Archive for the ‘Alumni’ Category

Leadership & Servanthood

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
First Baptist Church Pastor Michael Murphy appreciates the new truck given to him by the congregation in honor of nine years of service to the church and community. Photo: Sarah Acosta, Austin Community Newspapers

First Baptist Church Pastor Michael Murphy appreciates the new truck given to him by the congregation in honor of nine years of service to the church and community. Photo: Sarah Acosta, Austin Community Newspapers

Two graduates of East Texas Baptist University have been honored for their leadership abilities and servanthood to the Kingdom of God.

 First Dale Suel, a 1979 graduate was elected by the messengers of the 44th Annual Meeting of the Baptist Convention of New York (BCNY) as President of the Convention. Suel also serves the Convention as the elected Chairman of the BCNY Executive Board.

Suel has been the pastor of Amherst Baptist Church of Amherst, New York since 2009. Before, he and his wife Kathy moved to New York, he served as pastor of Steep Hollow Baptist Church in Bryan, Texas.

Second, 1984 alum Michael Murphy received a gift from the congregation that he pastors that was a total surprise.  Murphy is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Smithville, Texas and is moving into his 10th year at the church.  The gift of a new 2013 Ford 150 truck was presented to him by the congregation for his many years of faithful ministry.  Murphy told a reporter with the Austin Community Newspapers he was surprised and unworthy of such a gift.

The ETBU family rejoices in the news about Suel and Murphy.

To read the story, “FBC Pastor Truckin’ Into His 10th Year,” by reporter Sarah Acosta, click here.

To learn more about the church Suel pastors in New York, click here.

Interesting Hunting Partner

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013
Danny Pickens holds his falcon named Phoenix in his backyard Aug. 28 in Whitehouse. Pickens is a falconer. He hunts wild game in its natural state and habitat by using a trained bird of prey. Phoenix is captive bred, a gyr/peregrine hybrid. Photo by Sarah A. Miller

Danny Pickens holds his falcon named Phoenix in his backyard Aug. 28 in Whitehouse. Pickens is a falconer. He hunts wild game in its natural state and habitat by using a trained bird of prey. Phoenix is captive bred, a gyr/peregrine hybrid. Photo by Sarah A. Miller

Who is your hunting partner? Is it an old college friend? Maybe it is someone in your church?  Dr. Danny Pickens, a 1984 graduate of East Texas Baptist University, has a very unique hunting partner. His name is Phoenix and Phoenix does not hunt with a gun or bow.  Phoenix is a falcon in which Pickens has been training and hunting with for 13 years.

Pickens currently serves as the Director of Missions for the Smith Baptist Association.  He became licensed as falconer in 1987. Recently, the Tyler Morning Telegraph featured Pickens and Phoenix in a story. The feature piece written by Coshandra Dillard was also published in the Longview News Journal.   Pickens said in the story, “Falcons have been scientifically clocked at over 225 mph in a dive.” 

Phoenix and Pickens do more than just hunt together. The longtime minister of the Gospel uses Phoenix sometimes in churches as a teaching tool.  Back in the summer, Pickens did a falconry demonstration at Lake Tyler Baptist Church for Vacation Bible School.

To read more about this interesting hunting partner that Pickens hunts with click here.

One of the Best In the NCAA

Monday, September 16th, 2013

swaner top nine

What an experience for the ETBU family back in 2010 when the Lady Tigers won the NCAA Division III National Softball Championship in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. One of the players on the national championship team was freshman catcher Lya Swaner from Wylie, Texas. Lya was behind the plate every game for the Tigers that year. In her four years of  playing softball at ETBU, it was hard not to find a game that she was not behind the plate.

 Fast forward to May 2013, Spring Commencement in Baker Auditorium of the Ornelas Spiritual Life Center, Lya walks across the stage to graduate with honors with a double major in Biology and Chemistry. She is not only an All-American National Champion softball player, but a very bright, smart young lady.

 If you recall back on August 21, Tiger Pride reported that Lya had been named as one of the Top 30 Women in the NCAA.  The NCAA has announced the Top Nine Finalist for the Woman of the Year Award and Lya is one of the top nine. The nine finalists were selected in recognition of their accomplishments in academics, athletics, community service and leadership. 

 Here is the release from the NCAA about one of the best student/athletes to ever walk the ETBU campus:

 Lya was a campus leader at East Texas Baptist University, where she was a three-year member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and president in her senior year. She also held a work-study job on campus while volunteering for the Dallas Fire Department, Habitat for Humanity and Special Olympics.

