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Students honor donors with song and testimony

The many donations received by John Brown University sets JBU apart, especially the spirit in which they are given. For the last decade, the JBU advancement team has put on a scholarship dinner the Friday of homecoming to celebrate this spirit of generosity and gratitude.

April Moreton, the director of development at JBU, said the scholarship dinner is her favorite event of the school year.

“This is a stewardship event. It is an opportunity for us to thank our donors, particularly the scholarships: endowed, funded and the JBU scholarship fund. This brings together some of our students scholarship recipients with their donors,” Moreton said.

“They get to sit together at the table, interact and the donors love to hear stories about the students. It’s a mutually encouraging time.”

Last Friday, the Advancement department hosted the eleventh annual scholarship dinner in the new Simmons Great Hall. Jim Krall, vice president of advancement, noted that donors made the construction of the Great Hall possible.

Advancement takes great care every year to showcase the impact donors have had on those who attend. Students provided all of the music for the event with senior Jenna Frank setting a backdrop of piano, and Seth Long leading some of the cast from the upcoming musical Brigadoon in a number from the show.

Morgan Male, Jacob Russell, Maggie Hardy, Lynn Christensen and Patton Conroy all shared personal stories of how costs almost kept them from attending JBU, but donors made attendance possible.

Russell made a point of wanting to pass on what he has received.

“Back at home, we sing hymns, and one of them goes, Because I have been given much, I too must give. The fact that people have poured into me, why would I not want to pour into other people?” Russell said.

“The fact that they have blessed me with this, makes me want to become the sharpest tool I can for God, but also, I want them to know they used their money wisely and that their blessing wasn’t spoiled.”

Each student expressed deep gratitude for donors and their gifts and a desire to honor such generosity through a dedication to school and life. All speakers shared their stories with grace and gratitude for donors’ generosity.

“This is the last time I’m going to speak at this thing,” President Chip Pollard joked to close the evening after the five talks. “I’m going to let the students do it all by themselves.”

“I almost want to say amen to all of that and be done. I have one of the best jobs in the world because I get to hang out with those kinds of students. They are really wonderful people who are deeply trying to follow Christ in so many ways,” said Pollard.

Pollard acknowledged how big of an impact donors have, whether in helping students attend or in providing the resources, like buildings and facilities, necessary so that faculty could fulfill their callings.

He thanked the donors for places like the Simmons Great Hall.

“We can sit together and give honor to Christ in a time that feels almost as holy as what we could do in the Cathedral,” Pollard said.

To end his speech, Pollard did something more akin to a worship service than a scholarship dinner.

“And I know it’s not quite a church service, but I’d like to stand and sing the doxology,” he said and asked the assistant director of financial aid, David Burney, to lead those gathered in song.