President’s Newsletter — March 2021

This newsletter from Bob Jones University’s president Steve Pettit is intended to inform BJU’s alumni and friends of student and faculty achievements and campus programs and activities. Communication regarding this newsletter may be addressed to [email protected].

Message from the President

President Steve Pettit based the 2021 Bible Conference theme, “Sanctify Them,” on John 17:17 where Jesus expressed His desire for His disciples to be sanctified by the Truth. In the opening session, Dr. Pettit laid the foundation for the conference by defining sanctification and the role each member of the Trinity plays in our sanctification.

Sanctification is the setting apart of something common or ordinary for God’s purpose. The Old Testament gives us several examples — the Sabbath day set apart for rest and serving God, the tribe of Levi set apart to minister in the tabernacle and temple, and six cities in Israel set apart for refuge. The prime example in the New Testament is Jesus at age 12 telling Mary and Joseph in the temple He was set apart to do the work of His Father. Jesus’ whole life was set apart to God.

Jude tells us we are sanctified by God the Father. The Father set apart His own in eternity according to His eternal purpose or will. He redeemed us through the blood of His Son that we might be set apart through the blood of His Son unto the Father. He sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to live out being set apart or devoted to God.

1 Corinthians 1:2 tells us we are sanctified in Christ. Therefore, God looks on Christ’s actions as our actions, Christ’s perfect obedience as our perfect obedience, Christ’s sinless life as our sinless life.

Sanctification means to purify or make holy; not merely to set apart or treat as holy, but to actually make holy. This is clearly a work of the Spirit of God in our lives. Jeremiah says, “I will put my spirit within them, and they shall walk in my ways.” The Holy Spirit turns the bias of the will away from self to God so that we seek after that which is good or right. Sanctification is the evidence we have new life in Christ.

Sanctification is a process of God working in us and through us. The Spirit convicts; the believer confesses. The blood cleanses; the believer is restored. The believer is in the Word and depends on it; the believer obeys the Word. Through confession and cleansing — through dependence and obedience — we grow.

Our sanctification shows in how we treat or regard God and fellow believers. Our number one concern should be that we reverence, respect, honor and adore God’s name — that we treat it as sacred. We are also to see fellow Christians as God sees them — in Christ. We are to love them with Christ’s love (1 Cor. 13).

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Equality Act Opposes Religious Freedom

The Equality Act which forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is currently before the U.S. Congress. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the bill, and it will soon be debated in the Senate.

This legislative bill is of great concern. It directly opposes religious freedom and freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution. If enacted, this legislation will greatly impact Bob Jones University, your church and other faith-based institutions.

For Bob Jones University, it will significantly impact our ability to educate students according to Biblical truth.

  • We would be forced to hire professors and accept students who identify as LGBT.
  • We may be able to continue teaching biblical standards of human sexuality, but we could not expect the campus community to abide by them.
  • Our health plan, separate facilities for men and women, and student housing could all be affected.
  • Men identifying as women could compete on our women’s sports teams.
  • Our students could lose their federal financial aid.

President Steve Pettit is urging all who oppose the provisions of this bill to call the offices of their two U.S. Senators in Washington, D.C., and ask them to vote against it. You may call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senator’s office.

This bill strikes at the very heart of who Bob Jones University is, our belief in and stand for God’s Word, and our ability to fulfill our mission with our students. Please consider calling your Senators today.

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BJU Presents A Tale of Two Cities

On March 9 and 11–13, Bob Jones University presented its third full-length musical, A Tale of Two Cities. Based on Charles Dickens’ masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities, the musical told the classic story of love, revolution and redemption.

A 65-member cast included BJU students and staff, the BJU Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Michael Moore, and six guest artists: Glenn Seven Allen, Patrick Dunn, Christopher Johnstone, Laura McCulloch, Tony Mowatt and Olivia Vadnais. For two of the guest artists, the performance represented a repeat appearance at BJU.

Composer and lyricist, Jill Santoriello, who created the musical version of the play which appeared on Broadway in 2008, commented that she was excited to see a cast with a mix of professional and student actors and what director Darren Lawson brought to the production.

“Jill was an invaluable partner with us during our preparation,” said Lawson, dean of BJU’s School of Fine Arts and Communication. “BJU was thrilled to mount this epic musical 13 years after its debut with members of the university community accompanying our guest performers.”

