On Saturday, October 5, the NCU Alumni Association presented Richard (Dick)
Busic ’62 with the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. Upon receiving the award, Busic provided remarks, highlighting those who have impacted his career in church ministry and his deep connection to NCU.
First I want to say Thank You. I am honored and humbled. Through my ministry and work at NCC (NCU), I was privileged to know and follow the ministries of many of the school’s alumni. Many deserve this honor. The occasion reminds me of a tradition at the Albany First Christian Church of naming an Honored Member of the Year. It was an attempt by telling one person’s story to lift up the contributions all the members had given in the past year or years. So, thank you to all who have contributed to the life and work of this university.
I do have a list of folk I’d like to thank who have been encouragers in my life and ministry. I want to start with my wife of 51 years. Often when persons are going though their thank you list, the spouse is mentioned last (perhaps saving the best to last). I want to start with Ginny. You have been my number one encourager over the 53 years I’ve known you. Like the Beatles sang, “After a hard day’s night, when I come home to you, you make me feel alright.” You are “Unforgettable,” as our favorite Nat King Cole sang it, and surprisingly, “you think that I’m unforgettable too.” To love and be loved in return – the greatest gift – next to God’s love for us all.
I’ve been fortunate to have a supportive family: parents, parents-in-law, brothers, sister-in-law, and three fine sons – thanks for coming tonight, Michael, from San Francisco. All were together over the Labor Day weekend (18 ½ – including the first great grandson, to be 2 years old November 3rd – and who stole the show of course).
Church is not perfect, but has been a great blessing in our lives – our marriage enrichment, parenting skills, devotional life, and courage to witness the faith, hope and love we’ve been taught in scripture.
Alger Fitch was my pastor as a youth in the Milwaukie Christian Church. He always lifted up the importance of a strong ministry with youth. We had supportive leaders from the congregation and good youth ministers from NCC. Marvin Eckfeldt (longtime pastor, NCU trustee) was my youth minister who encouraged me the most – writing thank you notes to me anytime I led a devotion, led songs, worked on a project. He taught me to sing a baritone part in the youth choir. He has been a mentor throughout the rest of my life – Ginny and I just had breakfast with Marvin this August.
An elder in the church one evening, after I had led singing for the congregation, backed me up against one of the arching beams holding up the sanctuary and asked me, “Have you ever considered being a minister?” It was the beginning of a commitment at church camp and a decision to come to NCC.
Of course I had much nurturing at NCC by faculty, staff, and other students. I remember going to Dr. Boosinger at the end of my sophomore year. It told him I didn’t know why I was at NCC. I wanted to be a deep sea fisherman or a forest ranger. He calmly encouraged me to continue considering ministry, reminding me that ministers can fish and hike in the woods as well as preach and teach and pastor a congregation of Christ’s Church.
The last two years of my NCC experience, I was privileged to work with
Dr. James Matthew Alley, minister of Ginny’s home church, Gladstone Christian Church in Oregon. I learned so much from him in working with youth and their families and the leaders of the church. He asked us to stay on two more years following graduation. I shadowed him, prayed with him, called with him, and much more. In my first church during seminary days, I would recall again and again things that I learned from Jim and his loving wife, Rae.
In our first church out of seminary (Garden Road Christian Church in Salem), I was chuck full of ideas and theology to break out before this congregation of 100 members. I remember their patience with me. I remember especially Dr. George and Dorothy Keillor (both graduates of NCC). Ginny and I just celebrated with Dorothy on her 80th birthday. They were raising 6 children. George was a Psychiatrist at the State Hospital. As I more recently began to be the cook, wash the clothes, clean the house, do the bookkeeping, I’ve begun to be aware of the time it took George and Dorothy to raise their family – and yet, they gave so much volunteer time to the church – leading the choir, the youth group, being leaders in the church, along with being primary encouragers of Ginny and me. It felt good to tell her that as she was recently in our home.
