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Survivor of 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing Shares Her Story With PUC Community

By Laura Gang on January 16, 2023

The sisters giggled together as they walked down the avenue to church in their Sunday best. Janie had a new purse, and they tossed it back and forth and laughed some more. Even the gray clouds and autumn wind couldn’t dampen their spirit. It was Youth Day at church, and they would be singing up front in the choir.Once they arrived, they slipped into the basement ladies’ lounge to freshen up before the program. Janie, the oldest, reminded Addie Mae and Sarah to get to their Sunday school class on time.Then Denise, Cynthia, and Carole came in and joined their friends. At the wash basin, Denise turned and asked over her shoulder if Addie Mae would tie her dress. The last thing young Sarah saw was her older sister’s hands reaching out for the sash.Then the room exploded.Nearly 60 years later, Sarah Collins Rudolph, the little girl who survived one of the darkest days in Civil Rights history, told her story to Pacific Union College students at a special Community on Thursday, Jan. 12, to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.With her gentle Southern accent, Rudolph told the students about Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1960s. About the atrocious Jim Crow...
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The Ministry of Music: David Bell on Over Three Decades With the Heritage Singers

By Laura Gang on January 13, 2023

David Bell has been a bass member of the Heritage Singers for over three decades. He’s performed countless times with the gospel group. But there’s one most memorable trip.A few years ago, Bell and the Heritage Singers toured the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and - what he said is his “favorite city in the world” - Prague. Local residents hosted the group and their families. “They were just the sweetest people,” Bell recalled, “my wife is still good friends with several of them!”Bell said local residents recounted stories about living under Communism when religious music was illegal. They played the Heritage Singers albums in their basements. Some choir directors would listen to the music and try to transcribe the harmonies and create sheet music. They wanted to sing the songs, but any religious activity was dangerous. “You can tell they really treasure the freedom they have,” Bell said. “Now, a lot of times in the U.S., we can take our freedom for granted, and we complain about all kinds of things that are trivial when we’ve never had to live under that kind of rule.”For Bell, chair of Pacific Union College’s Business Department, that trip showed the power of music as...
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Hands-on Evangelism Class Takes Students to the Streets of San Francisco

By Laura Gang on January 9, 2023

Three theology students from Pacific Union College participated in an evangelism class last fall that allowed them to share their faith and the truth of the gospel with three church congregations and the surrounding community in San Francisco. The hands-on class ultimately resulted in nine baptisms.“The theology program at PUC is especially formulated to help students navigate our rapidly changing West Coast culture in biblically guided ways,” said Chair of the Theology Department Jim Wibberding.Wibberding contacted Pastor Dan Serns, president of Central California Conference, hoping to collaborate with him on an evangelism class to take students “from theory to practice.”Serns had an even bigger vision for the class.Along with area pastors and staff from CCC, Serns “pulled the plans together” and gave the students a truly “dynamic experience,” Wibberding said.For 12 hours a day on eight consecutive Sabbaths in October and November, PUC students and participating church members led out in Sabbath School and worship services at three San Francisco Seventh-day Adventist churches—Philadelphian, Central, and Tabernacle. After lunch each Sabbath, students and local members engaged in community outreach—from literature evangelism to Bible studies. Theology student Luiggi Loconi Cruz said his goal going into the class was to focus on youth...
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An Interview with “Jericho Road” Writer/Producer Lindsay Morton

By Becky St. Clair, Lauren VandenHoven, & Laura Gang on January 5, 2023

In February, Paulin Hall will host the U.S. premiere of “Jericho Road,” a musical written and produced by Lindsay Morton, associate academic dean for PUC. The show was first produced at Avondale University in Australia, and then in Sydney and Perth. As all three were highly successful, Morton suggested it be done at PUC. The rest, as they say, is history. Written in response to “The Last Five Years,” a musical by Jason Robert Brown, “Jericho Road” is a boy-meets-girl, then boy-leaves-girl story. It centers on Leila, a part coincidentally played by PUC student Leila Beltran, and her husband, Jake, played by PUC student (and music major) Tyler Wilensky.“I fell in love with ‘The Last Five Years,’ and found myself wondering how the story would have been different if the couple had been Christian,” Morton explains. So she began pulling together pieces she’d composed over the years that fit the story she felt developing, and composed a few more around them. The driving questions of “Jericho Road” are: What does it mean to be faithful to a spouse who is unfaithful to you? And how can we be faithful to a God who seems absent?“It’s a difficult topic, but one...
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"The Radicals" Brings Into Focus the Faith of the Anabaptists

By Laura Gang on December 27, 2022

The play, produced by Pacific Union College and PUC Prep, highlights a Reformation movement significant to Seventh-day Adventist heritage.“The Radicals” is a stage production about The Reformation—but not the one you’re probably thinking of. Written by Pacific Union College professor Laura Wibberding and produced in collaboration with the college’s History Department and Pacific Union College Preparatory School, the play tells the story of early Anabaptist leaders. Their role in the reformation was arguably more impactful to the heritage of the Seventh-day Adventist Church than even Martin Luther himself.In the early 1500s, two Protestant Christian movements were sweeping across Europe. The Magisterial Reformation, with leaders like Luther in Germany and Ulrich Zwingli in Switzerland, was supported by rulers—civil magistrates—who enforced conformity to the faith.At the same time, the Radical Reformation also opposed the Catholic Church but firmly eschewed state support. The most well-known group was the Anabaptists, who held that Christianity was a personal decision. That conviction was signified by the “believer’s baptism,” contrary to the christening ceremony of infants.The play features a conversation between Menno Simons, a former Catholic priest who became a prominent Anabaptist leader, and a young female character named Rachel. Their conversation frames each of the play’s...
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A New Sense of Identity

