “From whom all blessings flow!” This is indeed the work of His hand. Blessings,

Meet eleven alumni who are making their mark on the world.

16 First Person: Close encounters of the

“I-Thou” kind: What a vine maple, my infant son, and Martin Buber taught me about life at its most beautiful,” by Matthew Plies (‘94).

The Experience is produced three times a year by the Office of College Communications for alumni and friends of Warner Pacific College. Editor / Photographer / Designer: Scott A. Thompson Contributors: Jay A. Barber, Jr. (’64) Matthew Plies (‘94) Derek Bradford (‘90) Mary Murphy (‘05) Photo Illustrations: Richelle Caffall Printing: Good Impressions Printing Warner Pacific is an urban Christian liberal arts college dedicated to providing students from diverse backgrounds an education that prepares them for the spiritual, moral, social, vocational, and technological challenges of the 21st Century. WPC is affiliated with the Church of God, Anderson, Ind. Warner Pacific College 2219 SE 68th Ave Portland, OR 97215 503-517-1000

President Jay A. Barber, Jr. (‘64)

Cover photo: Attorney Sonya Fischer (‘88) practices family law in Lake Oswego, Ore. Photograph by Scott A. Thompson.


6 Young Alumni Profiles:

The Experience

Please send written comments via e-mail to or by regular mail to the above address c/o Editor, The Experience Magazine. Copyright ©2005 Warner Pacific College. All rights reserved.

Campus News


College’s Early Learning Center welcomes very special children

The Best Baja Yet WPC sends its largest group to date on the annual missions trip to Mexico


ive-year-old Keeahra Blanford-Radford may be quiet, but there is no mistaking the fun she has had at the Early Learning Center, WPC’s community preschool. Keeahra (pronounced KeeAR-a) is one of three children with delayed speaking skills who attended the ELC this spring through collaboration with the Multnomah Education Service District, a county

Derek Bradford

Mary Murphy

Derek Bradford

(Photos, clockwise) Bob Koeth (’81), Sarah Carver (’05), Bronwynne Carlsen (‘07), and Scott Waters (’06) take a break from construction; Nathan Dunbar (’01) (with coffee can) and David Betts (’05) dig a latrine; students put a wall into place; Kyle Wheeler (’06) gets tackled by a group of laughing children.

Greetings from Greg Moon,Warner Pacific’s new Director of Development

I Greg Moon brings over twenty-seven years of fundraising experience to Warner Pacific’s Development Office.

Derek Bradford

ver forty WPC students, staff, faculty, and alumni spent spring break working on various construction projects in the small Mexican town of Vicente Guerrero, on the Baja Peninsula. Work teams constructed a small home for the family of a disabled man, added a kitchen to a local church, dug latrines by hand, and made repairs to the home of a missionary. Teams also distributed food and clothing to migrant work camps in the area. “This trip was perfect,” said David Christian (’06), who grew up in Vicente Guerrero. “At first I was really dreading it, [accommodating] so many people. But it was amazing. God was there throughout the whole thing.” WPC group members stayed in the homes of local families, something Christian says rarely happens when work crews come. Junior Kyle Wheeler was amazed at the generosity of the members of his host family, which gave up their beds to him and fellow students Scott Waters (’06) and Jeff Marsh (’05). “[Their home] was basically like a shed,” the 6’7’’ Wheeler said. “The family was so generous and loving. They gave up everything they had for us. It was definitely life-changing.”

am honored to take on the role of Director of Development at Warner Pacific, a college with a rich heritage and an exciting future. I have a diverse background in all aspects of fundraising. I worked for twenty-five years with the YMCA and most recently directed a successful, multi-million dollar capital campaign with the Portland chapter of the Salvation Army. I believe that a personal, ongoing relationship with those who invest in Warner Pacific is at the center of it all. I would like to get to know as many of our current donors as possible, and also develop new relationships that will further the work of WPC and solidify the future of our students. Proverbs 18:16 teaches us, “a gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great.” It is our responsibility to provide opportunities for our students to grow in their faith and their understanding of their role as believers and Christian leaders. I will strive to make WPC worthy of your trust. Please contact me at 503-517-1028 or at any time.

Summer 2005

Five-year-old Keeahra BlanfordRadford, who has delayed speaking skills, enjoys play time with Early Learning Center director Katey Sandy. agency that provides special education programs to approximately 16,000 children. “We have to provide the opportunity for [special needs children] to experience education in a regular Pre-K setting,” said ELC director Katey Sandy. Last fall, Sandy secured three $600 scholarships from a pool of Education Enhancement funds made available to the College by an anonymous donor. She contacted the MESD and offered the onetime scholarships to three of its students. Keeahra’s mother, Joycelyn Blanford, said her daughter has learned a tremendous amount at the ELC. “[Keeahra] loves her teachers,” Blanford said. “She’s actually started to be more outgoing—meeting friends, being more social. She’s learning a whole lot.”


Campus News Chapin, Bielman voted faculty and staff persons of the year.

Business professor Lois Chapin and Director of Campus Ministries Jess Bielman are the 2004-2005 faculty and staff persons of the year, as voted by the students body. Chapin, who has twice chaired the Chapin Business Department, recently announced that she was leaving Warner Pacific after eleven years of teaching. Bielman just completed his third year in his current Bielman position.

Anonymous gift provides academic enhancements.

Due to the generosity of an anonymous donor, WPC’s Academic Council dedicated $50,000 toward enhancements in academic programs and opportunities this year. Funded projects included physical improvements to dormito-

ries, desktop publishing instruction for students, and video cameras for faculty use.

MBC’s Melki honored.

Warner Pacific awarded an honorMelki ary Doctor of Theology degree to Camille Melki—president of Mediterranean Bible College, in Beirut, Lebanon—at Spring Commencement, May 7, 2005. Melki became the third president of the sister Church of God school in November, 2004.

Chandler to lead student body. Donovan Chandler (’06) was elected ASWPC president for the 2005-2006 academic year. Chandler is a Religion and Christian Ministries major from Salem, Ore. and is a third generation WPC Chandler student.

Do you see Orange?

In coordination with the Christian relief agency World Vision, Warner Pacific students dedicated the week of March 28 to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic in Africa. Students, staff, and faculty wore orange teeshirts to represent the 14 million African children orphaned thus far by AIDS (a number experts predict will double by 2010). The week also featured guest speakers from World Vision, the screening of a documentary film about AIDS in Africa, and a dodgeball tournament fundraiser.