Because of COVID-19 protocols, only a limited number of in-person guest tickets were available. The production was also available via a pay-per-view option.

See Also: BJUtoday’s behind-the-scenes of A Tale of Two Cities content

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BJU Holds Annual Bible Conference

Bob Jones University held its annual Bible Conference Feb. 16–19, featuring the theme, “Sanctify Them,” from John 17:17.

President Pettit preached the opening service Tuesday evening, laying the groundwork for the other speakers by defining sanctification and exploring how the believer is sanctified. Wednesday through Friday, three services were held at 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“We always look forward to Bible Conference. It provides a great opportunity for spiritual growth and refreshment,” said Pettit.

Because of COVID-19 protocols, this year’s services were not open to the public but were livestreamed. They can be viewed on BJU’s website archives.

In addition to President Pettit, speakers included Dr. Sam Horn, former president of The Master’s University and Seminary and Central Baptist Theological Seminary and former executive vice president for enrollment and ministerial advancement at BJU; Dr. Rand Hummel, director of The Wilds of New England in Deering, New Hampshire; Dr. Les Ollila, campus chaplain of Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary in Ankeny, Iowa; and Rev. Will Galkin, evangelist and assistant pastor of Gospel Grace Church, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Ollila Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

On Thursday night of Bible Conference, Alumni Relations honored Dr. Les Ollila with a Lifetime Achievement Award for leadership. Dr. Ollila is only the second person to be awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Alumni Relations.

See Also: Patch the Pirate Presented with Lifetime Achievement Award

In presenting the award, John Matthews, BJU’s vice president for advancement and alumni relations, said, “It is my privilege to honor a man who would not want us to recognize him but point people to Jesus Christ. Dr. Ollila, we have learned much from your example and we celebrate you tonight.”

A 1967 graduate, Dr. Ollila has been an evangelist, author, youth pastor, pastor and friend, mentor and counselor to thousands of men in ministry. As a BJU student, he helped plant Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville and served as its pastor for its first year. For 17 years, he was president of Northland Baptist Bible College, later Northland International University. BJU awarded him the Alumnus of the Year Award in 1991.

Dr. Ollila is known for his ministry leadership and life-touching-life approach to discipleship. He used the term “servant leadership” in his preaching well before it became popular.

A number of college presidents and ministry leaders who worked for Dr. Ollila, attended Northland while he was president, or are close friends were on the platform to honor him that evening:

  • Sam Horn — Former president of The Master’s University and Seminary and Central Baptist Theological Seminary
  • David Doran — President, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary and pastor of Inter-City Baptist Church, Allen Park, Michigan
  • Marty Herron — Executive vice president, Faith Baptist Bible College
  • Matt Morrell — President, Central Baptist Theological Seminary and senior pastor, Fourth Baptist Church, Plymouth, Minnesota
  • Rand Hummel — Director, The Wilds of New England
  • Jim Tillotson — President, Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary
  • Will Galkin — Evangelist and assistant pastor of Gospel Grace Church, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Ken Jordan — Former president, Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary, Landsdale, Pennsylvania
  • Gary Walton — President, Harvest Baptist College, Guam
  • Steve Pettit — President, Bob Jones University

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Bible Conference Fundraiser Raises $221,000 for Medical Center

Following their annual tradition, BJU students spearheaded multiple fundraising efforts with the goal of raising $200,000 to support a missions project during the annual Bible Conference Feb. 16–19 — this year a medical center in Ivory Coast.

While students, faculty and staff raised money on campus, BJU alumni and friends from around the world donated online and provided matching gifts to support the project.

As of the first week of March, $221,628 has been raised for the construction and furnishing of Hope Christian Health Center in Ivory Coast, West Africa.

“It’s always an encouragement to see our student body catch the vision for the Bible Conference offering project — and this year was no exception,” BJU President Steve Pettit said. “I’m pleased to see the passion of our students, faculty and staff in working creatively together to raise funds for the Hope Christian Health Center.”

The idea for the project came from Dr. Bernard Kadio, BJU School of Health Professions faculty and director of BJU’s Center for Community and Global Health. As a native of Ivory Coast, Kadio is acutely aware of the need for improved medical treatment in that country, especially for expectant mothers who have a higher-than-average mortality rate.

