Dear Alumni and Friends,
We are excited to welcome and share with you Trinity’s newest alumni, the 2013 Graduates; a bright and diverse community of students who are eager to serve others. At the Senior Banquet, many students shared what God has done in their lives while at Trinity. Baccalaureate was a memorable, blessed time of worship and celebration, followed the next morning by a Commencement ceremony that has been described as one of Trinity’s finest celebrations to date. We thank God for his good and gracious work among us.
In God’s hands,
We celebrate the Smith family as son, Josh, graduated from Trinity just over 30 years after mom, Tracy, finished at LBI. Sharing this experience of the same school with two different names and two different campuses has given them an understanding of the growth, challenges and gifts of this college.
Growing up in North Dakota, Tracy’s pastor and his wife were LBI graduates. Although they and Tracy’s parents encouraged her to consider LBI, she had her mind set on one of the area universities. About a month before classes began, with her dorm and roommate assignments all set, Tracy did a sudden, yet prayerful about-face and decided to go to LBI instead. “It was one of the best decisions God has made for me,” Tracy said.
Years later, with the Smith family living just north of Trinity in Marysville, Josh initially looked into the college because of his mom’s history. That, along with the influence of a friend who was already a Trinity student as well as the draw of the Music & Worship program, combined to bring Josh through Trinity’s doors.
Reflecting on his time at Trinity, Josh credits the music faculty in giving him such a positive and wide-ranging college experience.
“My passion is music ministry in a church setting, but also outside of the church with the community; not as a way to bring people in but more to meet people where they’re at,” he said.
New music department chair, Dr. Stephen Marshall-Ward, has become a vital mentor for Josh, and the four years of singing under choral director Michael Miller has tremendously influenced his interest in conducting.
“Josh came to Trinity as a talented singer and pianist; confident, yet humble; and could perform a variety of musical styles,” said Miller.
“He further developed his skills, taking each opportunity given him to shine. He leaves Trinity as a great example of what hard-working students can achieve, all the while enjoying and developing their craft.”
For Tracy, LBI was a great way to start her college experience; however initially it was a rather interesting social experience. As a fairly shy and quiet person who intentionally stayed out of the limelight, she did not initiate any new friendships that first quarter, but rather hung out with the friends from back home she already knew.
However, bit by bit she became friends with some of the other women in the dorm. She was shocked to learn later that these new friends’ first impression of her was that she was stuck-up and unapproachable, when she was simply shy. They had a good laugh, and Tracy learned to be more open.
Tracy’s LBI experience has been a building block for her life through the professors who taught in-depth Bible study, and the new, lifetime friends that continue to enrich her life. She always knew she would be involved in church but didn’t know in what capacity. LBI gave her a firm foundation to build on.
Since then, Tracy has worn many diverse hats. She continued her education and has worked in medical administration; in quality control at Boeing; as a full-time at-home mom; as a daycare provider; as well as working at her home church, Bethlehem Lutheran, with Children, Youth, and Family ministries. About a year ago she began working full-time for Labinal Inc. of Everett in an administrative role. She and her husband, Grant, have Josh and two younger children, Lauryn and Caleb.
“My biggest passion is my wonderful family that God has blessed me with, both at home and at church,” Tracy said.
“Music is, and always has been, an important part of our lives and our worship. We love making music together. On most party occasions (which are frequent), we find ourselves spontaneously singing around the piano to end the evening.”
Now it’s Josh who’s working at the church as the Contemporary Worship and Music Director, as well as continuing full-time at KinderCare as a music and school age teacher. He’s also known to enjoy long walks on the beach with Trinity student Shannon VanBavel, and eating spaghetti.
“My family’s pretty awesome!” said Josh.
Indeed it is, and what a refreshing comment from a young college graduate who is already serving his church and community.
Alumni and former students from the Brunner/Ard family include all four Brunner siblings; two spouses; and two second generation students.
Pictured left, Pastor Louie Brunner, father of the clan, along with his wife Glenna (dec.), were responsible for encouraging numerous students from their church to find their way to LBI’s doorstep.
Our Brunner family story is really many stories as we passed through LBI/Trinity and traveled our different paths. From the oldest to the youngest, our experience of campus life and education has helped shape who we are today.