Professors to teach counseling skills overseas


ocial Science professors Phyllis Michael and Sandy Ahlquist are taking their counseling expertise abroad. Michael will spend nearly three weeks this June teaching marital and family therapy to counselors in Shenyang, China. Ahlquist will travel to Tirana, Albania in July to discuss issues related to domestic violence and substance abuse with approximately twenty Albanian and Kosovor social workers and psychologists. The professors will serve on teams sponsored by TELOS International, a non-profit organization founded in 1987 by Michael and her husband—Dr. Rand Michael of George Fox University— as a way to bring advanced, short-term training in psychosocial skills to countries where such resources are scarce. The Michaels received a $96,000 grant in March to partially fund a long-term training program in Shenyang, and possibly two other cities. They wrote curriculum this spring, and will use the grant to pay for translation services and to hire a two-person staff to operate the program in Shinyang year-round. Professors Phyllis Michael (left) and Sandy Ahlquist “Marriage and family therapy is based on a perspective that [says] we are not isolated individuals, and that everything we do influences, and is influenced, by those in our relationship network,” said Michael, who teaches Human Development and Family Studies at Warner Pacific. “It fits in nicely with Chinese culture.” The Albanian agency Bethany Social Services will host Ahlquist and the other members of her TELOS team, which includes Oregon therapist Glenn Koppang, and Ahlquist’s husband, Murray, who will provide computer help at Bethany. The three are funding the trip themselves. “We’re going to teach [in the mornings] and then in the afternoon put [the students] in smaller groups to actually practice,” said Ahlquist, a licensed clinical social worker. “We want to give them an experience of one-on-one counseling, working with the skills we’ve been teaching them.”


The Experience

Student filmmaker promotes TIP chapter.

Communicatin Arts major Andria Cotton (’05) directed and edited a minuteCotton long promotional video for the Portland/Vancouver chapter of the Trauma Intervention Program, a national organization that trains volunteers to assist citizens in crisis. The video will be used for promotional purposes by TIP chapters nationwide. Cotton studied film production in Southern California before transferring to Warner Pacific in 2003.

Scottish arts festival beckons actor.

Junior Tyler Caffall will take the stage in Edinburgh, Scotland this August at the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, one of the world’s largest art festivals. Caffall Caffall will perform a leading role in a performance of Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prizewinning play How I Learned to Drive. Caffall met the play’s director last year when he was studying for a semester at Oxford University, in England.

Woods, Sun named All-Conference.

Donny Woods (‘06) and Angie Sun (‘06) were named All Cascade Conference players for the 2004-2005 men’s and women’s basketball seasons. Woods, a 6’5’’ forward from Tacoma, Wash., averaged 17.6 points a game and led the Knights in rebounds and assists. Sun is a 5’3’’ guard from Lake Oswego, Ore. who averaged 14.7 points per game for the women’s team.


Track team hosts conference championships, sends trio to NAIA meet.

Born to ride Sally Brown (‘08) is a former high school rodeo champion who trains horses back home in Baker City, Ore.


ally Brown (‘08) can hardly remember a time when she wasn’t riding a horse. The Business Administration major from Baker City, Ore. grew up on her family’s horse farm and trains horses for rodeo competition. She competed at four consecutive Oregon High School Rodeo Association championships from 2000 to 2004, and took first in goat tying and third in cutting at the 2004 state championships in Klamath Falls. (In rodeo competition, women dismount and tie the legs of a goat, rather than a calf. In cutting, riders direct a horse without using their Business major Sally Brown (‘08) looks hands). Her efforts at state qualified to a career in pharmaceutical sales that her for the 2004 National High School will allow her the flexibility to continue Rodeo Association championships in Gillette, Wyo., where she finished 28th in raising and training horses. goat tying and 56th in “I feel blessed to cutting. be able to do the “Rodeo has been things I’ve done,” part of my life since I said Brown. “I am can remember,” said really grateful for the 6’1’’ Brown, who the scholarships also played basketball that I’ve received.” at Warner Pacific this Brown continues year. “I’m used to long Brown ropes a calf during competition to appear in drives.” last year. (Photo courtesy of In His amateur rodeos Brown first visited Image Photography, Burns, Oregon.) when time permits. Warner Pacific last She is looking to year while she and a career in pharmaceutical sales that her mother were delivering a horse to will provide her the flexibility to earn a Mollala, Ore. Brown enjoyed the feel living, with the spare time to continue of the campus and decided to enroll, raising and training horses back home even though she had offers to compete in Eastern Oregon. in rodeo and basketball at other schools. “I want all of the benefits of having As it turned out, she still received a job, while also being able to focus on enough academic, athletic, and rodeo the things I love to do,” she said. scholarships to pay for school.


Intern gets look inside law enforcement

The WPC Athletics Department hosted the 2005 Cascade Conference Track and Field championships on April 30, at Mt. Hood Community College, in Gresham, Ore. Track and Field coach David Lee and his crew gathered forty-one volunteer officials to guide 420 athletes from eight schools through the various competitions. The Warner men finished fourth, and the women fifth. During the meet, high jumper Erin Kinney (‘07) and runner Kalen Abbott (‘05) (5K, Steeple chase) qualified for the NAIA national championships, held May 26-28 in Louisville, Ky. They joined shot putter Ann-Erica Whitemarsh (‘07), who qualified for nationals earlier in the season.

Social work major Chris Staley (’05) got an insider’s view at law enforcement this spring as an intern with the Clark County Sheriff Department in his hometown of Vancouver, Wash. Staley worked on a major research project examining the county’s declining jail population. He also accompanied deputies on calls and shadowed a social worker. Staley says his internship and social work studies will be an ideal background when he pursues a career in law enforcement. “All of the family therapy and psychology classes help you really understand what is going on a person’s life, so you don’t make biased assumptions,” Staley said. “People who haven’t had that training are at a big disadvantage.”

Summer 2005



From law to medicine, education to ministry, Warner Pacific alumni are making their mark in a variety of careers. In this special issue, we profile eleven younger alumni to see what lessons they’ve learned along the way. By Scott A. Thompson Editor

The Advocate

Sonya Fischer (‘88) Family Law Attorney Portland, Oregon


ttorney Sonya Fischer (’88) became an advocate for children with disabilities out of necessity. Twenty years ago, she gave birth to a severely disabled child at a time when Oregon offered scant resources for families that wanted to care for their special needs children at home.

In the ensuing years—whether as a social worker, legislative aid, or lobbyist—Fischer worked at the local and state level to push for policy change that would better serve parents like her. Now as an attorney specializing in family law, Fischer has gone from working to create law to defending—or challenging—it through the judicial process. “Because I worked in government, I understood how to implement a policy,” Fischer said. “What I didn’t have an understanding of was how the courts are going to interpret that policy…[Now] I have all the tools available.” Unexpected journey Fischer’s daughter, Christine, now 20, was born with Angelman Syndrome, a rare chromosomal disorder that left her unable to speak or progress past the mental capacity of a toddler. When doctors originally diagnosed Christine’s condition, the news devastated

Scott Thompson


Cover Story

Sonya Fischer (‘88) was one of a small group of parents whose efforts in the mid-1990s helped lead to landmark legislation in Oregon that supported families with severely disabled children.

