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@IWUpresident: David Wright engages community on social media

Dr. David Wright, Indiana Wesleyan University’s president for nearly a full academic year, is no stranger to the social media scene.

Dr. Wright posting a tweet about his interview with The Sojourn

Dr. Wright posting a tweet about his interview with The Sojourn

Though not much of a Facebook or Twitter buff before taking on the title of president, Wright now consistently runs two Facebook pages – one personal and one presidential, a Twitter page and a blog.

“It really struck me that that’s an important way of maintaining a connection today,” he said. “People don’t have a lot of time to sit and read things,”

Wright decided to become more active on social media for his presidency partially as a result of a conference with other university presidents who talked about various ways they were connecting with their communities.

“They all had thought purposefully about the way they would use media today to connect on behalf of the university,” Wright said. “Not so much a personal contact, but how would they communicate on behalf of the university as the president with the multiple publics.”

Wright shared that his Twitter account is connected to both of his Facebook accounts, so anything he tweets gets automatically posted to Facebook as well, increasing the interaction with other media users.

His blog is also connected with both his Twitter and Facebook accounts, giving easy access to his thoughts. photo

Wright says that he, for the most part, uses his Twitter and Facebook posts for brief updates that he tries to share a few times each day. His blog posts come less frequently – usually once every week or two, but he adds much more content.

“The blog posts tend to be longer and more substantive,” he said. “People feel like it’s a more immediate kind of connection with my philosophy or where I think the university’s going or things that are going on in our context.”

“The power of that connection has been pretty amazing to me,” he added.

IMG_6699Wright sees his use of social media as a great way to connect with students and others in the community. He said he has had people start conversations with him about his posts, finding them as an area of common ground with him.

Although readers have given Wright a lot of positive feedback from his various posts, he admitted there has been some negative feedback, usually in regards to something he has shared that someone does not agree with. He realizes though, that people disagreeing occasionally come with the territory.

“If everybody agreed, you probably aren’t doing your job,” Wright said

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McConn hosts student art competition

The IWU community enjoyed homemade artwork along with their coffee, thanks to the first annual McConn Art Competition Feb. 7.

The contest prompted students of all majors to submit original coffee-themed art to be displayed at McConn.

Submitted works spanned a range of media, from photography to pencil to espresso. First place winner Jessi Rodman (sr) used pen and ink to draw a McConn cup brandished with the image of a bear.IMG_1397

Marissa Witchger (sr) and Brynn Stewart (sr) tied for second place with paired photos of ceramic McConn mugs surrounded by coffee beans. Amanda Reller (sr) explored the coffee bean itself, repeating the shape in an achromatic abstract painting which took third place.

Winners received McConn gift cards and Nalgene water bottles, but participants, judges and McConn staff agreed the real reward was the art itself.

For Reller, a graphic design major, the competition offered a chance to try new techniques.

“I haven’t done a lot of painting, but I really love it, and that’s why I chose to do painting instead of graphic design,” Reller said. “It’s a medium I’d love to get better at, so I figured this would be a fun time to explore it more and just have fun.”

Another participant, illustration major Cortez Neumann (jr), also took a few risks in his artistic process.

“The contest theme was coffee, so I figured, what’s better to paint it with than actual coffee?” Neumann said as he dipped his brush into a glass of double-dark fresh brew.

Neumann perched at a McConn table for an hour and a half before the competition deadline, painting a flavorful interpretation of a steaming coffee cup.

“For me, the contest is not about whether I win or lose. It’s about showing our campus what we do,” Neumann said. “It’s cool our art can be in McConn, not just in the hallway of Beard or in the 1920 Gallery.”

IMG_1406McConn Marketing Manager Jake Smith (jr) organized the competition with that purpose in mind.

“I love showcasing and demonstrating the talents of the students on campus,” Smith said.

Smith hopes to display as many of this year’s entries as possible, because “all of them are fantastic, not just the three winners” and said he would like to see the event become a campus tradition.

Will Carpenter, associate professor of art, judged the entries along with art instructor Carl Rudy.

“I think the greatest benefit will be to McConn,” Carpenter said. “Other organizations on campus could improve their spaces if they acquired or at least displayed high quality student artwork.”

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Crepe Crazy opens in Marion

Crepe Crazy has more than 20 choices of savory and sweet crepes

Crepe Crazy has more than 20 choices of savory and sweet crepes.

Marion residents can now enjoy a tasty treat that’s served around the world at a new local restaurant.

Matt and Mary Stinson recently opened up Crepe Crazy, a cozy cafe that offers both sweet and savory crepes.

“[Crepe Crazy] fills a niche in Marion for both the independent food market and the dessert market,” Matt said.

Matt believes Crepe Crazy will be a standout among other restaurants in the city.

“Crepes are popular all over the world,” Matt said. “We wanted to do something that wasn’t being done here in Marion.”

The Stinsons have had their fair share of experience in the food business. From owning franchise pizza restaurants to frozen yogurt shops, Crepe Crazy marks the twelfth restaurant the Stinsons have owned.

Matt and Mary were missionaries in Brazil for 10 years before moving to Marion in 2008. After their move, the two opened up JuJu Berry, a self-serve frozen yogurt shop.

Crepe Crazy opened up Dec. 17, 2013 and the Stinsons are working toward making the restaurant better for the staff as well as the customers.

“We want everything to be as fast as possible,” Matt said. “Sometimes, people will eliminate you if you are slow. We make the food fresh when a customer comes in and orders, so we are striving to get orders out fast.”