 Double-majoring in biology and chemistry and graduating with honors, Lya earned multiple academic scholarships, was inducted into the National Honor Society and made the Dean’s List each semester on campus, and was voted a Capital One Academic All-American. She was also recognized with the American Southwest Conference Scholar-Medal of Honor, which is awarded to one graduating male and female student-athlete at each member university for most outstanding academic, athletic and leadership records and awarded the Distinguished Scholar-Athlete award given to one American Southwest Conference softball player.

 The two-year team captain and four-year starter led the East Texas Baptist University softball team to three NCAA tournament appearances in four years, including winning the NCAA National Championship in 2010. She also won two American Southwest Conference Tournament championships and was named the tournament MVP in 2013. She was given the Top Tiger Award, which recognizes the top overall female athlete at East Texas Baptist.

 The NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced on October 20th during a ceremony in Indianapolis.  The nine finalists were selected from more than 450 nominees.

 Congratulations Lya!  Your ETBU family is cheering for you to be named the NCAA Top Woman of the Year.

Youth Minister Now Known as Dr. Dolittle?

Monday, August 26th, 2013
Crossroads Baptist Church youth minister Jeff Stapleton (in orange jacket with cap) stands with a group  while on a mission trip to Huyacaundo Arma, Peru. Standing next to Stapleton (brown jacket) is ETBU graduate David Rice, pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church and current ETBU Board of Trustee member.

Crossroads Baptist Church youth minister Jeff Stapleton (in orange jacket with cap) stands with a group while on a mission trip to Huyacaundo Arma, Peru. Standing next to Stapleton (brown jacket) is ETBU graduate David Rice, pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church and current ETBU Board of Trustee member.

On a recent Wednesday night, ETBU alum and youth minister Jeff Stapleton, did something that has led some of his friends to call him Dr. Dolittle or the Dog Whisperer.   Stapleton was at home after leading the youth of Crossroads Baptist Church when his neighbor knocked on his door.

The neighbor’s dog was in distress after choking on food.  Stapleton, who is also pursuing his graduate degree in Religion at ETBU, sprang into action. He performed CPR on Tigger, a five-year old Chihuahua. Tigger responded to Stapleton’s actions and is doing fine.

Way to go Stapleton by helping your neighbor in a time of need. The heroic act gained the attention of Marshall News Messenger reporter Austin King. Read the complete story that appeared in the Marshall News Messenger by clicking here.

2013 Senior Class Gift

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
Class of 2013 graduate Brad Mashburn stands with President Dub Oliver under the new archway marking the entrance to the University.  Photo: Ryan Perry

Class of 2013 graduate Brad Mashburn stands with President Dub Oliver under the new archway marking the entrance to the University. Photo: Ryan Perry

The ETBU graduating class of 2013 has given back to its alma mater a gift that will be seen by many in the years to come. The gift is an archway located at the main entrance to the campus. The archway spells out East Texas Baptist University in Tiger gold and is trimmed in navy blue with the seals of the University displayed.

            “I wanted my class to give something back because I wanted us to have pride in our alma mater when we come back to visit,” said Brad Mashburn, who served as Student Government Association president for the 2012-2013 academic year and graduated this past May.

Read the full story by clicking here.

Lya Swaner Top 30 Finalist for NCAA Woman of the Year

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Swaner Top 30 Finalist

A student-athlete must typically balance the roles of being a full-time student and a full-time athlete.   ETBU graduate and former softball player Lya Swaner balanced her roles very well and has been recognized by the NCAA.  Swaner is on an elite list as she has been named as a Top 30 finalist for NCAA Woman of the Year.

Swaner, who began her career in 2010 when the Tigers won the NCAA Division III national championship, was a four year starter at catcher for head coach Janae Shirley.  This past May, she graduated with honors as a double major in chemistry and biology. On softball road trips playing in NCAA Tournaments or American Southwest Conference games and tournaments, she would not only pack her softball gear but her chemistry and biology text books as well.  On many road trips, she could be found in the lobby studying or as the team bus traveled down the road, the books would be opened as well.

The 2013 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced at an annual ceremony in Indianapolis on October 20.

A huge “Tiger Clap” for this outstanding student-athlete and graduate.  Click here for more on Swaner’s nomination as NCAA Woman of the Year. 