Fischer, and her former husband, Matt Fischer. Fischer admits that, in her grief, she saw little value in her daughter’s life. During this time, she was enrolled at Warner Pacific College to study sociology and social work. The Warner Pacific community not only became an invaluable source of support, but also caused Fischer to reevaluate her feelings for Christine. “I had the most amazing support system at that school being a very young mother dealing with incredibly painful issues,” said Fischer. “That whole process catapulted me from a point of intense grief, thinking, ‘This child doesn’t have any worth’ to ‘This child has so much worth the whole world needs to realize how important she is and we have to change the laws in the state of Oregon so families get help.’”

The Experience

A circle of friends While at Warner Pacific, Fischer started a support group for parents from the community with disabled children. Her leadership attracted the attention of Multnomah County, which recruited her to be a case manager working on behalf people with disabilities. That experience propelled Fischer to pursue a master’s degree in Public Administration at Portland State University. Later in 1996, she returned to work for Multnomah County as a program development specialist. Pressure mounting Meanwhile, life at home worsened. For the first eight years of Christine’s life, the Fischers tried to take care of their daughter themselves, with the steady help of Matt’s parents, Rev. Loren and Joyce Fischer, of Boring Ore. But as Christine became older, the strain on the family became too great. By then, Sonya and Matt had had a second daughter, Joy, whose needs repeatedly came second to those of Christine. In 1993, the Fischers placed Christine in a foster home. “Oregon was one of three states in the nation that did not have in-home support for children with severe disabilities,” Fischer said. “As my daughter was getting older she was one of the hardest kids around. She didn’t sleep at night. We had to watch her constantly. She destroyed everything…We couldn’t manage her needs.”

Learning the system In addition to her roles at Multnomah County, Fischer worked as a legislative assistant during three state sessions in the 1990s, first for representative Sharon Wylie, and later for senator Frank Shields. She learned about crafting policy and working the political system. But it was as Christine’s mother that Fischer had the most influence in helping Oregon children with disabilities. With the guidance of the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities, Fischer and three other mothers brought their concerns before state officials, particularly those in the Department of Human Services. Eventually, in the late 1990s, the legislature approved landmark reform that allowed state funds to support inhome care for the families of the most severely disabled children. Christine eventually moved from foster care into her paternal grandparents’ home, where she still receives in-home care by state workers. “This [legislation] is for the kids that get institutionalized or whose families can’t manage them,” Fischer said. “You have alarms on the doors, locks on the cupboards. Those children. It’s ridiculous to think that you’re not going to help families with that level of need.” Fischer went on to graduate from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland in 2002. She worked as a lobbyist in Salem, and later joined the Portland law firm Johnson Renshaw and Lechman-Su in 2004. This April, she launched her own law practice in Lake Oswego, Ore. “You change and you grow and you realize what is valuable and important,” said Fischer, who now lives with Joy, 16, and son Nathan, 8. “Christine taught me that giving and receiving love holds life’s greatest purpose”

Sharon (Guenther, ‘89) Lind

VP of Operations, Alaska Native Heritage Center Anchorage, Alaska


hen Sharon (Guenther, ‘89) Lind left her tiny hometown of Kenai, Alaska to attend Warner Pacific College in 1985, she had no intention of ever moving back home. However, an unexpected job opportunity not only led her back to Alaska, but also drew her closer to her own Alaskan Native heritage. Soon after graduating from WPC with a degree in Business Administration, Lind, who is a member of the Aleut nation, landed a managerial position in the Aleut Corporation, one of thirteen Alaska Native Regional Corporations formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act for Alaska’s indigenous people. The Aleut Corporation promotes economic development for the people from the Aleutian region, which consists of 200 remote islands in southwest Alaska. “I had no desire to go back to Alaska whatsoever,” Lind said. “Then a management position came open [with The Aleut Corporation]. I thought it was a pretty good opportunity.” In 1999, Lind became president of the Aleut Foundation, where she raised funds for college scholarships for Aleut youth. She held that position until last year, when she became the Vice PresiSharon (Guenther, ‘89) Lind dent of Operations for the has drawn closer to her own Alaska Native Heritage native Aleut heritage while working for organizations that Center, a dual museum promote the well-being of native and educational center in Alaskans. Anchorage, Alaska. The Center opened in 1999 with the mission to preserve and perpetuate the culture, languages, traditions, and values of Native Alaskans. Lind oversees four managers who, in turn, manage transportation, the gift shop, information technologies, and facility rentals. “We do a little bit of everything,” said Lind, who is studying for her MBA at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. “We’re not just educating tourists, but we educate Alaska Natives. We teach language. We have high school programs, and many other programs, to promote cultural awareness.” Lind says that though many Natives struggle in their attempt to attend college, her experience of leaving rural Alaska to attend Warner Pacific was extremely positive. She says it led to considerable personal growth. “When you take a kid from rural Alaska and put them in [the city], they face a lot of issues,” said Lind. “Warner was a great place to build my Christian foundation, with Christian friends around me, and with Christian instructors. I found out who I was.”

Summer 2005


Photo courtesy Alaska Native Heritage Center

“That whole process catapulted me from… thinking, ‘This child doesn’t have any worth’ to ‘This child has so much worth the whole world needs to realize how important she is.’”

Cultural Ambassador

Young Alumni To make matters worse, students with promise typically leave the DCR to study medicine abroad—never to return. Umbalo is the exception. He felt compelled to return to his home country and build a clinic and training center that could provide basic health care in a region ravaged by diseases like malaria and typhoid fever. “The doctor-to-patient ratio is 1 to 13,000, because more and more doctors are leaving the country due to lack of supplies,” Umbalo said. “What’s even more sad is that there are thousands of children dying below the age of five, and they are dying unnecessarily. Now if I know I’ve been trained [and] I could be there to help, why shouldn’t I?”

Naturopathic doctor Yumba Umbalo has cofounded a clinic in his home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to provide basic medical care to the poor.

Building a clinic In January of this year, Umbalo, along with his business partner Dr. Wayne Centrone, of Portland, Ore., set up a free, walk-in clinic in the southern city of Lubum-

“There are thousands of children dying below the age of five, and they are dying unnecessarily. Now if I know I’ve been trained [and] I could be there to help, why shouldn’t I?”

