Extra headerFebruary 2020

Family boasts three generations of "Wedding Bells"

It doesn't take being on the Plainview campus long for new female students to learn about the legend of Wedding Bells University. "Ring by spring or your money back," upperclassmen tease with a smile.

And while many laugh at the expression, the truth is that many students DO find the love of their life in college, and Wayland has seen plenty of these pairings in its 111-year-history. For the Masten family, the legend became even larger when Three generations of Wedding Bells Universitygrandson Jackson Harbison, a December 2018 graduate, asked Shelby Sower, BBA'17, to be his bride, becoming the third generation of the family to marry Wayland sweethearts.

The story unfolds

This multi-generational tale started back in the 1960s, when Plainview native Bill Masten, armed with a new diploma from Wayland College, took a teaching job in the tiny high school in O'Donnell, Texas. One of his senior math students was a pretty young thing named Sarah, who caught his eye.

"When school was out, he came by my house and I assumed he was coming to see my family," laughs Sarah. "But he was coming to see me. We just know that God put him there (in O'Donnell) that year."

The first in her family to go to college, Sarah was already heading to Wayland in the fall of 1965. Bill was heading home for the summer wheat harvest, then was to attend West Texas State as a graduate assistant in the fall. They kept in touch regularly, and he'd drive up to Plainview every Thursday night for a date at the Chicken Inn.

"When he'd take me back to the dorm after our dates, he would kiss me on the steps. He was taller, so I could reach him better standing on a step," Sarah laughs. "The President's wife, Janelle McClung, would see us from her window and often teased me at church."

Bill and Sarah Masten weddingBy February 1966, the pair were engaged; on August 15, they were married. Sarah took a break from her education when the Mastens started their family, welcoming Anna is 1967 and Ellen in 1969. Daughter Carole rounded out the family in 1970.

Through job changes and moves, the family ended up in Shallowater, where Bill worked in Lubbock for Texas Instruments most of his working career. Following in their parents' footsteps, the Masten girls headed to Wayland one after the other, with Anna graduating in 1989, Ellen in 1990 and Carole in 1992. As Carole entered her senior year, Sarah began commuting to Plainview to finish her teaching degree, graduating in 1996 at the age of 49 and still teaches second grade.

The second chapter

"I had seen my mom's slime beanie and things and always wanted to go to Wayland," Carole added. While she spotted her future husband on the first day of freshman orientation, Carole admitted she wasn't exactly smitten at first sight.

"I found out he was a preacher and thought, 'oh no,'" she says. "But he had a great sense of humor and was a safe person to be around I guess."

Carole and Richard Harbison would see each other from time to time around the small Wayland campus, but dating him never occurred to her. During her senior year, she ran for homecoming queen but had to have an escort.

"I didn't think I had time for a relationship… Richard and Carole Harbison weddingI had to find someone who could do that with no expectations of anything else. Richard was the first to pop into my mind; he was such a nice guy (and as a bonus he had a tuxedo from International Choir)," she recalled. "I asked him and he immediately said yes. He then immediately asked me on a date to the movies at the Grenada Twin. I thought, 'oh, no, he's gotten the wrong idea'… and he had. I just kept thinking about him being a preacher. I knew preacher's wives wore polyester suits and played the piano and I couldn't bring myself to do either of those things."

As the second semester started and Carole began student teaching in nearby Olton, she was too busy to pursue dating and admittedly made every excuse to shake off this would-be suitor. Finally, graduation came and she was free… or so she thought.

That summer, a youth camp speaker where Carole was serving as a volunteer leader gave a message that made her regret the past semester's actions. She reached out by phone and when Richard returned the call a few days later, she apologized.

"He jumped on that and was in hot pursuit again," she laughs. "Somehow he found lots of reasons to be back at Wayland for weekend activities that fall. We started dating in November and he came to homecoming from Seminary. By January, it was pretty obvious that I liked this guy, probably even loved him."

By February there was no doubt. A proposal followed in March and the couple was married July 24, 1993. Carole taught for two more years, then the Harbisons started their family and she took some time off, returning later to the classroom in 2011, then going to work for curriculum company Lone Star Learning in 2016.

The other side of the story

Around the same time the Harbisons were at Wayland, campusmates Alan Sower and Monica Woolley were building their own romance. Alan enrolled in 1987, and one of Monica's friends from home introduced her to him shortly after she arrived in 1989. They began hanging around a little more that fall, finding commonality in their shared business major and Phi Beta Lambda involvement. By December 1990, they were engaged; the wedding followed in June 1991. Alan graduated in 1992.

