Faculty role brought Anderson back home
Dr. Jeff Anderson never set out to teach at Wayland, but God’s plan took him down that road anyway. A native of Colorado, he was interested in attending a Baptist college due to the influence of his pastor, Clifton Igo. When the recruiter offered a small scholarship, he went with Wayland.
Arriving in Plainview in 1975, Jeff studied religious education, feeling led to do ministry. He participated in SCOPE, a Wayland organization that sent teams of students to do preaching revivals around the area. While Jeff preached, one of his teammates, B.J., led fellowships at the churches they visited. The two hit it off and were soon married. They graduated in 1979, she with a biology degree that eventually led to a career in medical technology.
The pair headed for California to pursue a seminary degree, with Anderson following his “bug” for Old Testament studies he had picked up from a Wayland faculty mentor. He earned the Master of Divinity degree in 1982 and headed into the pastorate, first in Laramie, Wyo., before he moved to Nashville to pursue the doctorate at Vanderbilt in Hebrew Bible.
“I was still thinking about missions at a foreign seminary but was happy in the pastorate. I really enjoyed that. We considered teaching in public schools that were closer, but it wasn’t the right fit,” he said. “We had been talking with the (International Mission Board) about going to work with a seminary in Prague they were wanting to start, then they pulled the plug.”
Change of venue
About that time, the Andersons’ church hosted a guest speaker who the BSU director at the University of Alaska, and he spoke about the great need for workers in the remote state.
“I asked him if there were Christian universities in Alaska that could use a Bible professor. He said, ‘There’s this little school in West Texas that has a branch in Alaska,’ and he was talking about Wayland,” laughs Anderson, who had not realized that his alma mater had expanded past Plainview. “I made a call to the director at the time, Harvey Angel, who was getting ready to retire as I was graduating. He called his boss (Dr. Bill Hardage) and the rest is history.”
Anderson came to Anchorage first as the assistant director to Harvey for six months then took over as director, a role he kept in addition to some teaching. Anderson opted to return to the classroom full-time in 2007. As a professor of religion, he teaches mostly the Old Testament courses as well as theology and has one class each term online with the graduate program.
Coming full circle
“I had never thought about coming back to teach at Wayland, but when I found out about this opportunity in Alaska I just thought it was a great one,” he says. “We always talk about the opportunities that Wayland has provided us. For such a small school, we have such a wide range, from going to Kenya and teaching at another school to sending our kids there. It has had a big impact on our lives, not just professionally but personally.”
The Andersons have two sons who attended Wayland. Bryan, BBA’05, works for Edward Jones, and Matt, BM’10, teaches school in Anchorage.
Additional stories about alumni who returned to teach at Wayland are featured in the Summer 2018 traditional student issue of We are Wayland magazine, mailing in mid-July.
Devotional: Suffering and the Goodness of God
"He which testifieth these things saith, 'Surely I come quickly.' Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." ~ Revelation 22:20
It seems that the number one topic on the mind of most Christians is the "second coming" of our blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It would be exciting if it were to happen today, but we must focus on the here and now.
There is a group of pastors from our association that get together often for breakfast, lunch or coffee. Also in our group is a full-time evangelist. The other day when we got together our evangelist friend asked this question: "What is the one thing the church needs today more than anything else?" Each one of us had a different answer, ranging from: Revival. Repentance. Obedience. Discipleship. Giving. Outreach. Faithfulness. Certainly the church needs all these things. But the evangelist said, "There is one thing that we need more than that, and it will encompass all of your answers. We need a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit." Wow! Isn't that the truth?
Dr. Bishop, Dr. Howard, Dr. Kirkpatrick and Dr. Kent would be proud to know that we remember a lot of the things they taught us all those many years ago. For me, that was 41 years ago. I was always intrigued with the "Great Awakenings," and if I remember correctly, the last or the "Second Great Awakening" was 1800-1840. A lot of stuff has happened since then.