Scott Thompson

Missionary Doctor Dr. Yumba Umbalo (‘99)

The Democratic Republic of the Congo


n less than a year, Dr. Yumba Umbalo (’99) has gone from being a hard-working medical student to serving as the co-founder of a fledgling medical charity that is serving the poor in his native country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DCR). After earning his Biology degree from WPC in 1999, Umbalo went on to graduate from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM), in Portland, Ore., in 2004. He expected he would complete his medical residency back in the DCR (See The Experience, Spring 2004), however, Umbalo couldn’t find a suitable mentor. After decades of political and economic struggle, the DCR’s health care system is in shambles. With a population over 68 million, the DCR has only three medical schools. And according to government health officials Umbalo interviewed, the system is rife with corruption and poor equipment. 8

The Experience

bashi with the help of $400,000 worth of donated medical supplies from hospitals and clinics in Oregon. “The clinic is coming along slowly,” Umbalo wrote last April via e-mail. “We have been treating various illnesses and delivering babies. The clinic has two nurses and two doctors, including myself. This month we are seeing a few patients.” The birth of a vision Umbalo and Centrone first met as medical students at the NCMN. In 2001, Centrone invited Umbalo along for a short-term medical mission to Peru, where the duo visited small villages and provided free medical examinations for children and adults. That trip led the doctors to imagine setting up permanent operations in the DCR and, later, in Peru. Their vision is to use the Lubumbashi clinic to provide ongoing training for Congolese health care workers, in addition to serving patients. They plan to recruit foreign doctors who will offer short-term, intensive seminars addressing everything from the use of basic medical equipment to more advanced medical treatments, both alternative and conventional. “We will have the equipment that they don’t have,” explained Umbalo, “More than equipment, we will have other health care providers come from the outside. We’re encouraging an exchange of skill and knowledge.” If Umbalo weren’t busy enough working at the clinic and raising funds for the effort, he got married last December to a Congolese nursing student he met during one of his earlier trips home. The couple is expecting their first child this coming December.

Church Planters Pastor Mark (‘93) and Lori (Reed, ‘94) Fast LifePoint Church Renton, Washington

P Photo courtesy Mark Fast

State-wide support Although the Fasts didn’t know anyone in Fairwood at the time of their move, they were not alone in starting LifePoint Church. They had the blessing of their former senior pastor, Rev. Randy Hood (’78), and church leaders at New Horizons, who committed $10,000 per year for three years to help LifePoint’s startup. In all, seven Churches of God in Washington and around 80 families and individuals are supporting LifePoint Church through finances and prayer, making it a truly statewide effort. “Statistics would say only one out of five church plants make it past two years,” said Mark. “The level of the support that we have received—financial and prayer wise—has been so crucial to us.”

Lori (Reed, ‘94) and Mark Fast (‘93) moved from Spokane, Wash. to the Seattle area last fall to start LifePoint Church. The Fasts have used a variety of creative means to get the word out about the new ministry. our community and our culture for Christ. Our whole approach has been to get here and network, network, network. It’s very much [a desire] to integrate into the neighborhood.” A family of ministers Mark is a third-generation Warner Pacific graduate and comes from a family of ministers. His late grandfather, A. J. Fast (’51) was

“We are trying to engage our community and our culture for Christ. Our whole approach has been to get here and network, network, network.” an evangelist and pastor. Mark’s father, Rev. Dallas Fast (’66), is the minister of music at Centralia Community Church of God, in Centralia, Wash., where Mark’s uncle, Rev. The Fasts lead worship. Darcy Fast (’69), is the senior pastor. Lori is a second-generation Warner Pacific graduate who earned her degree in Human Development. She leads the worship team at LifePoint, while also serving as full-time mom to daughter Morgan (7), and sons Riley (5) and Cameron (2). Though the church is still young, Lori is confident that LifePoint Church can thrive. “We are surrounded by a wonderful church family and people who can help us grow spiritually, yet we are also surrounded by those who need a church home and are looking for something more for their lives,” Lori said. “It will be exciting to see how God continues to work in this community and beyond through LifePoint.”

Summer 2005


Photo courtesy Mark Fast

A growing community One of the reasons the Fasts chose the Fairwood area is that it’s booming with new home construction, which means plenty of young families relocating and potentially looking for a church. The Fasts came at the start of 2004 and quickly established a “launch team” comprised of a dedicated group of volunteers. In the ensuing months, the group mailed a total of 45,000 postcards to area households, and also hung 5,000 door hangers announcing the arrival of LifePoint Church. Their biggest feat, however, was hosting a preview event called “Fairwood Family Day” at the middle school last September. They served free hot dogs and drinks, provided a petting zoo, pony rides, and inflatable play equipment for kids—all the while spreading the word about LifePoint Church. Around 500 people attended. Currently, LifePoint hosts approximately 120 adults and children each Sunday for its morning service. “There’s something we refer to as missional living,” said Mark, who majored in both Religion and Christian Ministries and Business Administration at Warner Pacific. “We are basically trying to engage

Scott Thompson

astor Mark (’93) and Lori (Reed, ’94) Fast have embarked on what is known in the church planting world as a “parachute drop.” After spending over nine years in Spokane, Wash.—where Mark served as an associate pastor at New Horizons Community Church—the Fasts and their three children moved across the state last year to plant LifePoint Church in the growing southeast Seattle suburb of Fairwood. The church, which meets at Northwood Middle School, officially launched last November with over 200 adults and children in attendance. “Our move to Fairwood and the launch of LifePoint Church has been the most challenging experience I have been through, along with being the most rewarding,” Lori said. “It’s so exciting to think that even six months ago, this church did not exist, and now we are reaching new people every Sunday with the message of Christ.”

Young Alumni

Ski Pioneer Kirsten Alburg (‘99)

Founder and Director Alaska Bush Alpine Ski Program


hen Kirsten Alburg (‘99) accepted her first teaching job six years ago, she headed to one of the most traditional Native villages in Alaska—Savoonga, located on St. Lawrence Island, in the Bering Sea. Savoonga has a population of around 650 mostly Siberian Yup’ik who still largely depend on subsistence hunting. The residents also face the same troubling dynamics—such as extreme isolation, unemployment, and substance abuse—that have contributed to Native Alaskans having a suicide rate four times higher than the U.S. national average. Alburg wanted to offer her students at the small K-12 village school some unexpected inspiration.

ABASP skier Alex Rippen negotiates a hill at Alyeska Ski Resort, in Girdwood, Alaska.

