Homecoming Weekend: Living Through the Generations

by Christy Gazanian '07

On Friday, October 27, several hundred people milled around outside of the Felix Event Center on West Campus prior to entering the 2006 Dinner Rally. Young and old gathered up and down the steps as the voices of the APU Gospel Choir filled the evening air. Families stood near each other, old friends embraced, and a picture of faces painted a collage of generations: Homecoming Weekend had begun.

Though Homecoming Weekend began on Thursday, Dinner Rally offered a gathering place for the stories of the past to meet the stories of the present, in an effort to create stories for the future. This year’s theme, Life is Worship, came to light through the three choirs that performed during the evening, the stories shared by alumni and students, and the conversations that took place at each table.

Distinguished Alumnus of 2006, Paul Jin Kyong Chung '58, D.D.LT.D, exemplified the work that Christ can do through one person by sharing his story and praying a blessing over APU. Over the last 50 years he spent 15 years teaching at Seoul Theological University in South Korea, received a doctoral degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, and served as senior pastor at ShinChon Evangelical Holiness Church. Not only has he preached and impacted the 6,000 members who attend his church every week, but he has shared the Gospel with tens of thousands around the world as well.

The Distinguished Alumni of the Year for 2005, Don ’54 and Pauline Grant ’53, were also present, and provided a wealth of history to the event as individuals who have been dedicated to serving God and APU, not to mention attendance at 56 Dinner Rallies. Don Grant shared his hope for APU students: “Go for your dreams and God will help you as you trust in Him and walk with him.”

Brent Gudgel ’02, one of four alums highlighted at the event, has been a receiver of the hope that Grant expresses. As co-owner of a film production company, Chronicle Project, Gudgel produced a documentary on the AIDS epidemic in Swaziland. He explains, “We try to tell the compelling stories of life that move people to offer compassion and hope.” Though only a few years from graduation, he noted, “When I was a student I never thought I would be doing what I’m doing now.”

Along with old traditions, Homecoming offered new events, including a Mother/Daughter Tea and Father/Son Frisbee Golf Tournament. A more recent tradition established in the past five years is the Bed Races. On Saturday, male, female, and co-ed teams of five gathered in the Adams Parking Lot to compete against one another through an obstacle course that requires a bed on wheels, many cones, and the speed to out-run your opponents. Competitor and senior Tyrone Valdez Fall ’06 said, “It is always good to be around people I know since I am graduating. This might be the last time I’ll be able to hang out with some people.”

Between the Bed Races and the Homecoming Game, Resident Advisor Brooke Pearson ’08 expressed, “I think Homecoming Weekend is the single most exciting weekend of the school year.” This excitement showed in the faces of attendees standing in line to grab In-N-Out before the game, and in the faces painted black in the spirited Blackout section at the football game.

People streamed into the stadium and behind the goal lines, students, parents, and grandparents gathered to support the APU Football team as they played Dixie State College of St. George, Utah. Music filled half-time, and the Homecoming Court made their way to the field to see Jared Lincoln ’07 and Brittany Johnson ’07 crowned King and Queen. The crowd applauded, people cheered, and the game continued. The night went on and APU Cougar Football took the lead to win 38-20.

Whether attending the Football game as a freshman sitting in the crazy Blackout section, or at Dinner Rally as someone who has known the passion of APU for 50 years, Homecoming Weekend allows past, present, and future Cougars to unite, not only for exciting events, but through the living love of Christ that has carried it’s way down through the generations, and will continue to do so in the years to come.