The new center will expand an existing clinic into a hospital and increase access for more patients than the current medical facility. The offering will cover the costs of the maternity ward of the health center. Land, equipment and other financial resources have already been acquired.

With the opening of the new center, medical personnel and missionaries — including BJU summer medical mission teams — will be able to meet the physical and spiritual needs of over 15,000 patients annually.

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Collegian Staff Wins SCPA Awards

The South Carolina Press Association (SCPA) recognized staff members of BJU’s student newspaper, The Collegian, with multiple awards for 2021. Because of COVID-19 protocols, the SCPA announced winners in late February and will present the awards at its annual meeting later this year.

Both individual members and The Collegian staff in its entirety were honored. Individual students honored include:

  • Alicia Demott, sophomore graphic design major from Roanoke, Virginia — First Place, Cartoon or Illustration
  • Katie French, junior journalism and mass communication major from Lynnwood, Washington — First Place, Arts and Entertainment Story
  • Lindsay Shaleen, journalism and mass communication major from Hanahan, South Carolina — First Place, Photograph
  • Susannah Castle, junior journalism and mass communication major from Brownstown Charter Township, Michigan — Second Place, Cartoon or Illustration
  • Mark Kamibayashiyama, 2020 cinema production graduate from Quezon City, Philippines — Second Place, Photograph
  • Ben Clemons, senior business administration major from Eads, Tennessee — Third Place, Cartoon or Illustration
  • Joanna Scoggins, senior English major from Monroe, Georgia — Third Place, Sports Story
  • Jewel Schuurmans, junior journalism and mass communication major from Sioux Falls, South Dakota — Third Place, Use of Social Media

In addition, The Collegian staff won Second Place in the general excellence category.

“This student staff put hundreds of hours into the production of a weekly paper that serves the entire university family,” said Betty Solomon, faculty advisor for The Collegian. “I know they are grateful for what the Lord has helped them accomplish this year.”

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Calendar for 2021–2022 Academic Year

For the 2021–2022 academic year which begins this fall, BJU — like other area colleges — will return to its standard calendar.

To ensure we could maintain in-person classes throughout first semester in the fall of 2020 and the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 at that time, first semester started early and ended at Thanksgiving. For this coming fall, classes will begin in late August and the semester will end in mid-December.

Returning to our former schedule will enable students to work at summer ministries that go into August; give them an additional two to three weeks to work; enable more breaks during the semester, including a full week at Thanksgiving; and better accommodate intercollegiate sports tournaments.

Key dates for 2021–2022 include:

  • Aug. 21–24 — Check-in/Move-in
  • Aug. 25 — Classes begin
  • Oct. 16–19 — No classes
  • Nov. 21–27 — Thanksgiving break
  • Dec. 15 — Final exams end
  • Jan. 10 — Check-in/Move-in
  • May 6 — 2022 Commencement

A full schedule for the 2021–2022 academic year will be posted on the Calendar of Events as appropriate.

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BJU Launches Intercollegiate Baseball

After three years of preparation, the BJU Bruins baseball team opened its first season with a doubleheader against Montreat College on Feb. 20, at Conestee Park in Greenville. Nearly 1,000 fans attended the game.

On May 3, 2018, BJU Athletic Director, Dr. Neal Ring, announced BJU would begin a baseball program. BJU had applied to the NCAA for membership as a Division III program. One of the requirements for DIII membership was additional sport offerings in the spring, making baseball a natural fit. A nationwide search for a head coach began immediately, and by July Brent Casteel was hired for the position.

Casteel was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1984 after a standout high school and college baseball career and spent three years as a catcher in the Cubs minor league system. After his playing career ended, Casteel served in various coaching roles around the country, including coach of women’s soccer at Northland International University. For the past three years, Casteel has been building BJU’s baseball team — recruiting team members, fundraising and securing a home field.

The Bruins will play their home games at Conestee Park in Greenville, a facility of the Greenville County Rec Department. This 8,000-seat stadium served as the home field for the Greenville Braves — an AA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves — from 1984 to 2004.

“We’re thankful that the Lord opened this opportunity for us to have a great home-field location to start our program,” said Ring. “We’re also thankful for Greenville County and those who have worked on our behalf to make this vision a reality.” The Bruins athletic department has been working in conjunction with Greenville Parks and Recreation to revitalize the stadium.