Alburg founded the Savoonga Alpine Ski Team in a coastal village that rests 52 feet above sea level. She started with eight students, three coaches, and two snowmobiles. That venture eventually led Alburg to found and direct the Alaska Bush Alpine Ski Program (ABASP), which currently involves 55 students from five different Native Alaskan villages and culminates each spring with a week of skiing at Alyeska Ski Resort in Girdwood, outside Anchorage, Alaska. “Children in rural Alaska are very limited in their understanding of things beyond their village, town, or region,” Alburg wrote, via email. “Some, at 13 or 14 years old, have never been out of their village, never have interacted with another culture, 10

Teacher Kirsten Alburg (center, above) created the Alaska Bush Ski Program to help students from small Alaskan villages experience the challenge of downhill skiing. Children practice throughout the year using snowmobiles (upper right) all in hopes of attending a ski trip to the Alyeska Ski Resort each spring (lower right). (All photos courtesy of Kirsten Alburg). and especially have never been to a ski resort. Our program was developed to not only introduce Alaskan children to the wonderful sport of alpine skiing, but to also foster hope for a future that these kids desperately need.” Overcoming resistance Alburg says the first year was an “out of this world” experience for all involved. Village elders were unsupportive, and student skiers had to split ski training with whale and walrus hunting. But eight students persevered and raised enough money to fly off the island to Alyeska, which discounted lift tickets and helped the team find housing. The trip was a huge success. “The kids developed a passion for alpine skiing, discovered many opportunities in

Serious business As fun as ABASP is, Alburg sees it as a matter of survival for many of her students. She has already lost four former students to suicide and knows that helping instill pride in these village children and their communities is no small feat. “With all of the suicides, many don’t make it through their teenage years,” Alburg said “[The teachers] fought for and worked together to create positive pro-

“Our program was developed to not only introduce Alaskan children to the wonderful sport of alpine skiing, but to also foster hope for a future these kids desperately need.” life, and went home with a sense of pride,” Alburg said. “Not long after the trip, the Anchorage Daily News wrote a front-page story about our kids and their accomplishments, which made the villagers of Savoonga very proud.” High standards Children involved in the ABASP have to meet high academic and behavioral standards to participate. The program has gradually grown as other village schools have started their own teams. Students learn the basics of skiing by being towed behind snowmobiles or by skiing down small hills. Alburg prepared an ABASP coaching manual for teachers or community members who want to start a team, but who aren’t skilled skiers. The Experience

grams that foster hope and pride for our students like the world was going to end tomorrow, because for some it did.” More support to come ABASP has attracted the support of some key organizations, including ski equipment and apparel giant Rossignol and Challenge Alaska, a non-profit that helps people with disabilities enjoy recreation in Alaska. However, fundraising remains an acute need. Alburg is working to register ABASP as a non-profit organization and expand the number of supporters. “I love seeing [kids’] faces and hearing their excitement.” said Alburg, who last year accepted a 6th grade teaching position inland in the village of Akiachak, Alaska. “This is my way of making a difference.”

Mend it Man Brady Lander (‘02)

Owner, Brady’s Auto Body, Inc. Vancouver, Washington


rady Lander (‘02) has never considered himself a corporate man. In 2001, when he was studying business at Warner Pacific, he arranged an internship with a mom-and-pop auto body shop in his hometown of Vancouver, WA, specifically to learn about running a small business. Lander proved such a quick study that at the end of the internship, the owners offered to sell him their business on contract so they could enjoy a long-awaited retirement. Lander crafted a business plan and asked his father, Vancouver-based ac-

Scott Thompson

Brady Lander bought his Vancouver, Wash. Auto Body shop before he even had graduated from Warner Pacific.

countant Phil Lander (‘72), to become a silent business partner. Brady’s Auto Body was born. “I look back and I think I’ve only been doing it for months and it’s been three years,” said Lander, 24. “I feel old.” Bootstrap marketing Unlike the previous owners, who depended solely on word-of-mouth for busi-

A matter of money Lander says the practical aspects of running the business haven’t been that difficult. Securing financing for his new shop, however, put his business sense to the test. “I wrote the business plan and brought it to a bank,” Lander said. “If you can show someone what your vision is and how you’re going to pay them back, they’re willing to [loan you the money]. It’s cost-risk analysis for them too.” Lander’s ultimate goal is to turn more of the day-to-day operations over to his employees so he can spend more time with his

“I think it’s less risky to own my own business because I control my future. My business is going to grow or it’s going to die depending upon what I do.” ness, Lander has put plenty of effort into marketing the business, especially through direct mailings. And the effort is paying off. He currently has ten employees and more business than his current shop can handle. He recently secured financing to construct a 13,000 square-foot shop that will open just down the road in November. He plans Summer 2005

wife Tana (Teague, ’02) and one-year-old daughter, Taylor. He easily puts in 65 hours a week running the shop now. “I’m not looking to get rich,” Lander said. “I want to make a good living for my family. With anything, you have to step out on a limb and surround yourself with good people to help you.” 11

Scott Thompson

to stock it with entirely new equipment, as well. “I think it’s less risky to own my own business because I control my future,” Lander said. “My business is going to grow or it’s going to die depending upon what I do. The biggest advertisers are the people who have gotten their cars fixed and are happy.” Although Lander has learned plenty about operating a business, he wasn’t a stranger to the tools of the auto body trade. He and his father restore hot rods as a hobby. His studies at Warner Pacific helped round out the business theory he needed to turn his love of cars into a viable business. “[The Business professors] taught us the basics,” Lander said. “I use human resources, marketing, finances. I use everything we were taught.”

Young Alumni

Fitness Pro

creek, Ore., in rural Clackamas County. She stayed at that club two years before striking out on her own. “I enjoy doing my own thing, having my own hours,” said Carlson. “The downfall is you have to be really motivated and to do your own marketing.” Carlson says that having a personal trainer watch your every move in a weight room can be intimidating for clients—particularly for men—so she prefers to keep things friendly and upbeat.

Tiffany (Yerden ‘01) Carlson Owner/Instructor Body Design Group Fitness


Leader of the Band Jeff Wilson (‘96) Band Director, Rex Putnam HS Milwaukie, Ore.