Alan and Monica Sower wedding"I had heard about Wedding Bells University, and it made sense to me that you'd meet your spouse at college, but it seemed people got married younger in our days," says Monica, who finished her degree in 1993 and is in accounting for ARMTech Insurance Services. "I didn't come in search of a husband really."

Their only child, Shelby was raised in the Lubbock area and the family developed an affinity for Texas Tech sports together. Mom Monica just expected she'd head to Tech for college. But she'd graduated from Frenship High School with a big class and wanted to explore her options.

"When we were on the Wayland campus visiting, she asked about class size and that really sold her on Wayland. She decided she wanted something smaller," Monica said. "We were thrilled that she came here, and we wanted it to be her decision."

Third time is the charm

Jackson started his Wayland journey in 2015, though originally the family had planned for him to go straight to mortuary school and continue working in the funeral industry he was already enjoying as a high school student in Shallowater. But a preview weekend visit convinced them all: Wayland was where he belonged for the next few years.

During his orientation weekend, Jackson met upperclassman Shelby Sower at the bowling alley and struck up a friendship. Both were business majors, and since she'd had many of the classes he would be taking, a natural partnership ensued. They began hanging out with her roommate Mackenzie Parks and later the roommate's boyfriend Jordan Sutton joined the group.

Over time a deep friendship blossomed into more, and the two started dating in February 2017.

"We just clicked right off the bat; we're are a lot alike and were raised quite a bit alike. Of course, we had the Wayland legacy connection from the get-go," Jackson said. "You hear about people going to college and finding 'the one,' but I really didn't think about it at the time. It's neat because Wayland is such a legacy in my family already, so it's cool to be able to add to that, not just academically but relationally as well."

He earned a business degree then picked up an Jackson Harbison and Shelby Sowerassociate's degree in mortuary science from Amarillo College in December 2019. In between that, the couple got engaged in October 2019 and will tie the knot on April 25, 2020.

For Shelby, the generational story adds a fun element, though she said she was not holding her breath for romance in college.

"I didn't meet Jackson until my junior year, and by then I had already given up on finding someone. I wasn't going to get my ring by spring," she laughed. "I had hoped it would happen but if it didn't, it wasn't the end of the world. It's cool though to think that my parents went to school with my husband's parents and all the connections we have."

Jackson's grandmother is a little more sentimental about the story. "While our story is unique, to Wayland people, it's not that unusual. I am so thankful for Wayland and how our family grew in so many ways there, " she said. "It's fun to see all these generations of Wayland sweethearts."

"I think it's the neatest thing ever (that he found his love at WBU)," added Carole. "I could tell immediately that Shelby was his girl. It was really evident they had the same heart and the same life goals. To see him have a soulmate that has that heart and loves him, a mom couldn't ask anything more for her baby. It was well worth the tuition."


Wichita Falls grad helping business owners

Greg Atchison's current job may come as a surprise to those who served alongside him at Sheppard Air Force Base all those years ago. But in truth, it probably started germinating there as he served his country as a technical instructor for aircraft mechanics.

Now a resident of St. Louis, Mo., Greg applies his experience in training and education to a different audience as he is chair of the C12 Group Greg Atchison, C12 leaderin that area, a venture he started in March 2017. C12 - which stands for Christ and the 12 disciples - is a program for business owners across all industries that helps them grow their business through peer support and one-on-one coaching, all done in the context of biblical principles.

"So many want to build their business to make money, but we know God has a perspective on business," says Greg. "We don't want to make money at the expense of family. We marry business principles and biblical principles as well to make sure the ladder they are on is on the right wall."

Peer support for owners

For Greg, that means serving as the facilitator for these groups of 12, who meet monthly to dive into a topic that is common to all in business, developing a bond and camaraderie that helps them all grow. One of the best benefits, Greg says, is that participants get feedback from peers that helps them improve some aspect of their business.

Meeting days for the C12 group are full. Greg leads in a devotional to set the tone, then the group spends an hour discussing in depth a key business topic, such as innovation, talent development, leadership burnout, strategic planning, and the like. Then the group discusses related ministry topics for a bit before breaking for lunch.