The Bruins will play nearly 40 games in their inaugural season.

On March 4, the Greenville Drive announced that BJU’s team had been selected to compete as part of a college showcase series on April 6, at Fluor Field in downtown Greenville. The Bruins will compete against Brevard College. Fluor Field is home to the Greenville Drive, the High A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Other colleges competing in the showcase series at Fluor Field include Michigan State, Maryland, Illinois, Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue and Northwestern.

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School of Education Hosts Advisory Board

March 11–12, the School of Education hosted the inaugural meeting of its newly formed Advisory Board, comprised of 18 people with various levels of experience in the field of education who can provide valuable input and advice as the School of Education plans for the future.

At this first meeting, the Advisory Board provided valuable feedback on the School of Education’s mission, vision, purpose statements and value proposition. They reviewed in-depth the newest academic division in the School — the Division of Educational, Child and Family Studies — and provided recommendations.

The Board also participated in workshops on student recruitment, finding a unique market position, discovering ways the School can move forward with its vision and identifying opportunities. President Pettit shared with them the University’s mission and vision, and Dr. Gary Weier, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, gave them an overview of BJU’s strategic plan and the BJU Premium, the total educational experience BJU offers its students.

Advisory Board members include:

  • David Arbuckle — case manager for the Greenville County Department of Social Services
  • Jim Bennett — associate director for the Center for Religious Freedom Education and senior fellow North America Action Team at the Religious Freedom Institute in Washington, D.C.
  • Janice Butler — founding executive director of the Christian Learning Centers of Greenville County
  • Keith DeFreitas — director of professional and business development for BJU’s School for Continuing, Online and Professional Education
  • Steve Dickinson — vice president for business and finance at BJU
  • Cathy Dotson — preschool and elementary principal at Wilmington Christian Academy, North Carolina
  • Edward Earwood — executive director of the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools
  • Sandra Ford — director of grants management at BJU
  • Joe Hale — president of Network of International Christian Schools
  • Bernice Jackson — principal of Brook Glenn Elementary, Greenville County
  • Mark Loach — assistant principal of Monarch Elementary, Greenville County
  • Fran Mauney — academic project specialist for Greenville County Schools
  • Sara Meadows — former art teacher and mentor of elementary-aged children in Greenville; manager of live events at Teach Them Diligently homeschool conventions
  • Zoren Rierson — teacher at Travelers Rest High School; selected as a Greenville County Schools Master Teacher for Special Education
  • Paula Schubert — retired faculty from the Early Childhood Education program at Limestone University
  • Bob Stouffer — high school principal at Southside Christian School, Greenville County
  • Carolyn Styles — member of the Board of Trustees for Greenville County Schools
  • Ellen Weaver — chair of the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee and member of the Board of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities

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Living Gallery Scheduled for April 1–3

BJU will present its annual Living Gallery program April 1–3. Living Gallery is a unique dramatic presentation of sacred masterworks of art depicting Christ’s ministry and passion with human models. Paintings “come alive” in life-size recreations as choirs, instrumentalists and costumed actors re-create scenes from the Lord’s ministry on earth.

See Also: Living Gallery: Art that Breathes

This year’s drama, “A New Creation,” woven throughout the program, tells the story of a Christian artist who tries to help people see beneath the surface of his acclaimed biblical sculptures. His newest work is an ambitious depiction of “The Resurrected Christ,” but in seeking a model to pose, he discovers the most likely human model is a young man who lives life without any thought of Jesus Christ. Can a self-absorbed young man trapped in a self-destructive lifestyle come to believe in something beyond the things he can touch? Can he come to realize that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation”?

There will be five performances of the 2021 Living Gallery:

  • Thursday, April 1, 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, April 2, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 3, 2, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Masking and distancing protocols will be in place.

A limited number of tickets will be available for the public. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for children ages 6–12. Tickets are available at

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BJU SCOPE Offers Online Business Degree Completion Program

BJU’s School for Continuing, Online and Professional Education is now offering a fully online BS in Business degree completion program for adult learners who have earned at least 45 college credits.

The program gives students experience in key areas of business such as finance, marketing, accounting, human resources and technology as well as more foundational areas like communication, ethics, leadership and global awareness.