Private fitness instructor Tiffany (Yerden, ‘01) Carlson demonstrates a yoga pose. Carlson majored in Health and Human Kinetics at Warner Pacific and targeted personal training early on as her career of choice. During her senior year, she had an internship at an athletic club in N.E. Portland that turned into a job after graduation. Carlson later switched to a club in Oregon City after she married grade school teacher Matt Carlson (’00) and moved to Beaver-

“I’m very motivated by the people I meet. When I feel that I help them, I feel successful.” “I keep things professional, but I tend to be more on the side of ‘let’s have a good time while we do this,’” said Carlson. One of Carlson’s favorite clients is an 89-year-old-woman who has decided she’s not too old for strength training. Once, the woman described feeling something hard in her lower back, only to realize it was newly toned muscle. “I’m very motivated by the people I meet,” Carlson said. “When I feel that I help them, I feel successful.”

music program, while also making sure students have fun creating music. Every other year, he takes his symphonic band either to Disneyland or Disney World. “I’m not a trophy chaser,” Wilson said. “I want kids to enjoy things a lot and learn. I treat my band almost like a youth group. It has that feel to it. It’s a very positive environment.” Raised in Lacey, Wash., Wilson played clarinet and bass at Timberline High School, but quit his senior year because he disliked

“I treat my band almost like a youth group. It has that feel to it. It’s a very positive environment.” his band teacher. Thinking he might make a better band teacher someday, Wilson decided to pursue music education. He spent two years at Central Washington University, in Ellensburg, before transferring to Warner Pacific in 1994 to finish his teaching education. Wilson is convinced he had some divine assistance in landing the Putnam job. He had completed his student teaching at Barlow High School, in Gresham, Ore., with renowned band instructor Chuck Bolton

The Experience

Scott Thompson


ired right out of college as the new band director at Rex Putnam High School, in Milwaukie, Ore., Jeff Wilson (’96) faced the kind of first day new teachers dread. He was hired three weeks after the school year had started—on a Friday afternoon, no less—and had only a weekend to prepare for his first solo teaching gig. “Monday morning, I’m in the classroom. The bell rings. All these students start walking in. I opened my mouth to say something and all of a sudden words started coming out. In June, I kind of woke up and wondered, ‘What just happened there?’ That first year was extremely intense, but it was one of the best years.” Wilson, 32, is now in his ninth year at Putnam and is currently the only Warner Pacific graduate to direct a 4A high school band program in Oregon. He oversees three levels of concert bands, as well as a jazz band and a guitar class. He says he works to strike a balance between maintaining a disciplined

Scott Thompson

t’s yoga time at the West Linn Senior Center, in West Linn, Ore. In a long, slender activity room, nearly two-dozen seniors stretch and hold poses under the careful direction of fitness instructor Tiffany (Yerden, ’01) Carlson. “Use a chair for balance if you need to,” Carlson calls as she inspects the seniors working on their yoga mats. Carlson operates her own private training and fitness company called Body Design Group Fitness. She has a mixture of individual clients, and also teaches a number of group classes in the greater Portland area. She especially enjoys working with seniors, who have proven to be some of her most faithful clients. “I feel most successful with the seniors,” said Carlson, 24. “I get such a positive feedback from them that it feels so rewarding to be there. I like things better when I feel I’m making some sort of difference.”

Rex Putnam High School Band director Jeff Wilson (‘96) works to keep a balance between discipline and fun in his music program. (who is now Warner Pacific’s band director) but had little else to demonstrate his potential. “There have been very few times in my life that things like that happened and it’s like God is actually orchestrating the whole thing,” Wilson said. Wilson lives in Gladstone, Ore. with his wife Kelly (Hembree, ’97), an elementary school teacher who works part-time, and their two-year-old son Aaron.

could manage. So the band performed a few songs for Ebal, and later joined him at a prayer vigil that evening. The next day, the guys gathered to pray about their future, knowing that if they landed a record deal, it would mean leaving school for an uncertain future. “At the end of the prayer, we all looked up at each other and we were like, ‘Did you hear that?’” Shrout said. “It was totally God telling us, ‘Go. It’s time. You guys need to be out there. The country is hurting. You need to go now.’”

The New Sound of Christian Rock Ryan Shrout (‘01) and Jon-Micah Sumrall (‘01) Guitarist and lead singer of Christian rock group Kutless


n the world of contemporary Christian music, new bands aren’t supposed to skyrocket as quickly as the rock quintet Kutless. In late 2001, founding members Ryan Shrout (’01), Jon-Micah Sumrall (’01), and James Mead, along with former band members Kyle Mitchell (’01) and Nathan “Stu” Stuart (’01), were a fledgling Warner Pacific jam band. A year later, they had become the top-selling new Christian rock group of 2002. In its short history, the group has landed three top singles on the Christian music charts, has sold 180,000 copies of its selftitled debut album, and 250,000 copies of its 2003 effort Sea of Faces. The group has toured with some of the top bands in Christian music, and even performed at a Billy Graham crusade in Pasadena, Calif. last year before an audience of 95,000. However, despite the new found fame, the band members remain grounded in their belief that they were called to communicate the love of God through their music, not to become rock stars. “We feel so blessed to be where we are, and we want to have a bigger and bigger impact,” said Sumrall.

Roots in worship Kutless started out as a campus worship band at Warner Pacific during the 19992000 school year. Originally called Call Box, the group debuted some original songs at a college preview weekend for visiting high school students in the spring of 2000. They were rough, but well received. “We were terrible, but in the whole scheme of bands just starting out, we did all right,” Shrout said. Hearing the call The band members lived in the same house on campus, and practiced almost every day. Mead joined the group in the summer of 2001 and found a job at a local skateboard shop. In September, Mead was at work when he got to chatting about his band with a customer who turned out to be Seth Ebal, an executive with the Seattlebased record label Tooth & Nail Records. Ebal wanted to hear the band practice and offered to come to campus the next day—September 11, 2001. When the terrorist attacks unfolded the next morning, the band felt it was no day to play. However, Ebal called, saying it was the only time he Summer 2005

©2004 Tooth and Nail Records

Kutless co-founders Jon-Micah Sumrall (‘01) (seated left) and Ryan Shrout (‘01) (2nd from left) have helped make the group one of the top-selling Christian rock bands in the last three years.

Many miles ahead In late 2001, Tooth & Nail signed the band, which the band members had renamed Kutless (in reference to Jesus Christ taking blows on their behalf, leaving them “cut-less”). Kutless finished recording its first album in December, and hit the road in early 2002. Driving themselves in a van and a car, the band members played over 220 gigs that first year. By spring they had management, and by fall they had a bus. In 2003, Sea of Faces received strong reviews, and Kutless continued to tour heavily. Last year, Kutless recorded its third album, Strong Tower, putting its own hard-edged stamp on some original and favorite worship songs. Strong Tower is on pace to become the band’s best-selling recording yet.

“At the end of the prayer, we all looked up at each other and said, ‘Did you hear that?’ It was God telling us, ‘Go. It’s time. You guys need to be out there.’” A new outlook Now in 2005, the band finds itself at another key stage. Stuart and Mitchell are no longer in the group. Mead, Shrout, and Sumrall are married, and Sumrall and his wife, Shannon, gave birth to their first child, Caleb Daniel, in October of 2004. The men of Kutless are no longer the new kids on the block, and family life is changing the dynamics of touring. However, Shrout says Kutless is just getting started. New members Dave Luetkenhoelter (bass) and Jeffrey Gilbert (drums) have helped shape a new sound, and have given the group even greater resolve to create music that speaks to Christian and non-Christian kids alike. “I know that we’ve been able to minister to kids,” Shrout said. “I see this as the beginning of Kutless’s actual ministry. God is amazing.”


