PRESENTED BY BRITE ADVANCEMENT The Rev. Dr. Paxton Jones
The Rev. Dr. Paxton Jones became Regional Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kansas on May 1, 2007. He once described himself as a TexaKan, a native Texan who’d adopted Kansas as his home. Born and raised in Texas, he earned Bachelor of Science in Education (1972), Master of Divinity (1975) and Doctor of Ministry (1983) degrees from Texas Christian University and Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth and also married a native Texan, Janie, in 1972.
Ordained in 1975, he served as an associate minister in Lubbock, Texas, for two years prior to moving to Kansas in 1977. During the 21 years prior to being called to the regional church staff in 1998, he served the regional and general church in a variety of leadership capacities while serving pastorates in Topeka and Salina. For the 8½ years between 1998 and 2007, he served as Deputy Regional Minister and Treasurer as well as the Central and High Plains Districts Minister.
He currently serves on the General Commission on Ministry for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and on the board of Tennyson Center for Children at Colorado Christian Home in Denver.
Dr. Jones and his wife reside in Topeka. They are blessed to have two grown daughters and a granddaughter living nearby in Lawrence.
Brite Divinity School is grateful to Paxton for his generous financial contributions to the advancement of the divinity school for over 30 years.
THE BEING BRITE AWARD
PRESENTED BY BRITE ADVANCEMENT First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Beaumont, Texas
For more than 100 years First Christian Church has been part of the Beaumont community. In 1994 the church was presented a Texas Historical Marker in recognition of a century of being a religious congregation.
First Christian Church had its beginnings in 1894 when a small band of Christians invited a Dallas evangelist to the town for a meeting. The congregation first met in Temperance Hall, Fireman's Hall, the City Auditorium and a donated building until the first church building was dedicated in 1905. Over the years the structure was remodeled until finally in 1957 the congregation realized the need for relocation. In 1962 the present church facilities were dedicated on Caldwood Drive.
From its earliest days the church has been an active part of the community through its many service and outreach programs. The congregation was instrumental in forming three other Christian Churches in the city: Washington Boulevard, Northwood and University.
In the 1950s the congregation recognized the need for camping facilities for youth and built Camp Wildurr in Lumberton which was active until 1987. In 1969 the church became one of the founding sponsors of Some Other Place, a community-wide mission now supported by nearly 50 congregations which provides food, clothing and other help for the needy of Beaumont.
In 1971 First Christian enlisted four other congregations of different denominations to participate in a "Lenten Interfaith Preaching Series". The program still continues with seven Beaumont congregations. Responding to a need in the city, the church in 1974 made available a building on the church grounds for exclusive use by Alcoholics Anonymous. The main church buildings are also used by many community organizations.
First Christian Church has grown from a small band of Christians meeting in a borrowed hall to a congregation worshipping in a large, modern facility. The spirit of those early days remain, drawing strength from their heritage to meet the challenges of the church in modern society and to be a viable part of the community of faith.
Brite Divinity School is grateful to the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Beaumont, Texas, for their generous financial contributions to the advancement of the divinity school for over twenty-eight years.
DISTINGUISHED MINISTER AWARD FOR PASTORAL MINISTRY
Rev. Dr. Curtis L. Keith, Jr.
A native of Texas, Curtis was born in Houston and reared on the Gulf Coast at Corpus Christi, on a ranch in the hill country, and in an old time general store in Groves. He married his teenage sweetheart, Barbara Jeanne Arneson, and they have four adult children. Their oldest son, Matthew, is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and he is the senior minister of the First Christian Church of Kennewick, Washington. Debbie, their daughter, is a Certified Public Accountant in Amarillo. Tim is an automobile dealer, and Curtis III is the manager of a building supply store. Both of their younger sons live in the Houston area.
Answering God’s call to serve in the ministry of the church, Curtis went to TCU (B.A., 1961), and he graduated from Brite Divinity School with the MDiv degree on his twenty-fourth birthday in 1963. That was also the year of his ordination to the Christian ministry. Curtis returned to Brite to complete his MTh degree (1968) and his DMin degree (1978).