Simple Philosophy Helps First Coushatta’s Growth

Friday, August 9th, 2013
Dr. Nathan Rogers, pastor of First Baptist Church, Coushatta, La. Photo courtesy of Brian Blackwell.

Dr. Nathan Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church, Coushatta, La. Photo courtesy of Brian Blackwell.

What a blessing to hear about an ETBU graduate making a difference in the Kingdom of God.  Nathan Davis graduated in 2002. Just this past May, he became Dr. Davis as he received his Doctor of Ministry in Expository Preaching from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Nathan is currently serving as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Coushatta, Louisiana. Since 2010, the congregation of 175 has seen a 45 percent increase in Sunday morning attendance.  In the same time period, the church has baptized 22.

His wife, Melanie (Latiolais) graduated from ETBU in 2000.  Melanie is a stay at home mom with their children, Reagan and McKinley.

The Louisiana Baptist Message printed a story recently featuring what God is doing at First Baptist Coushatta.  Read the story by Brian Blackwell by clicking here.

Alumnus Pastors Church Recognized for Creativity in Missions

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

baptist mission graphic

The Texas Baptist Missions Foundation (TBMF) honored First Baptist Church of Universal City (FBCUC) with Innovator Award for Creativity in Missions. The pastor of FBCUC is East Texas Baptist University alumnus David Lindow.  The award was given to FBCUC during the TBMF Missions Awards Luncheon held during the recent Texas Baptist Family Gathering held in San Antonio.

            “To be quite honest, we were shocked. We are not trying to be innovated but obedient to the call,” Lindow said. “As our people develop passions concerning different missions we empower them to do them.  Currently, we have 26 missions ministries occurring with members championing the causes.  Most of the vibrant mission ministries were the brain child of the membership, not the staff.  That’s humbling but exciting.”        The Innovator Award honors an individual or organization that has provided a model for ministry that others can adopt. The program for the award luncheon described FBCUC this way, “The church not only provides a blueprint for building missions, but infuses the ‘actual construction’ with the personality and the intent of Christ. This church is committed to ‘Loving up, Loving in, and Loving out’- encouraging all members to express God’s love in their community, state, nation and world.”     

Lindow is not the only ETBU graduate on the ministerial staff of FBCUC.  He serves with fellow Tigers Bryan Cash and Charles Fannin. “Serving with two other ETBU graduates has been a great joy.  Being able to reflect back on former professors and classmates has been a joy,” reflected Lindow.

“One of those ETBU graduates happens to be my father-in-law (Charles Fannin), who now serves as our Senior Adult minister.  What a joy to have a godly father-in-law who is also a partner in ministry.  The other is our executive pastor.  I couldn’t lead this congregation without the expertise of Bryan Cash.  His attention to detail and impeccable people skills complement my gifts perfectly.” 

Lindow graduated from ETBU in 1984, Cash in 1985 and Fannin in 1959.

            FBCUC ministers to the community through their Needs and Seeds Ministry (household donations for the needy), New Found Freedom Ministry (outreach to the incarcerated at Giddings State School), Palisades Park Fellowship (multi-housing complex weekly worship), Women’s Shelter Bible Study, English as a Second Language classes, Spanish Ministry Sunday School class, medical and dental mission trips to the border, Disaster Relief Team, and other mission opportunities.

            Lindow has fond memories of his time at ETBU.  “The fondest memory I have is meeting my beautiful wife Lisa.  God connected me to my life and ministry partner while at ETBU.”

“Second to that would be the impact of my religion professors Dr. Don Potts and Dr. Franklin Atkinson. These two men had a profound impact upon my ministry development.  I learned more about pastoral care under Dr. Potts than I did at seminary. Dr. Atkinson taught me the incredible importance of attitude in ministry by his perpetual upbeat spirit. I’ll never forget the day that Dr. Atkinson sent someone to get me out of bed to attend Greek class because he thought I was over in my absentees. He was determined not to let me flunk. What a professor,” shared Lindow. 

The Texas Baptist Family Gathering was a meeting like never before as the African American Fellowship of Texas, Texas Fellowship of Cowboy Churches, Vietnamese Baptist Fellowship of Texas, Lao Baptist Fellowship, Chinese Baptist Fellowship and Hispanic Baptist Convention held their respective annual meetings in conjunction with the Baptist General Convention of Texas Annual Meeting.

