By Joe Stowell on June 26, 2018

Recently I attended the memorial service of Rev. Dr. Clifton Rhodes, Jr., the long-term pastor of Messiah Missionary Baptist Church here in Grand Rapids. The two-and-a-half-hour service began with a moving rendition of the old hymn "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior." The remaining time was filled with hymns of rejoicing and testimonies of the amazing influence that he had through the years of his ministry for Christ and His Kingdom. The depth of Pastor Rhodes' life and character marked him as the dean of urban church pastors and placed him in leadership roles both civically and denominationally. His passion to reach people for Christ and to bring healing and help to his neighborhood was unparalleled.

Whatever the biblical equivalent of pride is, that's how I feel about the fact that Pastor Rhodes was a three-time graduate of Cornerstone. He did his bachelor's work here and then went on to a master's degree from our seminary where he also earned a doctorate. To have played a significant role in his formation as a person and a pastor is a great honor!

And, I should mention that another graduate, Pastor Artie Lindsay, gave the eulogy sermon at the memorial service. His clarity with the text and compelling application was a tribute to his own training here at our Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.

On my way home, I was reminded of how many of our graduates have stories of significant influence in our world for Christ. Some in the ministry, some in missions and many in the marketplace where the testimony of their lives draws attention to the gospel lived out through them.

All of this makes me grateful that God has called me to serve in an enterprise that is busy raising a new generation of cultural influencers for Christ and His Kingdom.

Year In Review 2017-18

Our latest Alumni Journal highlighted the stories of notable alumni such as the Clums, Kevin Cummings (B.A. ’87, M.Div. ’91), Aaron Lovely (B.Mus. ’92), Brad Richards (B.A. ’93), Robyn Afrik (B.S. ’05) and Ron Frelix (M.B.A. ’12). In addition, it showcased highlights from the 2017-18 academic year.

Just Getting Started

The CU class of 2021 officially began their college journey on Sept. 1, 2017. This class of 321 students has an average high school G.P.A. of 3.55 and includes 16 international students from 14 different countries. They will officially join the Alumni Association in May 2021.

Celebration of Scholarship Highlights Student Led-Research

In lieu of traditional undergraduate classes on April 12, Cornerstone hosted its inaugural Celebration of Scholarship, a conference-style event designed to showcase students' academic research. The schedule included 28 student paper presentations, 36 poster sessions and three musical performances. Selected via an application process, student presenters were required to submit a proposal and secure a faculty sponsor for their project.

Science Building Laboratory to Honor Professor Raymond Gates

In April 2018, Cornerstone announced the inclusion of the Raymond Gates "Gator" Laboratory in the new Jack and Mary De Witt Center for Science and Technology. Scheduled to open with the building's completion in spring 2019, the lab will honor the legacy of Professor Gates and his commitment to communicating a Christian perspective on science.

Cornerstone Establishes Partnership with the Ron Blue Institute

On April 17, 2018, Cornerstone announced the establishment of a new Ron Blue Institute Center at Cornerstone University. As home to the only Ron Blue Institute Center in Michigan, Cornerstone aims to give traditional undergraduate, seminary and adult learners financial management principles through the lens of a Christian worldview. Primary funding for the institute's partnership with Cornerstone is provided by Eastbrook Homes.

Talking Points Launches Conference Series on Justice and Unity

In collaboration with CityFest, One West Michigan and the Urban Church Leadership Center, Talking Points' spring conference marked the first of three gatherings in its 2018-19 series entitled "Justice + Unity: Toward the Healing of a Fractured Church." Conference foci intend to highlight both historic and contemporary voices discussing the Black/African-American experience, Hispanic/Latino(a) experience and women in the church.

CU Theatre Presents Two Classic Productions

CU Theatre partnered with stageGR to present the musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" in November 2017. The classic comedy "You Can't Take It With You" was performed in March 2018. Current students were joined both on and off stage by community members, including CU alums Ella (Cooper) Morgan (B.Mus. ’04), Daniel Morgan (B.A. ’06), Bethany (Heddens) Schutter (B.Mus. ’03), Buddy Haskill (B.A. ’05), Ian Grell (B.A. ’13), Khari Neal (B.Mus. ’17), Bram Groat (B.A. ’14), Audrey Moore (B.A. ’14), Mark Stoll (B.A. ’12), Rachel (Steeves) Turner (B.A. ’10), Kristen (Benson) Roberts (B.A. ’95) and Holly Newcomer (B.A. ’08).

Kyle Steigenga's Scoring Record

Cornerstone men's basketball senior Kyle Steigenga surpassed Jared Crandell (B.A. ’96) to become the all-time leading scorer in the history of Cornerstone University. Steigenga also shattered the state of Michigan all-time scoring record for a career. He finished his career with 3,023 points. Steigenga garnered numerous accolades in his illustrious career, most notably becoming the first player in NAIA history to be a four-time All-American.

Categories: Alumni Stories, Campus Life