Wayne Bryant mentored us in our next venture in ministry at Albany First Christian Church. We worked together about three years before he took the pastorate at University Christian Church in San Diego. I watched him lead the congregation, appreciated his fine preaching, and especially enjoyed our informal staff meetings at the end of each Sunday’s work. Spouses were included. We encouraged each other and recognized the importance of everyone’s contribution to the work of the church. I’ve been privileged to be a part of the Bryant family through the years.
As Wayne left, I was asked to stay. We hired Ray Lindley (about my same age). Ray and I envisioned a co-pastorate (took us a while to work into it with some of the leaders who asked, “where does the buck stop?” – “who is in charge?” We convinced the congregation that the church leaders were in charge. As pastors our role was not above the church, telling it what to do, nor beneath the church, being told what to do, but alongside the church, encouraging and equipping them for their ministry. We had so much fun at minister’s meetings where everyone introduced themselves. Ray would say he was Dick’s associate; I would say that I was Ray’s associate. We were able to evaluate the approach to ministry through the doctoral program at Drew Theological Seminary. It continued on with Ray and Cindy Lindner for another 15 years after I was called to work at NCC.
Before I said yes to the invitation to work as Director Admissions at NCC, I heard that Jim Womack was being considered as the final candidate for president. I knew Jim from seminary days, so I called to ask his views about us working together and his understanding of the job. He encouraged me to take the job, thus beginning a working relationship of 18 + years. After a couple of years, Leo Woodruff announced his impending retirement, and I was asked to work in fund raising. Both of these jobs were career changes for me, although much I had experienced in the pastorate was helpful. Jim was a good boss, with many suggestions for me, and yet, always having my back – supporting and encouraging me all along the way, whether before trustees, faculty, or other staff or donors. I made my share of mistakes, but Jim’s encouragement kept me working at my best.
Leo stayed on for a period to guide me in the work and relationships he had established with donors. I wished often that I could go to sleep with electrodes connected to my brain and Leo’s that would automatically transfer everything he knew into my mind overnight. It doesn’t work that way, of course. I continued learning about this work through relating to the faculty, students, and many supporters of this college.
Dan Bryant was a youth in our youth group at Albany First Christian Church. He has been my pastor at Eugene First Christian Church for over 20 years. When I first heard he had been chosen by the search committee, I was surprised. He was still that young boy in our youth group – also the first of my pastors that was younger than me. Once I let him grow up in my mind, I have felt his encouragement and appreciated his help in growing my faith and witness. He has faithfully and courageously born witness to God’s love for all, which is often a controversial thing to do but at best very, very good news.
One more mentor. Martha Tippets is a support group leader for caregivers. While Ginny is in a program she enjoys called “Active Lives, Active Minds,” I have a day off, so to speak. I use it to climb Mt. Pisgah or go for a long bike ride with a friend, or work at the church each morning. The afternoon is spent with Martha and the others in her group. She is 89 years young, took care of her husband for 15 years, worked as a volunteer in hospice and for the last 10 years worked with those who care for someone with memory loss. She knows how to keep us taking good care of ourselves so that we can continue as long as possible taking good care of our loved one.
The microphone is about to be cut off or a shepherds crook pull me off stage, but I hope you have sensed a theme here – encouragement. You won’t find anyone with whom you will always agree, but you will find plenty who could use some encouragement. Barnabas was a “son of encouragement”, as we read about him in the book of Acts. He thought about the needs of others and gave generously to make life better for them. He introduced Saul to those wary apostles, took the relief offering to Jerusalem, preached at Antioch, and accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey.
The ministry of encouragement, as you know, allows us in relationship to sense the Holy Spirit’s nudging along this Way we have seen in Jesus Christ.
One more short story. Driving back in the car with a student who sang at an NCC event, the student was silent and then said, “How can you do this?” I asked, “Do what?” She replied, “Ask people for money?” In response I said there is the asking, but most of the time it is saying “thanks.” It is telling the positive stories of faculty and students – results of the giving of those who have believed in this college and its mission.
God has an ongoing purpose for this university; I’m sure of it. And thanks to all of you who through your achievements and your encouragement prove that to be true.
Dick Busic ’62