Curtis has been blessed with the gift of enthusiasm, and he enjoys sharing life and faith with people. As a church leader he has always focused on the Great Commandment (loving God, loving others) and the Great Commission (making disciples). He believes the church should be the place where people discover their unique gifts and find the encouragement to make a difference with their lives.
Over thirty-seven years of full-time ministry, Dr. Keith served six churches in Texas and Arizona, until his retirement in 2000. The last twelve years, he has been a transitional minister in ten congregations.
Dr. Keith has always been involved in the communities where he lived, serving on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Special Olympics, and civic organizations. In Texas, he served for many years on the Advisory Board of the Department of Human Services and received an award from the State of Texas for his ministry with the elderly.
The Curtis L. and Barbara Keith Ministerial Education Fund was established in 2000 by churches he had served to honor his ministry. This fund benefits students preparing for pastoral ministry in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and enrolled at Brite Divinity School. Barbara and Curtis have also presented Brite Divinity School with a Student Ministry Award that is given each year to the student who most revitalizes and renews the ministry of their student church.
Curtis loves the great outdoors, and he and Barbara spend as much time as they can in the mountains of the West. He has had a lifelong passion for faith, family, friends, food, and fly fishing.
DISTINGUISHED MINISTER AWARD FOR PASTORAL MINISTRY
Rev. Clyde E. Nichols
The Reverend Clyde E. Nichols, a native of Van Alstyne, Texas, received his BA degree from TCU in 1942. Saving Brite College of the Bible (as it was known before 1963) from failing to have a single graduate in 1946, he received his Bachelor of Divinity degree in that year. During seminary he served Disciples churches in Anna and Frisco; then Rev. Nichols served congregations in Athens, Nacogdoches, Big Spring, Borger and Temple.
Rev. Nichols served as Senior Minister of First Christian Church, Temple, for twenty-three years, from 1965 till his retirement in 1986, in which year he was named Minister Emeritus. He was deeply involved in community activities as well as in the work of his congregation, serving as president of the Kiwanis Club, president of the Ministerial Alliance, chair of the Temple United School for Christian Leaders, and chair of the Ministerial Committee for the Texas Sesquicentennial Celebration. He also served on a variety of boards and worked for the continuing welfare of Temple and Bell County citizens.
In the larger church Rev. Nichols directed Chi Rho Camp for fifteen years, served Camp and Conference, served as District 15 president, second vice president of the Trinity-Brazos Area, Adult Representative on the Youth Council, chaired and served on various committees on the district/area, state/regional and national/general level, while remaining conscientiously present to his parishioners. He served Brite Divinity School as the 1965 president of what is now the Alumnae/i Council.
After retirement, Rev. Nichols served as Associate Minister of La Porte Community Church, retired again, and did pulpit supply for the Coastal Plains Area, and joined Pasadena Presbyterian Church where he served as Adjunct Minister. Tired of dodging hurricanes, in 2006 he retired a third time, and he and his wife, Marianne, moved back to Temple to be conveniently located among their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Rev. Nichols has written a weekly, inspirational column, “Lift Up Your Eyes,” for the Temple Daily Telegram since 1965. Today, it is carried in multiple Texas newspapers. Writings from this column have also appeared in various denominational magazines. Over the years, readers requested that chosen articles be put into book form so in 2011, Lift Up Your Eyes, Devotions for Every Day of the Year, a collection of his columns, was published by AuthorHouse. Clyde and Marianne are active members of Grace Presbyterian Church, Temple, Texas.
DISTINGUISHED MINISTER AWARD FOR SPECIALIZED MINISTRY
Reverends Wayne A. Long & Gail G. Long
Wayne Long was raised in Bellflower, CA and was active in the youth program of the Bellflower First Christian Church. He set his sights very early for the ministry and completed undergraduate studies at Northwest Christian College in 1962. After graduation and a year as a youth director in Los Angeles, he moved to Ft. Worth where he earned his BD from Brite Divinity School in 1967.