Class Notes 60’s Wanda Price (‘67), the 2000 WPC Distinguished Alumni of the Year, has come out of retirement to serve as full time Adjunct Professor and Student Teacher supervisor at Ratliff University in Virginia.

WPC Alumni reminisce under the Arizona sun.

70’s Deana (Tobey, ’72) VanWart is a workforce specialist for the Missouri Division of Workforce Development, in Independence, MO. Her husband, Harry, works for the Office of Homeland Security. They have three children. Carolyn Newsom (’77) is the education director for the Northwest Children’s Theater, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Carolyn has two children and a new granddaughter born in November of last year.

‘80s Jeff Mugford (‘83) has accepted a call to be the senior pastor of Tigard Church of God, in Tigard, Ore. He and his wife Cindy (Hoopengarner, ‘81) will move to Oregon in June. Jeff has been in ministry at Mountain Park Community Church in Phoenix, Ariz. Joel Fritzler (‘86) is the newest member of the Carbondale, Ill. city council. He won election this spring in his first bid for public office. Fritzler works as an Information Specialist in the Office of Research Design and Administration at Southern Illinois University. He ran for Fritzler (‘86) the council seat because he wanted to be a voice for neighborhoods. He lives with his wife, Julie (Murphy, ‘95) Fritzler, who is a social worker in Carbondale.

‘90s Jess (’99) and Laura (Shrout, ’99) Hutchison welcomed first son Isaac Michael Hutchison a month early on March 29, 2005. Isaac weighed 6 lbs. and 7oz., and was 19” long. Proud grandparents include Rev. David (‘75) and Connie (Bruss, ‘77) Shrout.

‘00s The keen instincts of Customs and Border Protection officer Clayton Teel (’00) led to the first major meth trafficking bust at Portland International Airport, last February. According to published reports, Teel noticed a woman pacing as she waited at a luggage carousel. After she had retrieved a large box, Teel approached her,


Glenn “Buzz” (’57) and Shirley (Cutshall, ’57) Miller hosted the 11th annual Pacific Bible/Warner Pacific College potluck luncheon at their home in Mesa, Ariz. on February 21, 2005. Twenty-four alumni and family members attended. Pictured are (back row, L to R) Glenn Miller, Milton Lenz (’59), Leroy Postma, Rev. John Lancaster (’61), Manota (Eastman, ’58) Sylvester, Leonard Sylvester (’58), Rev. Richard Hubacek (’58), Isabel (Esler, ’68) Dyer, Russell Dyer (’59), Marilyn (Hockett, ’54) Harrison, Cliff Harrison, Leta (Moore, ’61) Lewis. (Front row, L to R) Lola (Willard, ‘57) Bixler, Evelyn (Bentley, ‘55) Findley, Herb Lewis (’61), Virginia (Foley, ’56) Postma, Bob Bixler (’57), Betty (Blanchard, ‘55) Lancaster, Jan Barber, Pres. Jay Barber (’64), Albert Bentley (’53), Shirley Miller, and Eva (Moore, ‘58) Hubacek. Paul Findley (’55) snapped the picture. asking her what was inside. Upon investigation, Teel and fellow officers discovered three saddles, portions of which had been filled with approximately $225,000 worth of methamphetamine.

5 1/2 oz. and measured 22 inches. Jon is currently a Public Records Analyst for Background Investigations in West Linn, Ore. Kristen is joyfully caring for their daughter.

Junko Fujii (’01) is currently studying for a Master of Public Administration degree at Portland State University, in Portland, Ore. She also serves as Vice-President for the Portland Junior Chamber of Commerce, a worldwide nonprofit organization with local chapters operated by volunteers. Junko’s goal is to start a nonprofit community center for low-income populations.

Jacob (’03) and Stephanie Porter gave birth to fraternal twin boys on November 19, 2004, at Legacy Emanuel Hospital. Noah Jacob Elijah Goodwin Porter weighed 6 lbs., 9 oz. and was 19 inches long. His brother, Jonas Augustine Elijah Goodwin Porter, weighed 8 lbs., 2.5 oz, and was 20.5 inches long. They join siblings Miracle Moses Elijah Goodwin Porter (6), Neva Shalom Jane Porter (4), and Shadrach Mathetes Elijah Goodwin Porter (2). Jacob works as a claims adjuster in the property loss department at All State Insurance Company in Portland.

Jared (’01) and Danielle (Capps, ’05) Valentine had their second child, Aida Danielle Valentine, on March 14, 2005 at Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital in Clackamas, Ore. Aida weighed in at 7 lbs., 15 oz., and was 20 inches tall. Jared is the Director of Residence Life at Warner Pacific College, and Danielle graduated in May with a double major in Human Development and vocal performance. Proud grandparents include Bart (‘75) and Becky (Quesenberry, ‘76) Valentine. Sarah Martin (’02) is in her second year of a Ph.D. program in neuroscience research at the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Kentucky. She is investigating the inflammatory response that takes place during HIV infection. Kristen (Williams `03) and Jon Van Tuyl (’03) announce the birth of Emma Elizabeth Jane, born September 4, 2004. Emma weighed 5 lbs.

The Experience

Randee Doe (’03) (center, standing) is serving as a short-term missionary in Kobe, Japan. She teaches English at three churches in the Kansai area to a variety of ages, and includes Bible teaching in her curriculum. Kim (Jensen, ’04) McCune recently began work at PacifiCorp in the area of hydro relicensing, specifically for the Lewis River (Wash.) and Bear River (Utah & Idaho) basins.

En Memoriam Howard (’52) Baker Rev. Howard Baker passed away on March 25, 2005 in Walla Walla, Wash. He was 79. A memorial service occurred March 31 at Blue Mountain Community Church. Reverend Ernest LaFont (’42), Rev. Dallas (’66) and Linda (Kuykendall, ’66) Fast, and WPC president Jay Barber (’64) participated in the service. Howard was born in Oilton, Okla. on March 2, 1926. At age sixteen, he moved to California. After leaving the Air Force in 1946, he married Elizabeth “Bettie” Rowden (’49) the following year. He graduated from Pacific Bible College (now Warner Pacific College) in 1952 with a Bachelor of Theology degree. Howard served as the pastor of five congregations on the West Coast and spent the last nineteen years of ministry at the Blue Mountain congregation, where he founded the Noah’s Ark Day School. He served on the Board of Trustees of Warner Pacific College for sixteen years, four years as chairman. He retired in 1988. Howard is survived by his wife Bettie; son John Baker (’68) of Vancouver, Wash.; daughter Joanne (Baker, ’71) Maclean and her husband Rich (‘73) of San Diego, Calif.; daughter Janet (Baker, ’71) VanDonge, of Walla Walla; seven grandchildren; and five great grandchildren. DeVon Helbling Former Warner Pacific music professor DeVon Helbling died April 2, 2005, in Portland, Ore. at the age of 84. Devon was born in Elkhart, Ind., on October 17, 1920. He attended Anderson College, and completed his undergraduate work at Goshen College in 1948. He earned his Master of Arts degree from Hardin-Simmons University in 1950, and his Doctor of Music Education degree from Indiana University, in 1965. DeVon taught at four colleges during his career, including Warner Pacific College. He was married twice, to LeEtta Chesnut, who died in 1992, and Irene Ross (‘64), who passed away in 2004. DeVon is survived by his sons Roger Helbling (’70), of Anderson, Ind. and Dalyn Helbling (’74), of Bastrop, La., and their wives; two sisters, including Delores (Helbling, ‘54) Sheldon; nephews David Helbling (’64) and Fred