The menu, designed by Matt and Mary with unique combinations, includes a choice of more than 20 different savory and sweet crepes. The savory flavors are served in a choice of panini or crepe.

Matt described one of his favorite flavors – the Mac and Ribs. It’s a crepe or panini filled with macaroni and cheese, pork, barbeque sauce and grilled onions. He said many of the combinations are designed to be classic favorites with a new twist.

“We want to find food that people like but put a different slant on it,” Matt said.

As far as the future for Crepe Crazy, the Stinsons said there may be new menu items as the restaurant gets more popular.

Mary described an idea of a crepe that would include frozen yogurt from JuJu Berry. She also mentioned other menu items may be featured weekly such as a pot roast savory crepe.

Crepe Crazy is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.


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Summit speaker tells about calling

During a Christmas Eve church service in 2008, a Michigan outreach pastor felt a nudge to take the leap as a lead pastor in his church. A little more than a year later, he answered that call.

Kyle Ray, lead pastor of Kentwood Community Church, didn’t always pursue ministry. He went to the University of Michigan and Georgia State for engineering.

Ray then worked for General Motors in both Georgia and Michigan. In Michigan, Ray met his wife, Petra. When they were engaged, Ray felt called to leave GM.

Kyle Ray speaks about the book of Jeremiah during a Wednesday night IWU Summit Service.

Kyle Ray speaks about the book of Jeremiah during a Wednesday night IWU Summit Service.

The Rays then moved to Grand Rapids after Kyle accepted a job with Concept Industries in 1999, the same year they got married. In October of that year, the Rays found Kentwood Community Church.

At the church, the Rays connected with lead pastor Wayne Schmidt. After meeting them, Schmidt asked if Kyle and Petra wanted to serve at the church and reach the increasing diverse peoples of Kentwood.

“We laughed,” Ray said.

Despite their slight amusement, it didn’t stop the Rays from serving.

Petra served the church in a hospitality role. Kyle played trumpet in the praise band, which led to him leading a brass ensemble. He also taught a young adult and outreach class in the church.

After a couple of years of serving, Ray felt called to ministry. He heard the word seminary in his head one day. Without knowing the outcome, he took the leap and enrolled at Asbury Theological Seminary in 2003.

“I had a real clear call that I was supposed to go to seminary,” Ray said. “I didn’t know that was a call to be a pastor. I thought, well maybe I’m supposed to come back and be a really good Sunday school teacher and keep working as an engineer.”

While at Asbury, Ray did realize that being a pastor was his call. Before he left for seminary, Schmidt told him that if he felt called back to Kentwood Community, there would be a spot open for him. That ended up happening.

“It was in ‘05, I remember praying, ‘Lord, are you calling us back to KCC or are we looking at going back just because it’s convenient?’” Ray said. “I really felt a clear call that was where we were supposed to go.”

He then served as outreach pastor starting in 2006.

Right before Ray came back as pastor, Schmidt had a vision of reaching the minorities of Kentwood. He admits the congregation lacked diversity. Schmidt also said Ray could help him in this.

“It was time where we had always been a strong church, a multiplying church,” Schmidt said. “But we were learning because our community had become so diverse, what it meant to be a multi-ethnic church.”

Schmidt said when he planted the church in 1979, 2 percent of Kentwood was minority. Now, he said it’s about 40 percent, and more than 70 nationalities of students in the Kentwood public schools.

Ray was the first African American pastor on staff at Kentwood Community. He said many community members couldn’t really imagine an African American becoming lead pastor of a suburban church.

“It sent a huge message to the community that God was up to something good in the life of KCC,” Ray said.

On Jan. 20, 2009, Schmidt asked Ray if he felt called by God to be lead pastor of the church. Schmidt didn’t know Ray began that thought more than a month before. Schmidt wasn’t planning on leaving since he’d been lead pastor for 30 years.

“I’d seen the favor on his life, the rapport with our congregation, the outreach into the community,” Schmidt said. “Kyle had been kind of homegrown in that he was an engineer when he came so that whole journey of lay-person, seminary, pastor. It all made me wonder if God was preparing him.”

Then in August of 2009, Ray and Schmidt told the congregation their plans of Ray becoming lead pastor starting in 2010.

Since Schmidt wasn’t planning on leaving the church, he didn’t know for sure what would happen next. His whole ministry was spent at Kentwood Community since age 21. After some time of uncertainty, he began discussions with Indiana Wesleyan University and started his new job as Vice President for Wesley Seminary at the beginning of 2010.

Dr. Jim Lo, IWU’s dean of the chapel, contacted Ray to speak in the Summit spiritual emphasis week for spring semester of 2014. Ray had to pray about it, and thought about what college students need to know.

Ray decided on the story of Jeremiah in the Bible. He said Jeremiah wanted to quit in his calling despite it all coming from God, and that only God could keep Jeremiah going. Ray believes some college students may think that same way.

“I want the students to know that there is a consuming fire from the Lord that ought to reside in them that makes it so they cannot keep the message of Christ to themselves,” Ray said.

As four years passed as lead pastor at Kentwood Community, Ray said the church has undergone a transformation in reaching different ethnicities thanks to Schmidt’s prompting in 2005. He said there’s been significant growth, specifically in the hispanic, asian and african culture.

“We say we don’t want it just to be cosmetically diverse, we’ll know that we’re getting somewhere when we see people breaking bread together across cultural lines.

“It’s been good, Ray said, “quite the journey.”

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