Tag Archive | "Kirk Cameron"

Honoring Cameron: 2012 World Changer inducted

Wednesday morning, Indiana Wesleyan University President Henry Smith inducted into the Society of World Changers its 10th member, actor Kirk Cameron.

The convocation began at 10 a.m. with Smith introducing Cameron and briefly stating why the committee chose him as this year’s nominee: “We honor Kirk Cameron – who through his career as an actor, producer, author, evangelist and, most important, [as a] follower of Jesus Christ – is changing the world.”

Smith then introduced Student Body President Jenna Childress (sr) who led the room in prayer and Carl Shepherd, chairman of the board of trustees, to tell the history of the Society of World Changers.

The society has been in existence since 2003, with its first inductee the late Bob Briner, who inspired the award with his book “Roaring Lambs.”

“[Briner] thought Christians spent too much time hiding in their own cultural enclaves, when they should be invading and occupying the world, embodying the spirit of Christ in secular professions,” Shepherd said.

Smith then introduced Dr. Keith Newman, IWU’s executive vice president, to the stage for a Q-and-A with Cameron. This is the first year the convocation has featured such a session.

Cameron spoke of his family; his fame on the 1980s sitcom “Growing Pains”; his work with Camp Firefly, a camp he created for seriously ill children and their families; his faith and his two most recent movie successes.

Cameron starred in the Christian film “Fireproof,” which was the highest-grossing independent film for 2008.

Cameron also travels around the country speaking at the “Love Worth Fighting For” marriage conference, inspired by the movie.

His most recent film, “Monumental,” is a documentary about the founding fathers of America. The movie released last month.

Cameron is known by the mainstream mostly for his controversial stance on homosexuality. In a March 2 interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, Cameron called homosexuality “detrimental and ultimately destructive,” causing actors and gay-rights supporters to react.

“Growing Pains” co-star Alan Thicke tweeted in response to the Piers Morgan interview: “I’m getting him some new books. The Old Testament simply can’t be expected to explain everything.”

Gay actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson of “Modern Family” tweeted as well: “The only unnatural thing about me being gay is that I had a crush on Kirk Cameron until about 24 hours ago.”

Newman addressed this controversy at the convocation by introducing a clip of Cameron on the “Today Show.”

“I was surprised, frankly, that people were surprised by the things that I’ve said,” said Cameron on the show. “I have been consistent for 15 years as a Christian. I’m a Bible-believing Christian. What I would have thought was more newsworthy is if I had said something that contradicted the Word of God, if I had contradicted my faith.”

Cameron called the controversy “instructive” and “exciting” for him.

He went on to say, “If you ever get a chance to sit across from someone with a diametrically opposed worldview and stare into the muzzle of a loaded question on national television during the presidential election year and be asked to answer the questions, ‘What do you think of gay marriage?’ ‘Is homosexuality a sin?’ ‘What do you think of abortion, especially in the cases of incest and rape?’ ‘Should the Catholic Church be forced to pay for contraception against their religious conscious?’ and ‘Who would make the best president for the next 4 years?’ – you should go for it.”

Cameron finished his talk by encouraging students to go to the Society of World Changers busts in the library atrium to pick an inductee to research and learn about for their contribution to the world.

“God often uses nobodies from nowhere with nothing to offer but a fully surrendered heart,” Cameron said.
Smith then revealed the bronze bust, and after the Chorale performed, he presented the presidential citation. Dr. Katie Wampler, assistant professor of theatre, gave the benediction.

Sophomores Justin Tracy and Cameron Ames said they believed the ceremony – especially in regard to the new Q-and-A format – was a success.

“I was very pleased,” said Tracy. “I think it went out very smoothly. I think we were very receptive and very welcoming to him. I was happy for that.”

Ames agreed, saying: “I was really pleased that the student body was receptive to [Cameron’s induction]. I was afraid that there might be a little unrest.”

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Honoring Cameron: First to receive Presidential Citation

For the past eight years, each audience at the Society of World Changers inductions has watched as showcased individuals received honorary doctorates after being awarded the title “World Changer.”

