Closed for business
Replacing toilets, painting, weeding, cleaning, pulling blackberry plants - virtually no project was off limits for more than 1,300 students and employees who participated in the university’s annual Serve Day in September. For the eighth straight year, the Newberg campus closed for a day to serve the nonprofit agencies, churches, retirement homes, and civic organizations of Yamhill, Washington, Multnomah, and Clackamas counties.
"It is not a day for 'business as usual,' but a day that challenges each of us to give back to our communities," says Brad Lau, vice president of student life. "It creates an ethos of service. This is consistent with our Christ-centered mission and the example of Jesus himself."
Teams traveled into Portland to assist the Oregon Zoo, the Shriner’s Hospital for Children, the Union Gospel Mission, and the Raphael House, among others. In Newberg, crews visited Friendsview Retirement Community, and the city’s public library, fire department, and public works department. Teams also served surrounding communities, helping out at Tigard’s Luke-Dorf residential services for the mentally ill, Sherwood’s Cat Adoption Team headquarters, and McMinnville’s Habitat for Humanity branch, among other agencies.
Gymnasium benefactor dies
James Miller, namesake along with wife Lila of the university’s Miller Gymnasium, died August 8 at the age of 86. Miller served on the George Fox Board of Trustees from 1974 to 1986 and held honorary trustee status since. The couple made the lead gift to fund the construction of the gymnasium, built in 1977.
Over more than three decades, the couple has given millions to help fund the construction of the Edward Stevens Center, the current Hoover Academic Building remodel, and several endowed scholarships including the Miller Leadership Award for freshman who have demonstrated exceptional character through co-curricular activities, student government participation, or service in the church or community.
A balcony in the Stevens Center bears their name. The James and Lila Miller Gymnasium includes three basketball courts and seating for 2,500.
Miller was president of Cascadia Lumber Co. and later became a partner in Willamette Pacific Land Co.
The Millers’ first connection to George Fox came through their son, Paul, a 1969 graduate of George Fox. Their daughterin- law, Judy, is also an alumna and serves on the board of trustees.
The art of worship
One day last March, Mark Benjamin opened his e-mail to find messages from three people encouraging him to look at a job opening at George Fox. Benjamin did - and became the university’s director of discipleship and worship arts.
Besides helping with chapel planning, Benjamin says he is here to encourage creativity in the worship services and to help students express their gifts in ways that help other students connect with God. He wants "to be a pastor of sorts to these artists." He also notes that "like any community, we have a tremendous amount of brokenness; I see my job as coming alongside students to help them grow from brokenness into a wholeness in Christ."
Benjamin oversees the small groups program and has initiated "honesty groups" for those struggling with issues of sexuality, body image, or eating disorders.
Originally from Canada, Benjamin received a master’s degree in Christian leadership from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. He worked in the seminary’s Office of Community Life the last two years.
To Benjamin, getting paid for spending time with college students is a privilege. Much of his ministry flows out of relationships, he says. "Some of the greatest work, movements, and visions are often birthed in friendship."
Macy goes Hollywood
The women who have lived on the third floor of the Macy Residence Hall have had their share of visitors over the years.
But none was as unlikely as Sean Penn, the controversial Oscar-winning actor and director. Penn and a crew of about 100 descended upon the residence hall in October to shoot a short scene for the upcoming movie Into the Wild. Based on the bestseller by Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild is a story about a young man who abandons civilization to live - and ultimately starve - in the Alaskan wilderness. Penn is directing the movie, which stars Emile Hirsch. A portion of the film is being shot in Oregon, and a location scout identified Macy Residence Hall and its large attic as an ideal location to replicate an Emory University dorm, where the main character attended college. Several George Fox cinema students viewed the filming, and two were cast as extras. The movie is scheduled for a 2007 release.