University Begins New Year with Focus on Prayer

President William M. B. Fleming, Jr. is flanked by students during the unveiling of the theme for the 2019-20 academic year at Tuesday's prayer vigil in the Warren Library.President William M. B. Fleming, Jr. challenged the University’s faculty and staff to lean on the power of prayer in the upcoming academic year.

During a prayer vigil on Tuesday and the traditional Community Day activities on Wednesday, President Fleming unveiled the new theme for the year — Power of Prayer. The theme is based on Matthew 6:9-13, which describes Jesus teaching the disciples to pray the Lord’s Prayer.

Vice President for Admissions Tim Worley, Vice President for Development Vicki Pugh, Provost Dr. Randy Richards and Professor Dr. Terriel Byrd offered prayers on behalf of the University, its leadership and its students during the Tuesday afternoon prayer vigil in the library. The vigil began with singing of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

President Fleming closed with a short message before the unfurling of a banner with the year’s theme.

“We ask the Lord’s richest blessing on this Christ-first University as we fulfill our mission of enlightening minds, enriching souls and extending hands with character, with integrity and with truth,” Fleming said. “As we move from dreaming, we, too, must understand the power of prayer.”

Hundreds of faculty and staff began the Community Day worship service Wednesday by singing the hymn “Be Thou My Vision,” which Campus Pastor Dr. Bernie Cueto followed with a message on prayer.

The disciples could have asked Jesus anything, and their request was “Lord, teach us to pray” Cueto said. Jesus rebuked the disciples when they couldn’t stay awake to pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed during ministerial highs, busy days and the deepest, darkest moment of his life — when he died on the cross.

Prayer is not a public performance, nor is it a rote recitation, Cueto said. It is private devotion, an expression of the personal relationship between Father and child. In a Christian’s relationship with the father is ultimate authority and ultimate love.

“Prayer is not about what you say or how you say it, but who is listening,” he said. “It’s not about the request. It’s about the relationship.”

Registrar Kathy Majzner walks to the front of the DeSantis Family Chapel to receive the Employee of the Year award. Colleagues who nominated her said Majzner leads by example and “demonstrates great Christian character in every way.”President Fleming compared this season of the University to 1969 — the year after its founding, when the work began in earnest. Faithful supporters such as Riley Sims, Christine Finley and Ralph Sullivan, Jr. led others in making sure PBA was a University built in prayer.

“Will your name be etched in that archive of prayer warriors at PBA? I believe it will,” President Fleming challenged the faculty and staff.

To conclude the celebration, 55 employees received awards for their many years of service. Associate Vice President for Human Resources Mona Hicks was recognized for 40 years of service to PBA.

Two employees, Associate Professor of English Beate Rodewald and Director of Human Resources Suzie Lenart, were recognized for 30 years of service. Assistant Professor of Mathematics Donna Fowler and Associate Professor of Chemistry John Grawe celebrated 25 years.

Registrar Kathy Majzner received the 2019 Employee of the Year award for her exceptional service. Majzner was nominated by her peers and chosen by previous Employee of the Year award recipients.

In nominating her, colleagues said she always anticipates problems and comes with solutions and is a “calm, steady presence in their office and around campus.” She is “kind, a good listener and patient.” Colleagues also said Majzner leads by example and “demonstrates great Christian character in every way.”

Photo 1: President William M. B. Fleming, Jr. is flanked by students during the unveiling of the theme for the 2019-20 academic year at Tuesday's prayer vigil in the Warren Library.

Photo 2: Registrar Kathy Majzner walks to the front of the DeSantis Family Chapel to receive the Employee of the Year award. Colleagues who nominated her said Majzner leads by example and “demonstrates great Christian character in every way.”