Helbling (’79), nieces Ruth (Helbling, ’66) Yerden and Janet (Helbling, ’74) Wilson: two brothers; and four grandchildren. Ralph R. Hutchison (’50) Ralph R. Hutchison (’50) died of leukemia in Corvallis, Ore. on January 13, 2005, at the age of 73. The youngest of three children, Ralph was born on September 27, 1931, in Burns, Ore. His family moved to Cottage Grove, Ore. in 1941, where he stayed through high school. After attending Oregon State College and Pacific Bible College, Ralph began a 35-year grocery career with Safeway. He worked for 27 years as the manager of the Safeway store in Albany, Ore. He retired in 1986, and he and his wife Eloise enjoyed traveling the country in their RV. Ralph is survived by his wife; his three sons, including Brent Hutchison (‘77), and their wives; a sister; seven grandchildren, including pastor Jess Hutchison (’99); and two great-grandchildren. Margaret (Proffitt, ’46) Lafont. Margaret (Proffitt, ’46) Lafont died March 2, 2005 at the age of 91. Born February 4th, 1914, in Oakland, Calif. Margaret moved to Hanford, Calif., where she attended high school and met her husband of 69 years, Frank LaFont. They married on February 14, 1932. The couple came to study at Pacific Bible College (Warner Pacific College) in 1941, accompanied by their two sons, Harold (’52) and Don (’61). In 1946, the family moved to the mission field in Kenya, where Margaret served as the principal of a boarding school. Under her leadership, the school became recognized as one of the premier schools in Kenya, and former Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta (’64-’78) appointed Margaret to Kenya’s National Education Council of Education. In 1974, the LaFonts returned to the United States and joined the staff of the Blue Mountain Community Church in Walla Walla, Wash., where Margaret served as director of Noah’s Ark Day School until 1981. Frank preceded her in death in 2000. Margaret is survived by her sons; sisters Terri Mitchell and Ethel (Profitt, ’46) Dorsey; brother-in-law Ernest LaFont (’44); three grandsons and four granddaughters, twenty great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren.

Summer 2005

2005 Alumni Phone-a-thon tops $41,000

Emily Coombs (‘06) was one of the many students workers who contacted alumni.


any thanks to all of the alumni who participated in the 2005 Alumni phone-a-thon, the most successful to date. As of May 10, 2005, alumni had pledged a total of $26,000 with $15,000 of cash actually received. Coupled with the administration’s $15,000 dollar match, the phone-a-thon reached a record $41,000 in total pledges. Those who have yet to send in their donations have until June 30 to have their gift added to the 2005 Phone-athon totals.

Upcoming Events June 27 - Alumni Reunion

North American Convention of the Church of God, Anderson, Ind. Park Place Church 9:30 p.m. “Celebrating Young Alumni”

August 5 - Torchbearer’s Golf Tournament Mountain View Golf Course 27195 SE Kelso Road Boring, OR $75 entry fee ($25 of which supports scholarships at Warner Pacific) Please call Roberta Petersen at 503-517-1025 for information.


first person

Close encounters of the “I-Thou” kind What a vine maple, my infant son, and Martin Buber taught me about life at its most beautiful. by Matthew Plies (‘94)


ast summer, my wife Sarah and I were eating lunch with our two sons, Kai and Martin. Martin (an infant at the time) was clearly unhappy so I took him outside. We wandered to this beautiful young vine maple and I put Martin’s body right up by it. Martin sat in my arms and looked into that vine maple for ten minutes without a fuss. This, as far as I can know things, was a bonding moment between that tree and Martin. Another Martin—a philosopher named Buber—would call this an I-Thou encounter. Martin Buber was an extraordinary thinker and writer who died six years before I was born. Central to his thought is that there are two ways of being in relationships with others. In an I-It relationship, we use other beings as a means to something. In an I-Thou relationship, we trust, we don’t hide or have ulterior motives. We are open, and totally present. When I was young, my relationships were more in the I-Thou vein than the I-Itbut not for long. Growing up is partly a process of shifting away from the I-Thou. We learn how to manipulate the world, and learn abstractions, categories, and stereotypes. We learn to pigeonhole experiences as being like others, so that we become less present in the here and now. In our adult lives, what once were beings that we related to frequently become things to schedule or to persuade or to avoid or to consume. However, we can re-learn what we once knew. We can partake in those I-Thou relationships from time to time. Some of this

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happens easily, but much requires a “letting go.” This is partially what religious experience is about. (Buber also thought that each I-Thou encounter pointed toward the Eternal Thou). As my spiritual life is enriched, I find confirmation of Buber’s template. And as I look at later influences, I realize it is also foundational. The author Parker Palmer taught me about the self. In A Hidden Wholeness, he writes that we are born with “a seed of selfhood” that contains unique spiritual DNA. He argues that we are encoded with a “birthright knowledge of who we are, why we are here, and how we are related to others.” However, we form identities that aren’t congruent with our true selves. He says we often abandon that which makes us unique. Palmer adds that we “live in a culture that discourages us from paying attention to the soul or true self—and when we fail to pay attention, we end up living soulless lives.” I think the symptom of abandoning this knowledge of our true selves in the roles and identities we play leads to what Thoreau described as “quiet desperation.” Something is dreadfully wrong when desperation is the norm. This state of being, of frequently encountering Thou, or of letting our soul touch the soul of other beings, is the spiritual life. And, like many good things in life, Palmer says it is more a matter of relaxing into the spiritual life than scrambling toward it. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these (Luke 18:16).” My odd translation: “Small, non-anxious presences primed for I-Thou encounters…this is life at its most beautiful.”

The Experience Magazine - Summer 2005  

From courtrooms to concert halls, young alumni like attorney Sonya Fischer (‘88) are making their mark on the world.