Alumni wowed at CIU Homecoming 2019
By Ireland Kost
CIU Student Writer
Remembering the days when CIU was Columbia Bible College in downtown Columbia, to wandering on the current 400-acre campus shining with a new business center, bustling dining hall, and an expanding list of academic programs, CIU alumni were impressed with a heartwarming weekend at Homecoming 2019. From campus tours, catered events, stirring music, sports competitions, and catching up with dear friends, the event was a fantastic time of fellowship and festivities.
This year, CIU honored Alumni of the Year Doug ('67) and Alleene ('68) Kracht. The couple spoke in the Homecoming Chapel, reflecting on their years of learning at CIU and their years of ministry in Jamaica, Cuba and Spain.
During their Chapel presentation, a recording of Doug preaching his senior chapel message played. "Your voice was so young," laughed his loving wife. The two of them met at CIU through the Ambassador Choir. "Doug has been one of the best gifts I've ever received from CIU," said Alleene.
Doug expressed the same feelings toward his spouse. "In my three-year experience at CIU, it was so profound that when I considered marriage, I felt that I needed to marry somebody who had shared the same Bible college experience as myself."
Closing the event, the CIU Ambassador Choir, now led by Dr. Bryce Thompson, performed "Make a Way." Students and alumni clapped along, shouted encouragement, and cheered wildly at the energizing performance. Before the clapping could wane, however, it thundered up again in fresh applause as CIU's President, Dr. Mark Smith, made a surprise appearance. Just days earlier, Smith had major surgery and was not expected at Homecoming this year. Assisted by a cane and escorted by the chief of CIU Security, Smith said it had been a dream of his to hear the new CIU Ambassador Choir perform for the first time.
Filling in for Smith at the Homecoming President’s Banquet was Executive Vice President Dr. Rick Christman who told alumni that CIU’s expanding online program options are growing rapidly.
“Online schooling effectively teaches and trains,” Christman said. “It meets students where they are and allows them [to be flexible] in the space and schedule [to complete their degree].
Alumnus Jim Pitcher from the Class of ’67 understands the need to expand academic options including online learning to impact the nations with the message of Christ.
“To have an open door [for ministry you have to] have an expertise in getting in the doors,” Pitcher said. “The university offers more today than before. They are utilizing new technology and applying it.”
Meanwhile, in another musical event, alumni and current students enjoyed more melodies with "Music Through the Ages." Cola Collective, CIU's worship band, led the crowd in a session of worship. The CIU Ambassador Choir took the stage next with choir alumni being invited to sing with them. One of the songs they performed "O Lord, By Your Death" was composed by CIU Music Program Director Dr. Rod Lewis.
After the show, students and alumni enjoyed a dazzling fireworks display over the campus before walking to the Rossi Student Center for fall-flavored treats and live, bluegrass music.
Saturday morning events started with a prayer time, followed soon afterward by CIU's first "Global Networking Event" hosted by the Fellowship of Christian Professionals (FCP).
"My team is so thankful to have been able to facilitate this event in partnership with the Alumni Association,” said junior George Huff, president of the FCP. “Often you see in other universities alumni and students being divided and never interacting. Well, the opposite is true of CIU. I personally witnessed our current students and alumni connect with each other through this event like old friends."
Four alumni from the Class of 1949 made it to Homecoming to celebrate their 70th class reunion. Among them was Sarah Midyett of Columbia, who after years of Bible teaching, writing and ministering, said she still makes her way over to CIU for any event she hears about.
The sentiments of alumni from across the ages were summed up in the closing remarks from Alumni of the Year Doug and Alleene Kracht:
"So thank you CIU, for being such a big part of our lives. Thank you, CIU, and all glory to God.”
Enjoy this video review of Homecoming 2019 produced by Ben Rutkowski.
CIU Student Writer Naomi Balk contributed to this article.
Columbia International University consistently ranks among the Top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report. Excitement is growing on campus with increased enrollment and new academic programs such as the Doctor of Ministerial Leadership. Request information on enrollment at CIU and Columbia Biblical Seminary or call (800) 777-2227, ext. 5024.