Dan Brunner ‘74:
After serving as a director of youth ministry, I had the privilege of completing a Master’s degree at Fuller Seminary, and then a Ph.D. at the University of Oxford. As an ELCA pastor, I worked for many years in two congregations in the Portland, Ore. area, the second church being a mission congregation. Since 1995, I have taught Christian history and formation at George Fox Evangelical Seminary and am currently co-authoring a book on evangelical ecotheology.
In 1977, I had the pleasure of marrying Signe Cox ‘74. Having met at LBI, our natural friendship blossomed into deep love. We were graced with two children, Philip and Rachel. We spent the last twenty years of married life in the same home in Beaverton. For over 13 years Signe battled brain cancer by God’s grace and strength. In April 2009 she passed away. A little over a year after her death, I moved into intentional community in the Kenton neighborhood of north Portland. My two granddaughters, the eldest of whom was born a week after Signe died, live one-half mile from me and are the lights of my life.
I feel graced. I love what I do. My relationship with Christ sustains me every day. I have good friends. I have a cool urban garden and three chickens. My children and grandchildren remain a large part of my life.
Debbie (Brunner) Ard ‘76:
I went to LBI/Greenwood right out of high school, graduating from the two-year Biblical Studies program. It was a wonderfully warm place in which to spread my wings during those important years of establishing values and priorities in life. I will always remember Pastor Rismiller's passionate "shigula"—being God's treasured possession; Praise & Prayer nights at the KC; late night study sessions in the cafeteria; Jean Wahlstrom's leadership in music; and the many friendships forged. Each summer included travel for the school; first on a music team, then on a VBS team.
When my husband Wendell and I traveled on the "Family" music team, it was like living life in fast forward—popping in and out of people’s lives—but seeing God do amazing things in those brief encounters. Jean Wahlstrom always had a question for us during team meetings, such as "What are you learning in your devotional life?" As soon as I had an answer ready, she changed the question. That was great preparation for life....as soon as we think we have something mastered or have learned something important, God changes the question.
Life's greatest joy has been raising our three amazing daughters. For pay, I enjoy my work as a pediatric phone advice nurse. We continue to be involved in worship music ministry and leadership at our local church. I will always treasure the foundation LBI helped build in my life.
Wendell Ard ‘76:
After two years of study at the University of Oregon, I took a break to get a better foundation in the Word at LBI, leading to a year of intense Bible study, which has proved to be a great foundation for the rest of my life. After Debbie and I married, we had the privilege to represent LBI traveling on the Family Music ministry team, sharing the love of Jesus with many individuals and churches across the United States.
We settled in Eugene, Ore. and have three lovely daughters. Cherise spent 6 years in China teaching English and sharing the Lord with her students. Now married to Nathan Green, they have a one year old son and are looking to go back to China in a year or so. Angela lives and works here in Eugene as a children's counselor and in business. Bethany, a graduate of Trinity, recently got married and lives locally.
The Lord used LBI to build a love of the Word into my life that I am still learning to appreciate and use in service for Him today.
Carol (Brunner) Morton ‘80:
I can see him still, Knute Lee—in a suit, dress shoes, and tie flapping over his shoulder—running back to campus after chapel. He raced any student who would take him on, even though he was nearing retirement. I never saw him beaten. Other memories include joining the entire student body and faculty in the basement of the North Seattle campus singing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” waiting expectantly for God’s provision to move to the new campus in Issaquah. Our student body president, Jim, knew the alphabetical list of students from memory, because of the many, many times he prayed through that list. Pastor Rismiller, my favorite teacher at LBI, often began the Roman’s class with a rousing version of “And Can It Be.” In that class I learned many truths that still live deep within me. Dan and Nancy Rusch opened up their apartment, sharing their family time and ice cream, so that we would feel loved and cared for.
After LBI and some additional studies, I married David Morton and taught elementary music. We live in Rangely, Colo. where David is the pastor of First Baptist Church, and we have four children: Peter and wife Katie, Michael, Marie, and Andrew. The most fulfilling job I’ve had is homeschooling our kids.
As I consider my time at LBI I am grateful for the friends, teachers and others who demonstrated an unswerving commitment to love and follow Jesus, inspiring me to do the same.
Becky (Brunner) Walker ‘85:
It wasn’t a question of where I would attend college, it was tradition. LBI, at the Issaquah campus, was a time encapsulated in my mind as the “LBI experience.” Close knit friendships formed; much time spent in the Word; wonderful staff and teachers, singing “Alleluia” in the stairwells; music teams Manifest and Shepherd’s Song; and the crazy antics experienced with classmates. This formative time in my life left an imprint that has grounded me when going through tough times.
