125 years ago, David Lipscomb and James A. Harding envisioned an institution that would be set apart in the eyes of students for its academic rigor and Christian focus. Today, Lipscomb University has educated over 42,000 alumni who have become missional professionals, taking their faith with them into their designated fields.
On Nov. 4, Lipscomb University recognized alumni Lori Bumpas (’86) executive director of Shiloh NYC, and Mark Lanier (’81) an attorney, author, teacher, pastor and expert storyteller, for their inspiring and profound impact in the world as part of Lipscomb’s inaugural “Lipscomb Honors: An Evening of Story and Song” event at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame.
Nearly 250 guests attended the event that launched Lipscomb’s Homecoming weekend and has been named the highest honor conferred upon Lipscomb alum.
“We gather tonight as a community to recognize that there are folks who were formed at this university in a particular moment in time and are doing exactly what David Lipscomb would’ve imagined,” said L. Randolph Lowry, Lipscomb University’s president. “In their fields they have excelled, and they’ve taken with them a sense of faith as they have done that.”
Bumpas, who graduated from Lipscomb with a Bachelor of Science in accounting, embarked on a 10-year corporate career with CUC International before becoming executive director of Shiloh NYC, a Church of Christ-based nonprofit organization in 1997.
Founded in 1951, Shiloh NYC has served more than 10,000 at-risk children from New York City’s most difficult communities. It also operates Camp Shiloh, a Christian summer camp; offers school-based programs in South Bronx and works with three inner city schools to help students focus on new ways of learning through tutoring and mentoring.
Bumpas earned a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College and completed an executive-level program from Columbia’s Business School’s Institute for Not-for-Profit Management.
“Thank you for this humbling honor,” said Bumpas. “I am very grateful to God for taking me on this journey and I’m also grateful that He introduced me to the Lipscomb community. I chose to go to Lipscomb because they had a fantastic accounting department, but they also had a community of faith. When I was there Charles Fraiser, Bobby Brown and Axel Swang invested in me and went beyond the classroom.
“If there is one thing God has taught me through Shiloh, it is that He can restore broken. I was broken and He restored me time-and-time again, and it has been such an inspiration to see how God has faithfully worked in the lives of the children, staff and the volunteers at Shiloh, and how those lives have been changed forever.”
Bumpas concluded her speech inviting guests to be a part of the work the Lord is doing within Shiloh NYC stating, “come to serve, but be prepared to learn to live.”
Lanier, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible from Lipscomb, was also named a recipient of the inaugural Lipscomb Honors award and is no stranger to the public platform. Since founding The Lanier Law Firm in 1990, Lanier has earned international recognition as one of the country’s top trial lawyers based on courtroom battles involving some of the world’s largest companies.
Lanier’s courtroom work has landed articles in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg News and The Houston Chronicle. He is also a frequent guest on news shows including CNBC’s “Squawk Box” and Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto.”
In 2011, Lanier received the distinguished “Ambassador of Peace” award from the Guatemalan government, was one of three recipients honored with the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards for Texas Tech University and also received the Texas Tech University School of Law’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2005. Lanier is also the founder of the Lanier Theological Library, one of the nation’s largest private theological collections and is the founder of the Christian Trial Lawyers Association; a nonprofit organization that seeks to create a network of principled attorneys to minister to others through civic-minded endeavors.
Lanier teaches a weekly Sunday school class for 700-plus members at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, published the book Christianity on Trial and received honorary doctors degrees from Pepperdine University, Saint John’s University and Trinity Evangelical.
“The reality is students come to a university as a consumer but they leave as its product,” said Lowry. “Mark, we appreciate you being a product of this university and recognize your generosity to people, your passion for your work and your love for Scripture, and we are simply honored to have this moment where we can honor you.”
“Thank you for this honor, I am very touched,” said Lanier. “I graduated from Lipscomb in 1981, and I know about my classmates and how so many others are more deserving of this honor than I am. I came to Lipscomb with a desire to preach, and Harvey Floyd had such an effect on me. Dr. Floyd said that his favorite passage to preach out of is Ephesians 2:8-10: ‘for by grace you’ve been saved through faith, not by works lest any man should boast, for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for the purpose of good works.’
“For those of us who know Jesus, the glory doesn’t come to us, because these are the works that God prepared beforehand. God is at work in us, and if the Lord Jesus would let some slug lawyer do some good in His name, then Heaven forbid that slug lawyer should do anything except say thank you, Lord.”
Also recognized at the event were two retiring Lipscomb board members Robbie B. Davis and J. Gregory Hardeman, who have both served on Lipscomb’s Board of Trustees since 2004.
David Scobey, chair of Lipscomb’s Board of Trustees, thanked Davis and Hardeman for their dedicated service to the board saying it takes the right people with the right skills and experiences to make a great team and both Davis and Hardeman were big components of that.
Since the event was held in Music City at one of the largest museums and research centers dedicated to the preservation and of country music, the Country Music Hall of Fame, Phil Ellenburg, vice president for alumni relations at Lipscomb, said it was only fitting that those gathered should enjoy music by two of the best known songwriters in country music.
“Stories are memorable, stories paint pictures in unique ways and I would argue that none are more powerful or memorable than stories that are set to music,” said Ellenburg.
Nashville-based songwriters Mike Reid and Tim Nichols performed a round and shared some of their hit-songs that are performed by some of today’s hottest artists. Nichols played his songs "Heads Carolina, Tails California," recorded by Jo Dee Messina; "That'll Be Alright," recorded by Alan Jackson; and "Live Like You Were Dying," recorded by Tim McGraw. Reid played "Everywhere," recorded by Tim McGraw; "Stranger In My House," recorded by Ronnie Dunn; and "I Can't Make You Love Me," recorded by Bonnie Raitt.
Special guest Ronan Tynan, a member of The Irish Tenors, also sang three songs throughout the evening including “God Bless America,” to kick-off the event and “Danny Boy” and “Isle of Tears” to conclude the event.
- Photos by Kristi Jones