While at Brite, he met Gail Galyon from Odessa, Texas. Gail was a member of First Christian, Odessa and served as a district officer in the CYF before attending TCU, graduating in 1965. She was dedicated to the ministry and spent her first year of seminary at New College in Edinburgh, Scotland. When she returned to Brite, she met and later married Wayne Long. She completed her MRE degree in 1968.
After graduation from Brite, Wayne and Gail served seven years of ministry at Bethany Christian Church in Dallas, TX. While there they started a Spanish-speaking congregation for the Cubans living in the neighborhood. Their two sons, Nelson (1970) and Nathan (1971) were born in Dallas.
Wayne's cross-cultural evangelistic skills brought an invitation to go to Brazil and work in evangelism and church planting with Christian Missionary Fellowship. At that time, 1974, Gail was ordained by her home church for ministry on the mission field.
The Long family, with two young sons, moved to Fuller School of World Mission, Pasadena, CA, for PhD studies for one year prior to moving to Brazil. After seven years on the mission field, eleven churches were started as well as other ministries with World Vision and literacy training/development led by Gail.
When the Long family returned to the US for Wayne to teach Missions at Northwest Christian College in 1983, he was given a vision for a larger ministry. They formed a new mission organization (Hisportic Christian Mission) to evangelize Portuguese-speaking peoples living on the east coast of the US. The family moved to Rhode Island and worked for 25 years to plant or affiliate 51 Portuguese-speaking churches. While most of the churches are located in New England, they span from New Hampshire to Florida. In 2007, Wayne retired & passed the leadership of the Hisportic Christian Mission to another minister. He was honored with a Doctor of Divinity degree from Northwest Christian University in 2008.
Gail had worked with Hasbro Toy, Rhode Island Hospital and Cox Communications while supporting the mission. She retired in 2008. Wayne and Gail moved to California to be near their sons & grandchildren in 2009. Wayne accepted the call to be the pastor of his home church where he continues to serve. In September 2012 he celebrated 45 years of his ordination and continuous ministry and was awarded the Honored Minister Pin from the Pension Fund of the Christian Church.
Wayne Long has had a distinguished career in a church-planting ministry, but has also served in the pastorate, as a professor, a national organization Executive Director, and an international speaker/teacher in Brazil & Africa. He served as a professor to pastors for 2 weeks in Guinea Bissau, Africa prior to attending the World Convention of Christian Churches in Brazil the summer of 2012.
Gail continues to serve on two church-planting boards and is superintendent of the Preschool/Daycare ministry at First Christian Church in Bellflower. Wayne and Gail have been a ministry team for 45 years and continue to serve together for the Kingdom of God.
DISTINGUISHED MINISTER AWARD FOR INNOVATIVE MINISTRY
Chaplain E. Ben Todd, Jr.
Chaplain E. Ben Todd, a retired US Army Chaplain (Colonel), has served in a variety of military assignments for 34 years. His most recent assignment was as Chief, Department of Ministry and Pastoral Care at Brooke Army Medical Center, and Command Chaplain, Great Plains Regional Medical Command, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX. Before that, he served as Deputy Chief, Department of Pastoral Services, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany. Ben is also a graduate of the Army Chaplain Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Combined Arms & Services Staff School (CAS3), and the Army Command and General Staff College. His military awards include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal ( 3 ), the Army Commendation Medal ( 8 ), Navy Air Crewmember Wings, and other medals, awards, and decorations too numerous to list.
He hails from Myrtle Beach, SC, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC, in 1973. He graduated from Brite Divinity School in 1979 (MDiv). He also completed 4 units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Methodist Hospital, Lubbock, TX.
Ben is a Board Certified Chaplain in the Association of Professional Chaplains, and is ordained and endorsed for Chaplaincy by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
He is married to the former Hee Sook Kim of Hanaam, South Korea, and currently serves as Senior Staff Chaplain for Covenant Health System in Lubbock, TX. Ben has 3 children-- Ben III, Amanda (Mrs. Jerry Garcia), and Mary. He also has 2 grandchildren—Jerry, Jr., and Isabel Garcia.