Summer Celebration features honors for David Jones, Lytle Thomas and Walt Leaver
By Janel Shoun on 7/1/2011
|David Jones receives Kopio Award.|
|The Leavers receive their award from Pepperdine.|
Lipscomb University’s 2011 edition of its annual Summer Celebration, a three-day festival of faith and fellowship held on its Nashville, Tenn., campus, wrapped up Friday night with Jeff Walling of Charlotte, N.C., as keynote speaker and a surprise Kopio Award for Lytle Thomas, founder and long-time executive director of the Nashville Inner City Ministry.
The unconventional awarding of the Kopio to Thomas included him being escorted to the dais by Davidson County Sherriff Daron Hall, and included a surprise visit of approximately 40 young people from the ministry arriving in a bus on the Allen Arena floor and a standing ovation from the more than 2,000-person crowd.
Thomas, who founded Nashville Inner City Ministry in 1979 as an outreach to the young people living in the public housing projects of Nashville’s inner city area, is known for its bus program that gathers children in low-income neighborhoods to take them to life-skills and Bible classes throughout the week.
Another surprise highlight of the evening was a visit by Jerry Rushford, director of church relations at Pepperdine University, who presented Walt Leaver and his wife Carol with the Pepperdine University Distinguished Christian Service Award, in honor of his 35 years of ministry at the Brentwood Hills and Antioch Church of Christ congregations and other generous service work. “His unceasing commitment to the cause of Christ has touched thousands of lives and greatly strengthened Churches of Christ throughout Middle Tennessee,” Rushford said.
The surprise award had been scheduled to be presented at the Pepperdine lectures in May, but the Leavers had been unable to attend at the last minute. Leaver is a Lipscomb University vice president and long-time coordinator of Summer Celebration.
The Friday evening celebration was the final of three keynote events in Lipscomb's Allen Arena during the event. Lipscomb University Kopio Awards, given to honor individuals who are “tireless servants for God,” are given annually at Summer Celebration. This year, a Kopio was also presented Thursday night to keynote speaker David Jones, minister at the Schrader Lane Church of Christ. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean participated in the award presentation with Lipscomb President L. Randolph Lowry.
Jones has been with the Schrader Lane congregation since 1963 and has been instrumental in the congregation’s remarkable growth over the years. Jones and Schrader Lane are known for their tremendous efforts to serve the community, including operating two child-care centers, a senior citizens center, an assisted living center and its own blood bank; coordinating a model tutoring program; and establishing an on-site leadership training institute.
This year’s Summer Celebration attendance was estimated at almost 1,000 people daily at the daytime class sessions and almost 2,000 nightly for the evening worship services and keynotes. In addition, an estimated 1,500 people came to campus for the grand finale, a patriotic concert by Acappella and the annual community fireworks.
|Lytle Thomas receives his Kopio Award.||Final keynote speaker Jeff Walling.|
|An Inner City Ministry bus brought in kids to celebrate with Thomas.||Closing keynote session in Allen Arena.|