"In the afternoon we do a deep dive on one of the businesses and they have the chance to share with the rest of the group and get some godly counsel. We look at the economics of the business, the team, the spiritual side of business ownership and using the business for ministry," he said. "Often we have a lot more influence over those people than their pastors do since it's such a small and intimate group."

Added assistance

Aside from the group benefits, the business owners get time with Greg in a one-on-one setting for coaching where he can help them drill down into challenges they may be facing and set a plan to overcome them.

Greg's own business load - C12 operates much like a franchise where Greg is owner and Greg Atchison speakingresponsible for recruiting clients as well as running the groups - currently includes two such groups of 12 owners (no competing businesses are allowed in the same group) and one group of individuals the company calls "key players," not owners but often higher-level leaders in a business whom the owner feels would benefit from a similar experience. They have the same monthly gatherings and peer support but do not get the one-on-one coaching the owners receive.

All of this, says Greg, is highly rewarding.

"The exciting piece is being able to hear about someone's salvation, hearing about a company holding chapel services and leading their employees to Christ," he says. "Our tagline is 'building great businesses for a greater purpose,' and my role is to help owners understand their responsibility to be generous with what God has blessed them with.

"The fact that I get to do what I do and have all those experiences in leadership development and use all of that for the kingdom, I have to pinch myself every day."

The back story

Greg and his wife ended up in St. Louis while on his career track following a 22-year career with the U.S. Air Force. He started his journey with Wayland Baptist University while stationed at Sheppard in Wichita Falls and was able to continue toward his educational goals when he transferred in 1987 to San Antonio, where a new campus had opened pretty recently. He graduated as one of the first from the campus.

The Air Force graciously let the Atchisons remain in San Antonio for several years since Greg's wife's health challenges were easier to treat there at Lackland Air Base. When Greg retired in 1998 from the military, he took his valuable training experience to the Boeing Company, and the family relocated to Seattle for five years where Greg co-led the training operation there.

In 2003, the family relocated with Boeing once more, this time to St. Louis. While there, Greg started a doctoral program in organizational management with a leadership specialization. His research at Boeing led to a position in executive development, where he led training for Boeing leaders from around the world as well as executive coaching.

When Greg had the opportunity to retire in 2016, he began praying about the next steps.

"It was early, but we felt the Lord leading us to do something different. I was asking how I could use all those skills and experience for the kingdom, and that led me to what I do now," Greg said.

Greg said his faith has been lifelong. Raised in church, he came to faith at age 25 and experienced a personal revival in 1994 during the Promise Keepers movement. At that point he realized his faith needed to permeate his entire life, not just his Sunday schedule.

"In Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby talks about spiritual markers. I think of all the skills I learned in the military - from being separated from my family for a year at a time in deployment - and the facilitation skills God has given me to stand in front of the CEOs, leading experiences and executive coaching, In addition to my wife's health challenges, all that has affirmed that we're called to rely on God and see how faithful He is," Greg says. "I know that what I do is a calling, and God gives me all the skills and patience necessary to get through it.

To learn more about C12, visit the website at C12group.com.


Devotional: New year brings good time for introspection

With the coming of the new year, many of us have paused to consider the past year and to contemplate the possibilities of a new year. For many years I've measured my effectiveness as a follower of Jesus by a simple question: "How many people did I lead to faith in Jesus this past year?" For many of us this may be an uncomfortable question, but there is no denying that it brings clarity!

"Why?", you may be asking. To answer your question, microscopelet me quote Jesus and encourage you to apply the "KISS" principle as you think through your responses. (KISS - keep it simple stupid…oops! How about keep it simple student or servant?)

The Great Commandments (Matthew 22:36-40) according to Jesus are… You shall the love the LORD your God…and your shall love your neighbor as yourself.

  • If you keep doing what you did last year, will you love the LORD YOUR GOD more? More deeply?
    • I will stop _____________ so that I may love the Lord my God.
    • I will start _____________ so that I may love the Lord my God.
  • If you keep doing what you did last year, will you love your neighbor/s more? More deeply?
    • I will stop _____________ so that I may love my neighbor as myself.
    • I will start _____________ so that I may love my neighbor as myself.

The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) according to Jesus is… To make disciples, to baptize them, and to teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded.