During the ninth annual ceremony, honoring actor Kirk Cameron, however, an audience at Indiana Wesleyan University’s main campus saw for the first time the awarding of a presidential citation.

Cameron is the first inductee of the Society of World Changers to receive a presidential citation in lieu of an honorary doctorate, according to Dr. Larry Lindsey, chief of staff.

While still a high honor, the presidential citation is fundamentally different than an honorary doctorate.

“Honorary doctorates are very special recognitions. It’s the highest honor we could give to someone outside of them being a student,” said Dr. Mike Fratzke, chair of the Division of Health and Human Performance.

Fratzke serves as one of two faculty senate representatives on the University Honorary Degrees Council, which assesses and determines the awarding of honorary doctorates from IWU.

The qualifications for such an honor are not fixed.

“There aren’t any written guidelines that are in our faculty handbook that tell us specifically when to do one or you do the other,” said Dr. David Wright, provost and chief academic officer. “So it has to deal really with a bit of a judgment call that unfolds as you consider the individual and what they’ve done or where they are in their life and in their careers.”

In general, however, when considering awarding an individual with an honorary doctorate, areas of assessment include the person’s “level of achievement, length of achievement and breadth of influence within a professional career,” according to Wright.

Additionally, non-academic factors are of influence.

“As a Christian university, one of the things we look for is their commitment to Christ, their focus on that in their life,” said Fratzke.

Additionally, according to Wright, a significant difference between an honorary doctorate and a presidential citation comes from the source of the award.

“The president can give a citation to honor somebody for whatever they’ve done that is worthy of honor. And that really, that ability is vested in the president’s office,” said Wright. “A doctorate, on the other hand … presidents don’t give doctorates, the institution gives doctorates.”

According to Fratzke, Cameron was not presented to the University Honorary Degrees Council as a candidate for potentially receiving an honorary doctorate.

“We didn’t have it as a committee issue, but I would assume Kirk maybe didn’t have some of the same academic credentials in the academic field that might work toward him being considered for a doctorate. His name has not come to our committee,” Fratzke said.

According to Wright, the president and his office are responsible for determining the awarding of a presidential citation, independent of the review of the Honorary Degrees Council.

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Honoring Cameron: 2012 World Changer inducted
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Honoring Cameron: Student perspectives

The April 11 Society of World Changers convocation prompted a variety of reactions from Indiana Wesleyan University students.

For Ashlee Mettert (sr), an English and writing major at IWU, the ceremony was enjoyable.
“I liked it,” she said. “At first, I was a little bit leery about what was going to happen with Kirk Cameron being inducted, but I really liked what he has to say. I thought it was very inspiring and uplifting.”

“I was not disappointed,” said Linnea Manheim (sr), a social studies major at IWU. “I had hoped that those who questioned Mr. Cameron’s nomination would see another side of him at the convocation, that would favorably change their opinions.”

“I was particularly impressed,” added Manheim, “to hear about how he stood up for his beliefs and refused to compromise Biblical standards when confronted with politically charged questions on the ‘Today Show.’”

During the interview, a clip from the “Today Show” was shown in which Cameron spoke out against homosexuality based on Christian principles. Like Manheim, Rob Clarkson (sr), a psychology major at IWU, responded positively to the inclusion of the video in the ceremony.

“As far as the video is concerned,” said Clarkson, “you could either pretend that that’s not happening or just embrace it. I like that they were like, ‘Hey, he’s in a lot of heat for saying things that people thought were very homophobic, and he was just acknowledging how it is.’ I like that we just went with it head-on rather just pretending that it doesn’t exist.”

“I’m glad that they brought up the Piers Morgan interview,” said Nick Rassi (jr), an English and writing major at IWU. “We were able to kind of see where he comes from a little better, even me. I don’t agree with all his stances that he takes and advocates for, but I think that what he is doing and the way he presents himself is genuine, and I think that is something that we can agree on as a body of believers: that it is important to stand firm in our beliefs and be genuine in who and where we stand on issues. I think that was a good presentation.”

Rassi also supported the administration’s choice to interview Cameron rather than have him speak directly to the audience. Rassi said this made it easier for students to get to know the inductee.

