Newbold College Hosts Alumni Reunion

"Do you remember?" was the oft-asked question for 115 Newbold College alumni who traveled from as far as Australia, Alaska and California to visit with friends and reacquaint themselves with the British institution that had made such an impact on their lives.

It all began quietly with vespers in Moor Close Chapel on Friday, Aug. 17. Before, during and after vespers and Sabbath morning services there were sidelong glances at faces and furtive looks at name badges as Newbold College alumni and staff from 1970–85 struggled to recognize faces. The atmosphere mounted throughout Sabbath to a banquet with a riot of reminiscences on Saturday night. The weekend came gently down towards Earth on Sunday as alumni shared brunch and left for the four corners of the globe from which they had come just for this weekend.

The Friday night vespers speakers, Harry Leonard and Mike Pearson, used teachers' stories — gospel teaching stories and their own — to focus on the importance of our asking good questions and why we are asking them. "Be prepared," they said, "to examine your motives for questioning and then to be disturbed, shocked even, by the answers." Once the questions are answered — and many cannot be — "go and live the answer," they said. "An unlived answer is no answer at all."

The honored guests for the weekend were Jan and Kari Paulsen, whose time at Newbold, when Jan was a theology lecturer and later principal, coincided with the student years of many alumni present. He went on to become the Adventist world church president until 2010.

Paulsen preached twice on Sabbath morning, talking about the right of people young and old to ask questions. "You don't have to park your intelligence outside before you enter the church," he said. He recognized that people's freedom to respond to the invitation of Christ and ask questions means that many Newbold graduates "park Jesus somewhere along their life's journey." But that is not the end. "God's most important gift to us and ours to each other is the gift of a second chance," he concluded. The full sermon is available online at http://vimeo.com/47873353.

On Sabbath afternoon, alumni gathered for a cream tea in sunlit Moor Close gardens, leading up to the evening banquet in Salisbury Hall. The live-streamed program was hosted by Victor Hulbert, British Union Conference communication and media director. The program included testimonies to Newbold's power to change lives, email and video messages from absent contemporaries, pictures, and reminiscences, all interspersed with updates on Newbold today.

Friends called from the U.S. and Australia to hoots of recognition from those in the hall, and a variety of allegations and counter allegations were made about responsibility for various student pranks in the 1970s and 1980s. Erik Somme described the maneuverings of the "ox" in Moor Close, and Bryan Webster knew the details of how the bucket of water meant for a fellow student fell instead on Leonard.

"It was so good to see all these former Newboldians after so many years," said Lois Mark Hofer, typifying the response of many. "Thank you everybody for the good fellowship, the talks, the smiles. ... It was an unforgettable weekend."

This long-awaited Newbold reunion was voluntarily organized by Henrik Jorgensen, student life director and 1982 graduate. He and his army of student and alumni helpers were left in no doubt as to the gratitude of the participants for what the reunion and their time at Newbold had done for them.

Taste more of the flavor of Newbold and the weekend on the Newbold College Facebook page as well as the special alumni page.

Reunions always end with calls for more. Anyone who wants to be involved in organizing an alumni weekend should email alumni@newbold.ac.uk.

October 01, 2012 / North Pacific Union
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