Let the Celebrations Begin

Let the Celebrations Begin

Special events kick off Virginia Wesleyan College’s year-long 50th anniversary celebration

By Laynee Timlin | August 5, 2011

Greer_Miles_edited_photo_with_plaqueFifty years ago, delegates to the summer 1961 Virginia Methodist Annual Conference voted overwhelmingly to support the establishment of Virginia Wesleyan College. After being approved by the State Commission Corporation, the College received its articles of incorporation on July 27, 1961. Five years later, Virginia Wesleyan’s first pioneer class of 75 students stepped onto the 300-acre campus. Fast forward half a century and the College is preparing to welcome the largest freshman class in its history to a diverse and vibrant campus nearly 1,400 students strong – certainly cause for celebration.

On the recent anniversary of the College receiving its article of incorporation, July 27, 2011, Virginia Wesleyan students, alumni, faculty and friends gathered to pay tribute to the historical significance of the date. The VWC Sacred Music Summer Conference Hymn Festival and Service, So Great a Cloud of Witnesses, was held at Bayside Presbyterian Church in Virginia Beach and led by John Bell, an international hymn writer, author, and preacher who is visiting from his native Glasgow, Scotland.

“Dr. Bell led a really beautiful worship service on this special day for VWC. He is really an outstanding liturgical composer,” said VWC Professor of Religious Studies Craig Wansink, who presided over the service. “How fortunate we were to have him as part of the Sacred Music Summer Conference faculty this year.”

Just three days later, on July 30, a Founders’ Reception brought several of the College’s early supporters and many friends together on the top floor of Dominion Enterprises overlooking the city of Norfolk. Emily Miles, chair of the VWC 50th anniversary committee and member of the Board of Trustees, welcomed attendees and thanked them for their long time support and dedicated service to the College.

"This is the first of many events we have planned to celebrate the College's 50th anniversary,” said Miles. “It’s a great time to reconnect the people who have helped to shape Virginia Wesleyan's rich past and to engage many new friends to be part of our promising future."

"This is the first of many events we have planned to celebrate the College's 50th anniversary,” said Miles. “It’s a great time to reconnect the people who have helped to shape Virginia Wesleyan's rich past and to engage many new friends to be part of our promising future."

Virginia Wesleyan President Billy Greer also provided remarks, sharing stories about the valuable impact the College has had on the lives of so many students during the last half century. Greer and Miles unveiled a commemorative plaque that will hang in the Royster Building in Norfolk. The circa 1912 building on Granby Street was the first official home of the College in the early 1960s before the campus was built.

Following the reception, attendees were invited to a concert at Christ & St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Norfolk. The concert, Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow, was the culminating event for the week-long 2011 Sacred Music Summer Conference held at the College.  Dr. Mack Wilberg, music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, conducted the 90-member Wesleyan Festival Chorus, which included singers from throughout Hampton Roads as well as participants in the summer conference. This year’s conference participants came from 18 states, Canada and the Netherlands, and represented 68 different churches and community choruses.

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