“I liked how they had the interview section, which was more abnormal,” said Rassi. “I think it was a good opportunity for him to kind of let his guard down and us to kind of get to know him a little better and know where he stands.”

Clarkson shared similar sentiments.

“I thought it was interesting,” said Clarkson, since last year’s inductee “only gave us a sermon.”

“Cameron talking to us probably wouldn’t have been the best thing,” Clarkson added. “There are a lot of students who are wary of him and who would have tuned out to a lecture. I liked that they interviewed him instead, because that’s how we’re used to seeing Kirk Cameron, being interviewed.”

Clarkson said that, otherwise, the ceremony “felt a lot like last year’s.”

Michael Bratt is a freshman media design major at IWU. With nothing to compare the ceremony, unlike Clarkson, this is what he had to say: “I didn’t think it was boring. Well, I did kind of fall asleep almost, it wasn’t boring. I was just waiting for something special to happen, like he didn’t give a speech or anything.”

For students like Bratt, the ceremony was more like a show.

Clarkson, too, noted showy parts of the ceremony like the introductory and closing prayers.

“I’ve never liked the whole idea of a scripted prayer,” said Clarkson, “and they scripted it. I don’t know why, I guess they don’t trust someone to do an impromptu prayer.”

Aside from this, though, Clarkson thought overall that the ceremony was “formal, quick-to-the-point, and well done.”

In addition to the 1,873 students who scanned into the event, the audience was comprised of an unknown number of other students, community members, staff, faculty and administrators.

Related Stories:
Honoring Cameron: 2012 World Changer inducted
Honoring Cameron: First to receive Presidential Citation

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Guest Column: President Henry Smith on Kirk Cameron

Kirk Cameron: IWU’s Society of World Changers Inductee

I am always eager to hear from people who feel as passionately as I do about Indiana Wesleyan University. The insightful conversations I have with members of our worldwide community often strengthen and sharpen me. Recently, many have spoken to us about our selection of actor Kirk Cameron as the latest inductee into IWU’s Society of World Changers.

Be assured that the committee chose Mr. Cameron because of his dedication to using the gifts and resources God has given him as a platform to share the message of Christ in Hollywood and throughout the world. We also appreciate his numerous efforts to serve others, such as his Camp Firefly ministry to seriously ill children and their families. Mr. Cameron has been and continues to be a great illustration of the challenge Jesus offered for each of us to be “salt and light” in our world.

IWU created the Society of World Changers nearly 10 years ago as a place to honor those who act as salt and light in secular professions. Inspired by Bob Briner’s “Roaring Lambs,“ we wanted to honor those who work in areas that some do not consider “full-time Christian service.” Inductees are not selected because of their doctrinal purity or because of a body of scholarship. Instead, they are chosen because they have given voice to a Christian worldview in a bold and decisive way on a national or international stage. Our selections are not always universally accepted, and the choice of Mr. Cameron has provoked many thoughtful and valuable responses.

Generous donors, led by Dr. Lyle Reed, former chairman of the board of trustees, and his wife, Nell, have provided the funding for the Society of World Changers. In fact, as of this past October, the Society of World Changers is a fully funded, endowed program, which means no IWU funds are used. We are very grateful for Dr. Reed’s vision and commitment to the Society of World Changers.

The Society of World Changers inductees are chosen by a six-member committee that reviews nominations made from respected Christian colleagues. Often the nominees are suggested by previous Society of World Changer inductees. We welcome nominees from everyone – especially students.

As with all programs at IWU, we will continue to review our processes and procedures to insure the best possible nominees for the Society of World Changers and the fulfillment of the purpose envisioned by the creation of this select group of individuals. Some have suggested that we add others to the selection committee, especially an IWU student. We will be considering these suggestions when we next meet.

I want to thank everyone who feels passionately enough about IWU and the Society of World Changers to share their concerns, hopes and questions. I ask for your prayers in the days ahead and look forward to the upcoming convocation. And, I ask that you will attend the Society of World Changers Convocation with an open mind and respectfully listen to Kirk Cameron’s ideas and seek to understand his spirit.


Henry Smith
Indiana Wesleyan University

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