  • If you keep doing what you did last year, will you make disciples? More disciples? Deeper…more committed disciples?
    • I will stop ___________ so that I can make more and deeper disciples.
    • I will start ___________ so that I can make more and deeper disciples.
  • If you keep doing what you did last year, will you baptize more disciples?
    • I will stop ___________ so that I can baptize more disciples.
    • I will start ___________ so that I can baptize more disciples.
  • If you keep doing what you did last year, will you teach His disciples to obey Him? Better? More consistently?
    • I will stop ___________ so that I can teach His disciples more effectively.
    • I will start ___________ so that I can teach His disciples more effectively.

Good News! You are not alone. I am confident that you can ask your pastor, your Bible study leader, or your fellow Jesus-follower to help you with this. Three generations of my family attended Wayland for the primary purpose of being prepared and equipped to serve Jesus by sharing His Good News! Let's do this!

Tim Pruit earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in theology is 1986 from Wayland and a Master of Divinity degree in 1992 from Southwestern Seminary. He serves as a pastor of the Pinal County Cowboy Church in Arizona and is also associational missionary for the Gila Valley Baptist Association.

From the History Files

This month's historic glimpse was submitted by Don Roberts, who experienced childhood at Wayland while his father pursued his degree in the 1950s. His memories are reflective of many who came to the university as a family, lived in the tiny homettes and called the campus their home too. The first half of his memoir is included this month; the conclusion of his memoir will run in the March issue.

I completed my time at Wayland Baptist College in the summer of 1958. It was my Dad who graduated from Wayland that spring. I graduated from junior high school. But my days of boyhood joy and adventure at Wayland were finished. I was headed to high school in a different town. Suddenly a memorable string of years as a kid living in a homette, and having the entire Wayland campus as my playground, came to an end.

We arrived in Plainview in the summer of 1953. After Homettes in the 1950sWorld War II my dad felt the Call of God on his life to be a preacher. One semester of Greek brought him to a new interpretation of His call. Apparently, God stuttered as He delivered His message to my dad. Rather than p-p-p-p-preach, God called him to t-t-t-t-teach. This was a much more achievable mission.

The four of us, my parents and my younger brother and I, occupied a small house in the middle of a large neighborhood of married and single students. Almost all the houses, called homettes, were made entirely of plywood. The outside wall was also the inside wall. A single homette was about 15-feet by 15-feet. Those were for single students. Families got a bigger house: two single homettes attached to each other. Included in the 450 square feet was a living room, kitchen, a very small bathroom, and two bedrooms.

The homette area seemed huge to me. The houses were placed side by side with a small grassy area (or not so grassy area) between them. The rows faced each other along a narrow concrete sidewalk that stretched from one side of the complex to the other. There were several such rows, just about as close as any neighbor would want. I saw a recent photo of this area, and it's actually a very small space. Obviously, I remember it over the years from a child's perspective. But it was a perfect playground.

In the summer, our play area was the entire housing area. We had many cowboys and Indians adventures, sometimes with brand new gun and holster sets and real caps for our pistols. Someone would call "time out" from time to time to give us time to reload our caps. Eventually we gave up on the caps altogether. Too much trouble and never loud enough. "I shot you!" worked much better. Every house was a fort, or a hideout, or a saloon. Some days we played cops and robbers, but that never lasted. We could never keep "the plot" in mind very long.

When we got thirsty, we drank water from the hoses laid in the yards to drain the water from the evaporative coolers that hung in some of the windows. A shady rest area with an air conditioner was a welcome place to "reload our bullets" or decide to change games.

When we could slip away from the housing area, our playground was enlarged to include the main classroom and administration building, Old Main. This building was sparsely occupied during the summer. Its basement was a snack bar during the school term, and a storage area during the summer. This intriguing area was accessed from the outside through a door that opened to a small landing, that led to a set of double stairs. For some reason, this outside door was never locked. The annual summer challenge of manhood for my buddies and myself was jumping off the landing onto the mattresses stacked below. As our bravado increased, we would take away a layer of mattresses. Then another. Then another. To the best of my knowledge, there were never any serious accidents with this game. There must have been a platoon of guardian angels on duty.

Don Roberts retired in October 2019 after serving 45 years in music ministry across Texas. He is a graduate of Hardin Simmons and Southwestern Seminary. He and wife Carol Ann live in McKinney, Texas. His father, Neal Roberts, earned his degree in 1953 and returned to his hometown of Lamesa, Texas, to teach and later to serve as school principal. He died in 2007.

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