Reunion 2017 Celebrates Asbury Community

At class events, Asbury University alumni laughed, cried, reminisced and caught up on the latest University news. In Chapel services, they sang their class hymns, enjoyed special music and heard messages from fellow alumni. All weekend (June 22-25), Reunion 2017: Together! celebrated the Asbury community — past, present and future.

Asbury welcomed more than 1,100 guests to campus, spanning class years from 1947 to 2017. This year’s theme, “Together,” drew from the words of 1907 alumnus E. Stanley Jones, commemorated on a plaque in Hughes Auditorium: “Here we enter a fellowship. Sometimes we will agree to differ; always we will resolve to love, and unite to serve.”

Commissioner Kay Fuller ’57 Rader — wife of retired Salvation Army General and former Asbury President Paul A. Rader ’56 — celebrated her 60th class reunion this year. Rader says Reunion represents Asbury’s global reach as alumni return from all over the world.

“Reunion brings the family back together,” Rader said. “It’s a warm, friendly feeling that comes through your fellowship and friendship with them, not only as people, but also as children of God. You feel like they’re your brothers and sisters in Christ as well as your friends.”

Reunion was packed with activities from beginning to end. Guests enjoyed Chapel in Hughes; coffee with current and retired faculty; special events for banner-year classes; screenings of the Asbury-produced film “Nazareth;” special reunions for the Women’s Choir, current and former members of the Alumni Board and the Class of 2016; an Old-Fashioned Hymn Sing; a class parade; a fireworks show, a dessert reception and much more. 

Most importantly, Reunion allowed alumni to reconnect with friends. For many alumni, friendships with fellow students and with faculty members have been among the most formative relationships of their lives.

Asbury University welcomes nearly 1,000 alumni from across the U.S. and around the world during Reunion 2017: Together!
From left: Arthur Sweeney '07, Dr. Art Nonneman and A.J. Stich '06 reconnected during Reunion 2017.

Arthur Sweeney ’07 and A.J. Stich ’06 weren’t friends during their first couple of years at Asbury. Sweeney says it was because they didn’t really know each other. Stich says it’s because he mistook Sweeney’s County Mayo Irish accent for a Scottish accent, and it took Sweeney two years to forgive him.

Jokes aside, the two did become fast friends during a summer on Asbury’s campus — Stich working for conference services and Sweeney working in the Alumni office. Last week, the two returned to Asbury for their own 10-year Reunion, thankful for friendships that last a lifetime.

Today, Stich is principal of an elementary school in Chicago, and Sweeney works for Google in Ireland. They’re a long way from Wilmore, but the friends they made at Asbury — including Andrew Sullivan ’07 — are friends for life.

“Asbury is a special place,” Stich said. “I’ve traveled the world and worked in various places across the country — Asbury is unique, and I love coming back.”

Sweeney agrees. After working at two other universities, he says Asbury is unique in the way it prioritizes building relationships between faculty and students. As a Psychology major, Sweeney developed close friendships with faculty members including Al ’60 and Yvonne Cochran ’58 Moulton and Dr. Art Nonneman.

Before Friday’s Chapel service with Dr. Terry Faris ’67, Sweeney and Stich caught up with Nonneman in the Student Center. The two friends had been part of a Bible study that met in Nonneman’s home, and they say it deeply impacted their spiritual growth.

When Nonneman told another guest that he had taught Psychology at Asbury, Sweeney shook his head and smiled. For a moment, the big man with the County Mayo accent looked like he might cry. 

“You taught us much more than that, Dr. Nonneman,” he said. “You taught us life."

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