NPU to Award Honorary Degrees to Two Individuals

Post a Comment » Written on April 18th, 2007     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (April 18, 2007) – North Park University will present honorary degrees during its commencement services on May 12 to two individuals who have contributed to the cause of advancing the gospel.

LeRoy Johnson (top photo) has benefited people around the world by matching potential donors with their desire to further the work of Christ through the ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church and North Park University. He will be honored with a Doctor of Divinity degree.

JohnsonCordy Tindell (C. T.) Vivian was an associate of Martin Luther King, Jr. who made national headlines by standing up to the sheriff of Selma, Alabama, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement (lower photo). He recently founded Churches Helping Churches, an organization that helps provide relief work for victims of Hurricane Katrina. He will be honored with a Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Johnson is a 1954 graduate of North Park Junior College and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. After graduating from North Park Theological Seminary in 1960, he served as pastor of the Lily Lake Covenant Church in Elgin, Illinois.

From 1963 to 1965, he served as assistant director of development for the university and was promoted to chief development officer, a position he held from 1965 to 1978. In the first year under his direction, alumni contributions doubled. He also is credited with resurrecting North Park’s planned giving program and, in 1967, he organized the President’s Club.

From October 1978 to October 1995, Johnson served the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) as its first executive director of Estate Planning Services, coordinating the estate planning programs of the denomination, Covenant benevolent institutions, and North Park University. In 1988, Covenant Trust Company was founded and Johnson was named its first president. He served in this capacity until 1995, when he was named president emeritus.

Johnson is a member of the ECC Ministerium and the Chicago Estate Planning Council. He has contributed his expertise to various not-for-profit boards. Johnson and his wife, Carole, live in Glenview, Illinois, and attend North Park Covenant Church in Chicago. They have two children and six grandchildren.

VivianVivian has promoted the cause of civil rights since he participated in his first sit-in demonstration in 1947 that successfully integrated Barton’s Cafeteria in Peoria, Illinois. At the time, he was recreation director for the Carver Community Center in the city, his first job after graduating from Western Illinois University in Macomb.

In 1959, while studying for the ministry at American Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee, Vivian met Pastor James Lawson, who was teaching Mahatma Ghandhi’s nonviolent direct action strategy to the Student Central Committee. Vivian and other students conducted a non-violent campaign that eventually led to 4,000 demonstrators marching on City Hall, where Mayor Ben West conceded that racial discrimination was morally wrong.

Many of the students became part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. (SNCC). In 1961, Vivian was a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and participated in Freedom Rides, replacing injured members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

Vivian was appointed to the executive staff of the SCLC in 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., named him national director of affiliates. Two years later, in an incident that would make national news, Vivian confronted Sheriff Jim Clark on the steps of the Selma Courthouse during a voter registration drive. After an impassioned speech by Vivian, Clark struck him on the mouth.

The assault was one of many televised outrages that generated support for passing the Voting Rights Act. However, Vivian also sees the event in terms of the personal impact of Gandhi and King’s philosophy of nonviolent direct action. “I would never run from anybody,” he says. “That’s one reason why I love nonviolence.”

In 1969, Vivian wrote Black Power and the American Myth, an early influential book on the modern-day Civil Rights Movement. During these years, he also started the Vision program that helped send Alabama students to college. The program later came to be known as Upward Bound. By 1979, Vivian had organized and was serving as chairman of the board of the National Anti-Klan Network, which is known today as the Center for Democratic Renewal.

Vivian is the founder of the Black Action Strategies and Information Center (BASIC), a workplace consultancy on race relations and multicultural training. Vivian recently launched the organization Churches Supporting Churches that responds to needs of the victims and churches affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Commencement exercises will be conducted at 10 a.m. on May 12 in the North Park University gymnasium.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog