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Highest Ranked Military Alumnus from Cornerstone Honored as Alumnus of the Year

News June 7, 2024

On January 20, 2024, in Washington, D.C., Chaplain Jack J. Stumme (BRE ’91, M.Div. ’94) became the highest ranked military officer among all graduates of Cornerstone University. That day, Chaplain Stumme was promoted to the rank of brigadier general, to serve as the 27th deputy chief of chaplains in the U.S. Army, and his duties expanded to include the care and leadership of all the members of the Army Chaplain Corps who minister to our nation’s soldiers and their families.

In recognition of the promotion, his outstanding service to his country and his influence in Christian ministry, Stumme was awarded the 2024 Cornerstone Alumnus of the Year Award. He was presented the honor at Cornerstone’s 82nd Commencement ceremony held on May 4.

“Chaplain Stumme leads with character, confidence and wisdom as a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ,” commented Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño, president of Cornerstone. “As he lives into his ministry calling to guide and shepherd soldiers in this latest appointment, Chaplain Stumme continues to build a legacy as an influential minister of the transformational story of the gospel.”

A native of Cedar Falls, Iowa, Chaplain Stumme holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Education from Cornerstone and a Master of Divinity from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, recently renamed as Cornerstone Theological Seminary. His military education includes the Chaplain Officer Advanced Course, where he was a distinguished honor graduate; Command and Service Staff School; the National War College; and much more. Chaplain Stumme also graduated from the U.S. Army Airborne School, completing the Special Operations Army Jumpmaster Course.

Since a young age, Chaplain Stumme has felt drawn to military service, specifically the U.S. Army military branch. He sensed a call to ministry late in high school but never lost sight of his desire to serve his country. Attending a denominational conference as a teenager, he met a military chaplain who first introduced him to the career pathway that became his vocation.

As newlyweds and in preparation for the ordination and chaplaincy processes, Chaplain Stumme and his wife, Cindy, arrived in Grand Rapids for Jack to finish the remaining three semesters of his undergraduate degree at Cornerstone while concurrently starting classes at the seminary. Dr. E.D. Ellison, a former member of the Cornerstone University Board of Trustees and retired chaplain, had urged the Stummes to consider Cornerstone for ministry training, and their decision resulted in an extensive support network that has proved meaningful throughout each stage of their lives.

“The quality of the instruction has been key,” Stumme reflected when considering how Cornerstone faculty prepared him to think critically from the perspective of a Christian worldview. “Godly professors taught with a desire for us to seek not merely a comfortable answer, but to discover God’s truth through Biblical thinking. When there were hard questions or difficult topics, they did not give pat answers or shy away from discussions. They were willing to walk with me in discovering God’s answers.”

Prior to serving as deputy chief of chaplains, Chaplain Stumme completed active duty deployments in the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. He is the recipient of numerous military decorations and honors.

“Seminary graduates have gone on to serve as ministers of various kinds and a number have served as chaplains in the military and other institutions,” reflected Dr. David Kennedy, emeritus professor of Old Testament at Cornerstone Theological Seminary and a former academic advisor to Chaplain Stumme. “Jack has always worked hard to be the best chaplain that he could be, for the LORD and for his soldiers and families and civilians. He has risen to a rank in military service higher than any of our other alumni. He has never stopped learning or serving. He well deserves this honor.”

In addition to joining graduates at the May 4 Commencement, the Stummes were recognized during the May 3 Honors Convocation of the Cornerstone Theological Seminary, where Jack addressed the 2024 CTS graduates and their families.

To watch the presentation of the 2024 Alumnus of the Year Award and celebrate the Class of 2024, visit the Commencement webpage for a recording of the 2024 Commencement ceremony and other event resources. Alumni, staff, faculty, and friends of Cornerstone are also invited to nominate candidates for the Alumnus of the Year Award by completing the online nomination form.

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