Extra newsletter headerFebruary 2019

Alums helping strengthen marriages with retreats

Sherman and Tammy Aten first made music together as members of Spirit of America on the Wayland campus. Their duet - "Never Gonna Let You Go" by Sergio Mendes - might have started before the Atens were wed, but it gets reprised every so often as the couple encourages others to stay strong.

The couple has spent most of their marriage in an itinerant music ministry around the world and hosting marriage conferences aimed at helping couples Tammy and Sherman Aten at retreatstrengthen their bond. The Atens' Three2One Marriage Retreats are focused on the biblical marriage relationship of the husband, wife and God, with the name referring both to Ecclesiastes verse (4:12) "a cord of three strands is not easily broken" and to their anniversary on the 31st of August.

Originally, the marriage retreats were a side gig they worked in around their busy schedule of revivals at numerous churches. They had done speaking at Lifeway's Fall Festival of Marriage events previously, then in the mid-1990s their board of directors suggested the Atens host their own events for couples.

"The last few years, churches are having less revivals and there is more of a desperate need for help with families and marriages," says Sherman, EX'85. "Now we host conferences all over the U.S. and this year we'll be in Portugal, Luxembourg, Spain, Ukraine and Mexico so far. It's really growing."

A growing need

Sherman says he believes the growth is due to many young couples who don't have the foundation of biblical marriage to model and who are juggling so many other challenges in today's society, making it even more work to keep their marriages healthy and strong. Their schedule of conferences - both timing and location - are set primarily by request of churches who want the service for their members or their entire community in some cases.

Tammy notes that the breakout classes on topics like parenting, conflict resolution and financial issues are popular for conference attendees, often including engaged couples that want to get a jump on tips for making their marriages strong.

"Our passion these last few years is for these millennials, and (the material) is so foreign to them in a culture where folks, today, just live together," says Tammy, a 1985 music graduate. "It's fun to watch their faces and see them learn things for the first time, things from the Bible and otherwise."

Pastors and wives in Ukraine at Three2One retreat

A different experience

Their home church in Granbury, Acton Baptist, hosts a conference on Valentine's Day weekend, and the Atens note that all ages and backgrounds of couples are in attendance at many of their events. Even couples married many decades benefit from the material as a refresher (or as new information to them!) and are encouragement for newly-married men and women. Several things set their events apart from others.

"The difference in our retreats is that it's not only just about information and classes. We have a staff of about six couples that help us teach," says Sherman. "The retreat is designed for couples to 'get away' to have time with each other. That doesn't usually happen on a regular basis these days, so we focus on that.

"We try to have a date night offered so they have to plan something with their spouse; we offer men's and women's breakout times, a couples' communion closing ceremony and a vow renewal. We try to make it a broad experience and not just listen to teaching."

Atens and FBC Seminole staffSherman said many churches will keep them over on Sundays and have the retreat material bleed into the morning service. He said in most cases, that involves bringing the church staff and their wives onto the stage and they share one-liners of advice on seven main topics.

Tammy notes that generational blessings or curses play into marriage success often, and that is addressed in one of the retreat breakouts. Couples create a family tree, with each person noting things their families modeled well or poorly. They are then encouraged to keep the positive aspects and leave the others behind.

Words of wisdom

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, the Atens shared some nuggets of advice for Wayland alumni couples regardless of how many years married or their backgrounds.

"Two things really made people think about it being a sacred thing, even though in our culture it is not given the respect it deserves. This idea of 'marriage' started with God; it was His idea to begin with!" notes Sherman. "First, your marriage is your second greatest testimony under your personal testimony, to quote our late friend and keynote speaker Jon Randles. It speaks loudly, and everyone is watching that. Second, your marriage is a legacy. Someday you will be someone's ancestor; what will the generation have known about your marriage?"

For more information, see the Atens' website at www.a10s.org/3-to-1 or their Facebook page.

Devotional: God has prepared great things for us

I Corinthians 2.v.9: " No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him". Also verses in the Old Covenant that translate similar verses are Isaiah 64, verse 4, and 65, verse 17.

These verses are so important to each of our lives to recall regularly and share with each other. I would like to share with you about some of the things the Heavenly father has brought about in my life, my husband's, and now a very large family.

I came to Wayland Baptist College in Plainview, Rainbow in fieldTexas, in 1951 from my home in Borger, Texas. Dr. Bill Marshall was the president then, and he had a small plane that he used to recruit students to come there. Often he took a student to go with him.

The first day of classes for me was upstairs in Gates Hall, and as I came down the steps, a very tall student walked near the steps and stood in front of me on the landing; he held out a picture of me in his hand. I was startled and asked where had gotten the picture. He explained his trip with Dr. Bill Marshall to Borger; a friend of mine had given him the picture and told him I was coming to college there.

Edward S. graduated at the end of the year, and Uncle Sam wanted him during the Korean Conflict. And Ed wanted me to go with him ASAP! So that summer Dr. Bill flew to Borger and married us in First Baptist Church.

Never in our greatest imaginations could we dreamed of, thought of all the things the Creator of the Universe has done for us and our large family!

LaVaye Billings earned her bachelor's degree at Wayland in 1959 and celebrated her 85th birthday in 2018. She is an active member of the First Baptist Church of Lampasas, Texas. She and husband Edward, who died in June 2013, have four children and a passel of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

High schoolers needed for Kaleo experience

Wayland's KALEO program is now accepting nominations for high schoolers who are interested in participating in a special program designed to help students discern God's call on their lives. KALEO focuses on the TRANSFORMATIONAL aspects of the call of God for Christian leadership in the lives of junior and senior Allison Kirk at Kaleo 2018high school students. Implementation of the youth theology institute involves a two-stage process. It features a month-long immersion experience made up of three immersion spheres and three thresholds. After the one-month immersion experience, participants continue with a yearlong mentoring component.