By Laura Gang on December 27, 2022

A drive-by shooting altered the life trajectory of two young PUC alumni. Now, Carla and Daniel Monnier are finding purpose amid a new set of challenges.Boy Scout Road is a rural stretch in Apopka, Florida.Groves of orange trees stand in contrast to their neighbors – unruly throngs of trees that push past property lines and creep over the road’s shoulder.Live oaks, tinseled with tufts of Spanish moss spread their wide limbs behind slim-trunked pines. A grizzled palm stands tall even while a coil of kudzu threatens to climb its way to the top.Every once in a while there’s a clearing, where driveways lead to tired single-story ranch houses.Carla Monnier took this road home from work every day.She didn’t live there. It was a shortcut between Orlando’s busy highways and southwest Apopka’s modern and serene neighborhoods where she and her husband Daniel lived.On a Thursday night in mid-October 2018, Carla had finally finished work at the rehab center. Dinner plans with her friend Mollie hadn’t worked out. So she got into her car and began the nearly 20-minute commute home.Shortly before Carla exited the highway to take her shortcut, Mollie called and they began discussing training plans for an upcoming Ironman...
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PUC Alum’s Life of Service: There has always been a place for me in missions

By Laura Gang on December 6, 2022

Mary Johnson’s first international mission trip to Mexico led her to change her major – and marked a turning point in her life. During spring break of her freshman year at Pacific Union College, Mary and the Korean Club partnered with Maranatha Volunteers International to help build a church in Guamúchil, Sinaloa, in Northwestern Mexico. She said she had several “real conversations” with local residents about how wonderful it is to work for God and decided to switch her major from liberal studies to Spanish. Another memory from the trip made an indelible impact. “I will never forget that last night, as we fellowshipped together in the newly built church, a young girl came up to me and said in Spanish, ‘There will always be a place for you in Guamúchil,’” Mary recalls. “While I have yet to return to that little church we built, there has always been a place for me in missions.” Indeed, since that trip nearly two decades ago, Mary has served on almost 70 mission trips locally and worldwide. She first graduated from PUC in 1999 with a degree in Spanish and later earned her master’s degree in education in 2001. After college, she spent...
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Pacific Union College Launches Online MBA Program

By Laura Gang on November 18, 2022

With concentrations in management and healthcare administration, the program is designed for working professionals with busy schedules. Online programs for Master of Business Administration degrees have surged in popularity in recent years and even surpassed campus-based ones. The pandemic — and the remote world it brought about — further underscored the effectiveness of these online MBA programs. Now, Pacific Union College is working to meet the growing demand. This fall, PUC began offering a new online MBA program with a choice of concentration in management or healthcare administration. Scott Perryman, chair of PUC’s Department of Business and director of the new program, said earning an MBA is “valuable business knowledge” for people in many different career fields. “For professionals who aspire to move up in their organizations or are already in leadership, it’s become the table stakes,” he said. “It almost replaces an undergraduate degree as a requirement for management roles.”PUC’s online WASC-approved MBA program is designed with the busy professional in mind. There are multiple start dates, for instance. Perryman described it as a six-quarter progression, meaning a student can begin at the start of any quarter (fall, winter, spring) and complete the program 18-24 months later. The exact...
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PUC Offers St. Helena High Students Groundbreaking Conservation Technology Course

By Laura Gang on November 8, 2022

Pacific Union College has launched a groundbreaking collaboration with St. Helena High School, giving students the opportunity to learn how technology is applied to the environmental challenges they face in their own local communities and beyond – including severe drought and wildfires.The 10-week class will meet in person on PUC’s campus and provides the students with the chance to earn college credit. “It is very cutting-edge and taps into multiple local interests, blending them together in a very modern way,” St. Helena High Principal Benjamin Scinto said. The new partnership with St. Helena High comes as PUC launches a first-of-its-kind conservation technology undergraduate program. Led by Dr. Scott Butterfield, the program prepares students for careers in environmental-based professions – including conservation technology. Students completing the four-year degree program will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Conservation Technology. Butterfield serves as PUC’s Clark Professor of Conservation Technology. A local ecologist, he is the lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy’s land program and strategic restoration strategy in the San Joaquin Valley. Butterfield has more than 20 years of experience in the conservation field, with more than 40 published peer-reviewed articles and reports. The term “conservation technology” is relatively new, but the...
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Pacific Union College Appoints Joy Hirdler Vice President for Financial Administration

By Laura Gang on September 28, 2022

Pacific Union College is pleased to announce Joy Hirdler as its new vice president for financial administration.Hirdler, a PUC alum, has served in various finance roles for over 15 years at Seventh-day Adventist institutions across the nation, including nearly five years at PUC in a position that’s now known as associate vice president for financial administration. Most recently, she worked in financial administration for Union College."Joy is a wonderful choice to join our administration," President Dr. Ralph Trecartin said. "She has a high level of financial experience and is well-acquainted with our PUC community."Just as important, Trecartin said Hirdler has a "great heart for people.” He said her kindness and ability to relate to others make her an excellent addition to the PUC family.Hirdler will serve as PUC’s chief financial officer and lead the finance team and guide its strategic direction. Responsibilities also include overseeing the following offices:AccountingHuman Resources and PayrollEmployee HousingInformation Technology Systems and ServicesStudent Financial ServicesFacilities ManagementAngwin Airport and Flight CenterThe Albion Retreat and Learning Center.Additionally, Hirdler will serve as president of Howell Mountain Enterprises. Hirdler, who will assume her new role on October 30, said she is excited to work with familiar friends and new colleagues as...
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