Saturday, March 8, 2014

To My Bryan College Friends and Family

As a Bryan alumni and former Board member, this is my perspective...

I bleed Bryan. From the first day I stepped (1951) on that physically pitiful (except for the Chapel and the view) campus, I loved the place. Christmas break my first year was extended because a defunct boiler needed to be replaced. I hated it..returned early much to the angst of the Dean. Why??? The people. To me Bryan has always been about special people. I’ve been sleeping with one of those special people for almost 56 years and carry a heap  of love received and given, sourced in that beloved bunch. 

Leadership was not perfect, never is, but 63 years  connection with Bryan as a student and then as an involved alumni and Board member does make some lasting impressions, even on us aged ones as it relates to such matters. So allow me a walk down memory lane.  Before you turn me off as an out-of-touch ancient, I am not a “back when I was your age” grandpa.The only indisputable fact about back when I was your age is that I was years younger than I am now. In the Lord Jesus, my best days are yet ahead. 

The dominate trait of Bryan life over these years, to me, was the idea that we were all in this together. I recall an evening meal in the nail studded ceiling of the dining hall. Spiritual food only - Scripture and prayer - our student feeble attempt to ease the financial crunch of the college. Dr. Rudd’s leadership took the college through those very difficult, but to me, unforgettable years with a Godly humility found in few. In it together…most certainly.

Dr, Mercer brought bounce, zip, creativity, a PR ability with names and faces second to none, and that unforgettable moment of SACS accreditation. Indeed an “in it together” effort. His untimely death brought Ken Hanna to walk Bryan through critical financial times. Financial exigency was declared by the Board. Draconian cuts had to be made. Lives were uprooted and we grieved. I recall faculty offering to cut their salaries so a colleague would not be released. Painful, but still undergirded by a sense of “we’re in this together.”

Then the fire…an “in it together” experience of profound impact beyond Bryan.

Don’t misread me. Not all perfect by any means. And many of you may read your particular time at Bryan differently. But I sat in enough Board meetings, witnessing with almost unbelief the powerful commitment on the part of those underpaid faculty, to appreciate the fact God had blessed Bryan with some choice people, in faculty and staff as well as those who give Bryan validity for its existence….all those students who walked the halls of Bryan. Somewhere in these last years “in it all together” has been lost.

Here’s one man’s perspective on today at Bryan.

Every functioning entity is both an organization and an organism.  An organism has life. For Bryan, that must be life born of God or we are a fraud. It is an organization for the effective accomplishment of the purpose of the organism -see the Bryan mission statement. But the organism aspect must drive the organizational factor. Which means people are the most important focus…the only entity God takes to His heaven.  But…whether church, school, mission organization… at some point the organizational element can become the driving force, and that’s where many Christian organism/organizations mess it up. 

A Christian organization/organism must have Godly goals. But the process of reaching those goals must be Godly as well. The clearest indication of the Godliness of the process is  how the organization treats the people involved in reaching those goals.                   
As a retired Board member, as a man who holds Bryan in his heart, and as an alum, these were  and are issues which concern me. They rise or fall on leadership. And so I pray.

In His Grip,