Carefully selected facilitators bring decades of practical business experience to each course. They teach students to view all business concepts through a biblical worldview lens, which sets BJU’s program apart from other degree completion programs. In addition to taking required courses, students in the program also select a 15-credit concentration in finance/accounting or marketing, allowing them to focus attention on a specific business discipline.

The program offers all courses in an accelerated format. Adults who transfer in the minimum 45 credits and who take two courses each time they are available can generally complete the 120 credits in two years. SCOPE will work with individuals to transfer the maximum number of college credits possible from previous courses they have taken.

For more information on the Business degree completion program, visit

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President Steve Pettit’s Speaking Schedule

March 28, Sun. a.m.
Bible Baptist Church
2023 Avenue C
Scottsbluff, Neb.

Apr. 11, Sun. a.m.
Emmanuel Baptist Church
296 New Britain Ave.
Newington, Conn.

Apr. 11, Sun. p.m.
Faith Baptist Church
4105 Plank Road
Fredericksburg, Va.

Apr. 15, 9 a.m.
Vandalia Christian School Chapel
3919 Pleasant Garden Road
Greensboro, N.C.

Apr. 18, a.m.
Beaverton Baptist Church
2888 Dale Road
Beaverton, Mich.

Apr. 18, p.m.
Calvary Baptist Church
1007 Ecorse Road
Ypsilanti, Mich.

Apr. 25, Sun. a.m. and p.m.
Christchurch Baptist Fellowship
12501 Champion Forest Drive
Houston, Texas

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BJU Hosts Allen Jacobs Memorial Ceremony

On Thursday, March 18, BJU hosted a memorial ceremony in commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the death of former Greenville Police Department Officer Allen Jacobs in the line of duty on March 18, 2016. The ceremony took place in the lobby of Rodeheaver Auditorium at 10 a.m. Prior to the event, the Greenville Police Department (GPD) Honor Guard performed a ceremonial guard from 9–10 a.m.

BJU President Steve Pettit made brief remarks prior to the Honor Guard placing a floral wreath beside a GPD patrol car. “Due to our campus COVID-19 protocols, we were unable to host the annual breakfast for police officers and first responders but want Allen’s parents, both of whom are on our School of Education faculty, the families of other fallen officers and members of local law enforcement to know we stand with and support them,” said Pettit. “We pray for wisdom and safety for officers as they seek to protect and serve our community.”

In addition, the University’s main fountain was lit blue to commemorate law enforcement, and “thin blue line” flags were flown in the center of campus from Sunday, March 14, through Sunday, March 21.

Previously, individuals and businesses in the Greenville area sponsored tables at the annual memorial breakfast. Proceeds from the event benefited the Allen Jacobs Memorial Scholarship Fund, created at the request of the Jacobs family, to assist BJU students majoring in criminal justice. Since 2016, over $90,000 has been raised for the scholarship fund. Donations to the fund may be made online.

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Registration Is Open for BJU Summer Camps

BJU will offer over 50 EDUcamp programs this summer, including academic-related camps where campers can explore specific interests and meet BJU faculty who teach in those areas. These cover a broad range of topics from computer engineering to nursing, from health sciences to astronomy and musical theatre. The Art + Design Scholar camp offers college credit to 11th and 12th graders. Sports camps feature basketball, soccer, volleyball, golf and running.

Specific camps are tailored to elementary, middle school and high school students. Overnight stay is available for students in grades 9–12.

While the majority of camps are offered in July, the camping season runs from the week of June 6 to the week of July 25. Registration is now open with some camps filling up quickly.

For information on specific camps, the camp schedule and general camp information, visit

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Programming Team Places First in Regional Competition

A Bob Jones University intercollegiate computer programming team placed first in a regional virtual programming competition at the end of January. The programming contest associated with the annual Consortium for Computing Sciences Southeastern Region (CCSC-SE) regional conference was hosted by the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Over 30 teams from seven states competed over a three-hour period with the winner determined by the number of problems solved correctly. BJU Team 1 — comprised of junior Erick Ross of Greenville, South Carolina; senior Steven Platt of Carmel, Indiana; and senior Elias Watson of Clearwater, Florida — placed first. BJU Team 2 finished sixth.

BJU will host next year’s CCSC-SE on Jan. 29, 2022.

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