Dear WPU Community,

It’s almost time for one of my favorite family traditions of the year…Thanksgiving! How will you celebrate this holiday?

For me, it starts with an abundance of food and family. First, we begin with my wife Shemeka’s family recipes from South Carolina: big, huge side dishes that fill you up before you even get to the turkeys (notice I’m using the plural!). Then there’s the turkey-cooking itself. I hear the easiest way to cook a turkey is to roast it. But I’ve never been one for easy…we always fry and grill ours in the backyard. My job is to be the Outdoor Chef (this “might” also be the way to get the first bite).

After our meal we stay outside and enjoy a fire. My sons and nieces and nephews roast marshmallows. This is actually my favorite time of the day because it’s my chance to have long conversations about love, life and three of my favorite words in succession: Purpose, Passion, and Calling. My family knows that sitting down with me – whether in my capacity as “Pops” or “Uncle Brian” or “Brother-In-Law Brian” – means you’re in for a meaningful conversation whether you want to be in one or not, so dodging me is a real win for some…but alas, when I host, I will get to you! I am determined to learn and love in meaningful exchanges, and nothing fills my cup more than those authentic moments with my family. Now that my sons are in college and we’re settling more and more into the Pacific Northwest, I hope to forge some new traditions – but that one will always be a constant.

Not everyone is as blessed as I am to enjoy the abundance of food and family. And as much as I revel in these traditions, I am humbled by the knowledge that all of these things are gifts from Our Lord – that none of these blessings should ever be taken for granted. I pray that those who are lonely, hungry, grieving, or struggling with life during this holiday season be strengthened by the Love of the Holy Spirit, and that we, as His instruments, do all in our power to stand in the gap for the people in our midst who need care and healing the most.

And I also pray that all use this blessed Thanksgiving holiday to offer God our most profound thanks. As president of Warner Pacific University, I especially invite you to join me in a moment of gratitude for this holy ministry we are called to share. I am thankful for:

  • Our alumni, community partners, past employees and volunteers who share our commitment to support future students through the giving of their time and treasure.
  • Our dedicated faculty and staff, who face enormous challenges to go above and beyond in our quest to give students the best education possible.
  • Our students who commit to approaching each day with enthusiasm, drive, and big hearts and dreams for the future.

…Most of all, I am thankful for God’s faithfulness to Warner Pacific, and that, despite our challenges, He continuously calls Godly men and women together on its behalf. Through our imperfect service, He blesses this mission to make Christ-centered education available to all, and we are so grateful.

Finally, no matter how you celebrate Thanksgiving, Shemeka and I wish you and your families every blessing and comfort during this season. May you and your loved ones find an abundance of reasons to give thanks, and may all in your circle feel the renewal of God’s love.

In Christ,

Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.
Warner Pacific University