Wouldn't it be great if we had another "Great Awakening" before Jesus returns? I believe it is possible, and I am praying to that end. I would like to encourage you to do the same. In order for that to happen, we are going to have to quit playing our silly religious wars that are going on in many churches today. We MUST get back to preaching the gospel of Christ, seeking to lead lost sinners to Christ. Just like Jesus, our message needs to be: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Rick Burton is a 1977 graduate of Wayland. He is a longtime Baptist minister and currently serves as pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Aberdeen, Miss. He and wife Gail have a daughter, Liz Burton Garza, a 2005 WBU graduate, and a son, Jim.
From the History Files
When Dr. Elmer Atwood took over the helm as president of Wayland in May 1919, he inherited a post-war, growing campus. A graduate of Southern Seminary, he felt called to foreign missions, but his health did not make that possible. Instead, he became a preacher and came to Plainview from a leadership position at the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.
Despite ongoing financial struggles, the school moved forward with campus improvements. In November of 1919, Wayland planned to install a heating plant that would heat both the administration building and Matador Hall through a tunnel dug between the buildings, and the school was also making plans to build a new dormitory. Donors provided for silverware for the dining hall and a new restroom in the administration building as the school reached 150 students.
Under Atwood's leadership, the school grew academically, with the theatre groups taking their productions on the road and the Volunteer Mission Band ramped up activity at area churches. The school started a newspaper and re-started publication of the Traveler yearbook that had taken a hiatus since 1916. At the end of 1921, a meeting of teachers in Dallas declared Wayland to be “the best school of its kind and class in Texas. The college was rated as A-plus among junior colleges of the state, the highest rating given to any school.”
The first Alumni Association was formed, and Wayland's sports teams were excelling. Enrollment reached 226, with 30 ministerial students who began building small houses near the campus for their families. In November of 1923, Atwood resigned to accept a pastorate at Quanah. As a parting gift, the Atwoods donated a $500 chemistry desk large enough to accommodate 16 students.
Meet your Alumni Board
When Jeremy Ellison left the Wayland campus in December 2014 with a new diploma in tow, he thought the notion of his Wayland yearbook's title "You're Gonna Miss This" was a bit presumptuous. But since that day, he's realized the amazing truth of that phrase.
"We all found different paths to Wayland -- maybe a scholarship, sport or program, or simply the fact that it was cost effective -- but what we found was so much more... we found a family," Jeremy says. "We have since moved on and 'begun' our lives, but that family value and the morals that were instilled upon us still remain and we don't have to give that up."
On the contrary, Jeremy said he still calls on his faculty mentors at Wayland for advice in his current role as a graphic design teacher and theatre director at Brackett High School in Texas. There, he enjoys being an encouragement to the next generation and help them develop into successful adults. He relishes his memories of his college years, and even has an aspiration to return someday to the WBU staff, which prompted his interest in the Alumni Board.
"I still get excited when I talk about my Wayland experience with others; it is a school that inspired me to be so much more than I imagined for myself. If I had to summarize it to one thing, it would be family," he reiterated. "Wayland is so much more than a school; it is a community of like-minded peers that are always striving for whatever the next step to excellence may be. They do this with such grace and dedication, it can't be considered anything less than a family."
"Continue on that Pioneer Pride and let the Wayland experience bleed into everything you do, so that the legacy and mission of WBU will spread so much further than that special cow-scented town," he says.
Alumni help needed to welcome new freshmen
The annual Koinonia freshman orientation session kicks off on Friday, August 17, and alumni who live near the Plainview campus are invited to be part of connecting with new students. On Saturday, August 18, students will participate in an annual tradition called Initiation of the Flame, in which they will be passed the "torch" of the Wayland tradition from alumni.
We are asking any and all alumni who can join us for that event to come make a great showing and meet our new freshmen. Any connections they can make with our alumni just build the bonds of the Wayland family and solidify their loyalty to their new school. Afterward, the Alumni Association hosts a mixer with snacks for the new students, which is another great chance to meet them and build connections.
Before the event, alumni will have a chance to visit with students in K groups (smaller groups led by current upperclassmen) and share some of their favorite WBU memories. We need volunteers to come do this as well! If you are interested in one or both of these opportunities, please email Teresa.Young@wbu.edu to get more details.