The program is covered in part by a grant by the Lilly Foundation, with student participants raising the remainder of the cost from church friends and family as support for their journey.

"Adolescents are in a crucial stage of developing identity through an interaction with the world around them. A student's ecology and life experiences foster space to explore metaphysical questions: Where are they, who are they, what are the problems, what are the solutions, what is my purpose?" says program coordinators. "KALEO is an intentional effort to cultivate learning environments conducive for practical learning and formation of identity, critical biblical inquiry, and preparation for Christian service."

The deadline to register is March 18. For more information, visit the KALEO website here.

From the History Files

Hardly anyone who attended Wayland on the Plainview campus doesn't know the storied history between the women's basketball team. The Flying Queens have been a mainstay on campus since the program started in the 1940s, one of the first colleges to offer scholarships to women for athletics.

Starting early on, the Queens made a name for themselves by recruiting top-notch talent, most of whom ironically came from smaller towns in a radius near Plainview where the women's game was gaining ground. Though from humble beginnings, many of these young ladies became All Americans and helped the Queens bring home trophies year after year.

One of those trophies came in 1959, with Coach Harley Redin at the coaching helm and team sponsors Wilda and Claude Hutcherson always nearby. That was 60 years ago this spring, and this year marks milestones for several other titles for the Queens. Their 1974 title celebrates 45 years, and 35 years have passed since their 1983 national championship win.

The Queens are once again nominees for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, with hopes that this third year will be the charm the team needs to receive national recognition. A social media campaign sponsored by the Flying Queens Foundation is underway currently, aimed at spreading the renown farther and wider. You can help by liking the Queens Foundation page on Facebook and sharing the various posts using the hashtag #InducttheFlyingQueens. An announcement will be made in April about the voting outcome.

Alums find love 67 years after dating in college

Wayland's nickname of Wedding Bells University rang true as 2018 drew to a close. Ironically, it came more than 60 years after the two alumni left campus.

Cortland Savage, BA'54, and Peggy Messenger Fenn, Cortland and Peggy SavageEX'52, married in December at her home in Roswell, N.M., after reconnecting a few years back and rekindling a romance the two started as Wayland students.

Cortland and Peggy first met in the summer of 1951 in her hometown of Dimmitt, Texas. Cortland was part of a recruiting team from the International Choir visiting Peggy's church, and he asked to meet the pretty young lady. They got to spend some time together, then wrote each other all summer long while he was serving in Alaska. When school started back in the fall of 1951, Cortland was back and Peggy was a new freshman. The pair started dating officially and were an item.

Separate lives

By 1952, however, Peggy wasn't feeling excited about a serious relationship in college, and the pair eventually broke up but remained friends. The next year, she transferred to another school and Cortland stayed to finish his degree at Wayland.

"By 1953, we had 'turned the page,'" says Cortland, 86, who has kept up with classmates from the 1950s for decades. After graduation, he served two years in the U.S. Army, then completed a seminary degree before joining a church staff in Houston. He married and had two sons, raising his family in Beaumont.

Cortland's first marriage ended after 17 years and he moved to Orange County, Texas, where he worked in adult probation and served as a bivocational music minister for 35 years. He married Jan in 1982, and she died in December of 2016 in Arlington.

Meanwhile, Peggy was living a similar life in New Mexico. She married Joe Fenn in 1953 and the couple had two sons. They established a home in Artesia and started a successful grocery business. Joe died in 1995 and Peggy remained a widow, not really interested in dating, she says.

Reconnecting years later

"I never in my life ever thought I would remarry. (Cortland) came along and changed everything," said Peggy, now 85.

An ardent fan of keeping in touch, Cortland said he first dropped a birthday card in the mail to Peggy in 2017, much like he had done with many classmates over the years. The card forwarded to Peggy's new home in Roswell, much to her surprise.

"Shortly after my birthday in August, I got a birthday card addressed to Peggy Joan Messenger Fenn, and I knew it had to be from someone who really knew me. When I saw whose name was in the corner, I just couldn't believe it," she recalled. "He was my first real sweetheart, and I wasn't sure if I should make contact. I prayed about it for two weeks, then I felt like God was saying for me to contact him. I called Cortland, and we talked for about two hours."

The next few months were a repeat. Cortland sent a Thanksgiving card, and Peggy called him to say thank you and visit. He mailed a Christmas card, she called to catch up. When a Valentine's Day card showed up, she was honestly pleased to receive it. She knew there was more behind the card than the simple greeting.

"He sent another letter and we started corresponding every few weeks. He kept mentioning how far Roswell was from Fort Worth and was trying to figure out how to come see me," she said. Her son picked Cortland up and delivered him to Roswell in his private plane and they finally had some time face-to-face to catch up.

Making it official

"We had seven days together and after about two days in, it was like we had picked up where we left off. He wasn't a stranger to me, and I felt comfortable with him," says Peggy with a smile. "I had butterflies in my stomach, and I thought surely I wasn't in love with him at 85. But I had to admit I was. We professed our love to each other and then he had to come home."

The next time Cortland visited Peggy in Roswell, he asked her to be his wife. She said yes, and the two planned a simple wedding at what would soon be their shared home in Roswell. Their happily ever after started Dec. 27.

Cortland and Peggy agree wholeheartedly on one thing: God was behind their reignited love story.

"We know that the good Lord was in it all the way," Peggy says. "He brought us together after all those years."

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