The years since LBI brought more education, and a variety of corporate office positions. Married from ‘90-‘02, I was blessed with three wonderful children; Nathaniel, Madison, and Noah. It seems my life is my kids. Having my dad close by to be part of our lives has been a great blessing. He attends every sporting event possible.
This past year following my mother’s death has been filled with many life changing decisions; the most important, to get healthy. After losing 83 lbs., I decided to become a Certified Health Coach to help others on their journey to health which is so rewarding. I’m also the Office Manager/Bookkeeper for a dental office. The best years are ahead; I am so very thankful for God’s grace and the gift to live each day anew.
Bethany (Ard) McKenzie ’10 (daughter of Debbie and Wendell):
My journey to Trinity started long ago when my family visited their alma mater, the LBI Issaquah campus. In fall ‘08, I enrolled as a junior in the newly created Social Work program at the brand new Everett Campus, to start my own path. The classes were exciting and challenging, but the close knit community was a whole other enigma that I never expected to enjoy so much. After a tough first year, I became a Resident Assistant in the Campus Apartments and enjoyed connecting with a whole new group of Trinity peers for my senior year. My time at Trinity was truly memorable, shaping my heart and mind into the strong woman I am today.
I continue with my passion for social work and am now finishing one year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA in my hometown of Eugene, Ore. I was married in March 2013. I will always be grateful for my inspiring time in the Social Work program as part of the Trinity family.
Rachel Brunner ‘10 (daughter of Dan and Signe):
Coming to Trinity in Fall ‘08, I began the psychology program and absolutely fell in love with the school. Just a month into the semester I became Student Council President, and my relationship with students and staff began to flourish. The sense of community and support was almost overwhelming. I found throughout my two years at Trinity that there was never a time when I wasn’t learning about life, myself, and my relationship with God. I didn’t come to Trinity broken, but I certainly left a whole new person; a person I never thought I could become. I could not have done this without the help and support of the small Trinity community.
I still keep in touch with some of my closest friends, and I continue to move forward in my relationship with a man I would have never met if I hadn’t come to Trinity. I go between Southern California and Portland every month, attempting to land somewhere soon. Working for a large corporation in their financial department, I keep moving forward in my life.
Where did you grow up? All over the great United States of America (Cleveland, Ohio, then Pocatello, Ida., then Vancouver, Wash.)
Education: A.A. Clark Community College; B. A. Western Washington; M.A. University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Ph.D. Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)
How did you come to Trinity and how long have you been here? What do you appreciate most about Trinity?
I left my first post at California State University to come to Trinity in Fall 2006. What I appreciate most about Trinity is its small size—everybody knows your name (you’re not just a number).
Interests, passions, hobbies: I like to spend time with my family (wife and 2 young boys), travel, work out at the YMCA, ski, and do outdoor activities (hike, river raft, etc.)
Top of your Bucket List: I would like to visit every continent of the world
Your happy place: Traveling with my family OR the summit of a Mountain (that was Mt. St. Helens this summer) OR the endorphins right after a workout.
Favorite Trinity memory/story: Being "cast" as Feydka in the Fiddler on the Roof PlayFest production on the Issaquah campus
Favorite anything: Book author (Stephen Browne), Music (Mumford & Sons), Movie (The Matrix), Vacation Spot (Europe), and Quote (Show me don't tell me)
Childhood ambition: To be an astronaut and/or politician and/or lawyer
Biggest challenge: Wearing a variety of hats at Trinity Lutheran College
Perfect day: Breakfast with my family in the morning, some writing with coffee, a workout, a hike, then a BBQ on the beach for dinner.
First job: Paper boy for the Cleveland Plain Dealer
Indulgence: Baked goods (maple bars)
Faculty Quote: "Dave is one of the most dedicated and intentional professors I have had the pleasure to work with. His ability to incorporate the world today with the theories of Ancient Greece is incredible. I am astounded amidst all of the teaching and mentoring he does, that he has also published in numerous venues. I count him as one of my closest friends." Dr. Betsi Little, Professor & Chair of Psychology
Do you know someone?
Do you know someone looking for a school—a place to discover more about themselves, God, and the world? Maybe you’d like to finish that degree you started years ago? Share this video. Trinity/LBI remains a truly unique place where God continues to change lives. I know these students and they're incredible. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com.