Celebrating 40 Years of Ministry

My wife, Siggie, and I had the pleasure of serving as co-chairs for the New College Berkeley 40th Anniversary celebration. Thanks to the many people who helped make this event such a success!

Photographs from the evening are here. A slideshow of NCB’s history is here

I’ve talked to several people who attended and they were without exception impressed with the gala event. The venue at Scott’s on Jack London Square was delightful, the table settings were gorgeous and the staff was attentive and efficient. People loved the food, and the way they served over 220 people all at once is beyond me. Attendees said they were excited to be part of this celebration and pleased to see people from many different periods in NCB’s history.

I served as the master of ceremonies and rang a huge dinner bell to get people to their seats. Dr. Riess Potterveld, President of the Graduate Theological Union, gave a beautiful invocation. While folks were eating their salads, the MC introduced a game where people were asked to name important events from NCB’s founding year of 1977. Winners received copies of Mark’s or Susan’s most recent books; signed copies (I know, because I signed them myself). Remember Elvis died, Jimmy Carter was inaugurated (and pardoned draft dodgers), and the Raiders won the Super Bowl? Not only that, but the first Chuck-E-Cheese restaurant opened in San Jose!

During dinner, Mary Lins, worship director at First Pres Berkeley, offered a magnificent song about God’s faithfulness. Our Lord has certainly been faithful to New College these forty years. NCB Board Chair Clay Radke had a warm greeting from the Trustees and flowers for our Executive Director. Next up was another game, this time naming events with the number “40” in the Bible. The audience came up with some great answers, not just about Noah’s flood, Moses’ wanderings, Jonah’s warning, and Jesus’ temptation, but even Elijah at Mt. Horeb (1 Ki 19:8). After a couple jokes, the crack AV staff showed clips from our NCB video.

Next, Susan Phillips gave an insightful update on the ministry of New College, with many great examples and an illustration of a campfire with the light of Jesus in the fire and NCB students and staff in a circle. She also showed video congrats from our co-founders, David Gill (in Europe celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary, saying “50 trumps 40”) and Earl Palmer. The videos got tremendous applause.

Susan introduced our main speaker, Dr. Mark Labberton, President of Fuller Theological Seminary. Mark has been a friend of New College since he and his family arrived in Berkeley. He shared some delightful memories of the early days, including a right-on impersonation of Earl the Pearl. He talked about how some people make Christianity seem “small” and yet the call to follow Jesus should be an ever-expanding adventure. His message certainly resonated with me.

Student Janice Kamikawa shared about her journey and how various New College courses were integral in her spiritual formation. Then a great friend of New College, Dave Stewart, gave the pledge challenge and the attendees graciously donated over $45K for this ministry. Many thanks!

The evening closed with additional music from Mary Lins and then a superb evening benediction from Laurel Gasque. It was wonderful to see Laurel, who was one of our earliest professors and wife of our first president, Dr. W. Ward Gasque.

One of the attendees said, “It was the most fun fundraiser I’ve ever been to!” We are so grateful for the many, many people who support New College Berkeley.

Ed Aust took some great photos throughout the evening. These are available here. Feel free to explore and download any photos that you’d like. Steve has also made the slide show available here with background music by John Tesh. Come visit and relive moments from our 40 years of ministry in the name of Jesus Christ!