From Our First Century to Our Second
By: Alistair Brown
We had wonderful centennial celebrations. Northern might be the fittest and most vibrant centenarian ever. Many came together on our Lombard campus for two days. We worshipped and gave thanks to God, laughed, reminisced, enjoyed each other’s company, studied the context of 2013 compared to 1913, visited heritage sites, learned in lectures from faculty, ate lots of wonderful food, shared stories and experiences from the past, and pledged ourselves for God’s ongoing mission for Northern. I have organized many very large conferences, church anniversaries, and other institutional gatherings, and have never known such universal appreciation for a special event.
About 250 gathered on Thursday and Friday, September 19th and 20th. They came from Florida, Texas, California, North Carolina, Virginia, Nebraska, Louisiana, and many nearer states. A large number were alumni, though plenty were just friends of Northern. All had a real sense of belonging. These are all people who care deeply about preparing people for leadership in God’s church and for God’s mission.
There are five current and former presidents who are still living, and all participated in a special service of thanksgiving. Our main guest speaker at the centennial dinner was our alumnus Dr. Alan Roxburgh from Vancouver. The following day three faculty gave thought-provoking lectures, other guests went on a heritage coach tour, and we finished with alumni sharing memories at a final reception.
Everyone will have their own memories of these two days. A significant moment for me was visiting West Washington Boulevard in Chicago where Northern had a massive campus which was built up gradually from 1920 until leaving to move to Lombard in 1963. Of Northern’s buildings, only the Howel Chapel remains, and it is now the worship base for an AME church. I’m thrilled witness to the area continues through that church. It is an area of great need. Our next stop was Lawndale where Northern runs courses in partnership with Lawndale Community Church. All the same needs exist there, with bold steps being made in community development by the church.
The old campus site on Washington Boulevard has special memories of life-changing moments for many people. Lawndale, our second campus today, is creating life-changing moments through the whole community by bold and innovative Christian work . (There are several books already about what God is doing in Lawndale and you will find several by looking for Pastor Wayne Gordon’s books on Amazon or similar sites.)
I am proud of what has been done and proud of what is being done. Of course nothing has eternal value unless it is the Lord’s work. I am thankful, therefore, that we had a deep sense of God’s presence throughout our centennial events, including a strong call to the mission of preparing great evangelical leaders for the church of today and tomorrow. The work goes on.
It is so good to be at Northern in its second century!