Recent nursing grads making a difference

Monday, August 5th, 2013
Courtesy Photo From left: Hilary Moody, Ben Behnke, Megan Folmar, Amanda Flinn, Wimberly Melton. The five RNs and ETBU Alumni are trauma nurses at Memorial Hermann, Texas Medical Center in Houston.

Courtesy Photo
From left: Hilary Moody, Ben Behnke, Megan Folmar, Amanda Flinn, Wimberly Melton. The five RNs and ETBU Alumni are trauma nurses at Memorial Hermann, Texas Medical Center in Houston.

Five recent nursing graduates are using the skills they learned at ETBU in Level 1 Trauma positions to treat people in critical need at Memorial Hermann, Texas Medical Center.

Registered nurses Ben Behnke (class of 2013), Amanda Flinn (2012), Megan Folmar (2012) and Hilary Moody (2013) work in the Silver Trauma Acute Care unit, while Wimberly Melton (2010) works in the Shock Trauma ICU at the Houston hospital.

The group of five recently wrote a letter to ETBU faculty and administration thanking them for the training and education they received while at ETBU and how they are now “spreading compassion with competence and loving what they do.”

Memorial Hermann, Texas Medical Center is the only hospital in Houston with a Silver Trauma Acute Care unit, which is where four of the five alumni work in Level 1 Trauma positions. The staff at the unit cares for people who are 55 and older and experience trauma and who are in need of close observation. The trauma often includes falls, abuse, neglect and vehicle collisions.

Alumna Wimberly Melton said she completely believes ETBU molded her in to the nurse she is today. Melton works in Shock Trauma ICU, which cares for the sickest of the sick and most critically injured.

“I come in contact with people in the most critical time in their life and provide support for their families,” Melton said.

The ETBU connection among the nurses formed bonds – some new and some strengthened – as they joined the hospital to begin their nursing careers.

“At ETBU, Amanda, Megan and I were all good friends and spent time together frequently,” Melton said. “It’s so special that we are all together again in Houston and can keep growing our relationship. Amanda and Megan were friends with Ben and Hilary while at school, but I really did not get to know them until recently because I graduated before they started nursing school. Hilary and Ben just recently moved to Houston, and we have all met up and been able to spend time together. I see a great future and great friendships forming as time continues. ETBU is a common bond we all share, and it will always be a part of who we are.”

The alumni are working in critical positions under some of the most challenging conditions for registered nurses, and they said they felt their education at ETBU was a key part of their success.

“Nursing is taking care of others but it’s how you do it that makes you either a good nurse or an exceptional nurse,” Melton said. “Christ has called us to spread his word and love others — what better way to do these two things than to be there for people when they are at their most vulnerable state. The ETBU nursing faculty is absolutely wonderful in their style of teaching; it’s different. They pray with us before every test, come to every clinical day, answer countless emails/texts messages and give us every chance to succeed. My nursing style was shaped by my teaching and training because I was taught with a Christian foundation.”

Playing it Forward

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Ken Chinn and his daughter, Tara.

Ken Chinn and his daughter, Tara.

Ken Chinn’s love for music and playing the guitar has led him to create an organization that places guitars into the hands of future musicians. Through his involvement as a board member of the non-profit group who supports the Music City Texas Theater in Linden, he has created a program called “Playing it Forward.”

Chinn, graduated from East Texas Baptist University in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts in Ministry Careers. Today, he is an associate Vice President-Investment Officer for Chinn Wealth Management of Wells Fargo Advisors with offices located in Longview, Texas.

Through corporate sponsorships and individual donations, guitars are being strummed by young people all ready in Atlanta, Texarkana, Linden, Longview, Spring Hill, and Jefferson.

Just recently, the Chinn Guitar Project presented 11 guitars to the Musical Therapy Program at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. Clark Mundt, of Mundt Music, in Longview, donated 10 of the 11 guitars.

Chinn, who was accompanied by his daughter Tara, teamed up with 15 year-old award winning guitarist/vocalist Matthew Davidson of Shreveport, La., during his performance at the Seacrest Studios at Children’s Medical Center, to give way the guitars. The Ryan Seacrest Foundation has built broadcast media centers within four pediatric hospitals to provide both entertainment and a creative outlet to patients.

Read more about Playing it Forward by clicking here or here as well.

Watch Matthew Davidson’s performance at the Seacrest Studios at Children Medical Center by clicking here.