Top alumni awards surprise recipients at Homecoming
Avondale surprised recipients of its top alumni awards by keeping news of their achievements from them until the beginning of Homecoming (August 24-25).
Career missionaries Alastair and Jillian Macgillivray learned of their naming as Alumnus and Alumna of the Year after registering at the college of higher education on Friday. “[They] will be shocked when they realise Avondale Alumni is recognising their life work,” wrote Alastair’s second cousin Dr John Hammond in the Macgillivray’s citation. “But what else would we expect? The couple have lived lives of self-effacing service, much of it as volunteers in the Pacific islands. . . . Choosing a life of simple trust, with minimal earthly possessions, they have experienced riches in a way that cannot be readily measured, leaving a legacy of skilled Pacific tradesmen, well-constructed churches and Adopt a Clinics that stand strongly against cyclones.”
The recipient of the inaugural Lifetime Achievement award, Dr Gilbert Valentine, missed noticing his citation even after leafing through Homecoming magazine, in which the citation appeared. The award, independent of honour years or Avondale Alumni’s awards, recognises the life work of a student who not only fulfils the Avondale motto, “A Greater Vision of World Needs,” but does so in a way that makes a worldwide impact on the Seventh-day Adventist Church and in the community. “While expressing his vision for Adventist mission, Gilbert has become one of its premier historians,” wrote friend Dr Lyell Heise in Valentine’s citation. “Author of four books, Gilbert reminds us of the power of the past to inform and transform the church into a contemporary expression of its founders’ vision.”
Gilbert prayed for wife Dr Kendra Haloviak Valentine from La Sierra University (Riverside, California, USA) before the Professor of New Testament Studies preached the sermon during the worship service on Saturday. A refuge theme that had pervaded the writing of the Homecoming magazine editorial, the reading of the citations and the presenting of the opening reception devotional also emerged during the sermon.
Earlier during the service, public relations specialist Brock Goodhill received the Young Alumnus of the Year for his passion, professionalism and perspective. The 2012 graduate is a former Senior Publicist and Social Media Manager at Opera Australia.
Seven other alumni, one from each of the honour years, received citations from their classmates. The most poignant: educator Graham Barnett’s from the class of 1968. Wife Jan received the citation on behalf of her late husband, with the capacity Friday evening opening reception audience in Ella Hughes Chapel standing and applauding. Graham’s career and life climaxed on the morning of October 2, 1998, when an errant spark caused a petrol explosion at Pacific Adventist University (Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea), where he served as the then Dean of Education. Graham, critically burnt, was airlifted to Brisbane and placed into a coma from which he never woke. The citation remembers “the well-lived life of . . . a man who never did things by half measure.”
After the presentation, Hammond read from the draft manuscript of a book written by Jan called Life With Wanpela Pukpuk Man. The story and its recitation lightened the mood.
Joining Barnett as citation recipients: former Director of Finance for the NRMA Earle Rogers (1948); retired Adventist minister and administrator Pr Errol Wright (1958); principal Neva Taylor (1978); young adult ministry specialist and faithful creative Pr Tony Knight (1988); midwife Tamara Peach (1998); and Executive Director of the School of Medicine’s Alumni Association at Loma Linda University Calvin Chuang (2008).
Almost 120 alum and their family and friends attended the 1968 honour year reunion—hosts Hammond and 2017 Alumnus of the Year Dr Wilf Pinchin had in the lead up to Homecoming personally called about three quarters of their classmates. Other reunions, notably 1978 hosted by Mike Dye and 2008 hosted by Joshua Moses, also attracted large numbers.
And in a move away from the honour year concept, Calvin Stewart hosted a reunion for students employed by Reg Brinsmead’s Agricultural and Domestic Sprayers between 1957 and the early 1980s and Shauna Ryan a STRONG WOMAN pop-up mini-conference, both on Sunday.
Violinist Jaime Jorge performed the Homecoming concert on Saturday evening, closing the weekend with an engaging performance of well-known hymns.