The first of three events to honor Dr. Julius Jenkins for his 25 years as president of Concordia College, Selma, Ala., took place May 6 at the school.
Some 350 guests — including Selma city officials and residents; Concordia faculty, staff, current students, and former students; family and friends — attended the gala for Jenkins, who escaped poverty to become a college president and Lutheran minister.
Banquet speaker Dr. William Diekelman, LCMS first vice president, compared Jenkins to Dr. Martin Luther King.
“Like King, [Jenkins] had the right blend of passion and compassion to make a difference in the world, to `help somebody,'” Diekelman said. “Like King, he came here credentialed, first and foremost, by the Holy Ghost, with the gift of leadership.”
Jenkins, who became president of Concordia, Selma, in 1980, has seen enrollment quadruple — from about 200 back then to more than 900 last fall. He has presided over two successful development appeals which brought in $19 million — $5 million more than their combined goals — for land acquisition, new buildings and equipment, scholarships, and the school’s endowment. A third campaign — with the theme “Expanding the Circle” and a goal of raising $12 million for the school’s endowment, scholarships, technology development, and capital improvements — will continue for the next four years.
In an October 2002 Lutheran Witness profile, Jenkins said growing up poor in tiny Pine Apple, Ala., has given him “understanding and appreciation” for the backgrounds of Concordia, Selma, students — many come from families with annual incomes of less than $15,000.
His mission — and the school’s — is to make college accessible and affordable to everyone. “Nobody will graduate from this institution owing a penny,” he said in the article.
Diekelman congratulated Jenkins for confronting:
- “squarely the poverty problem, knowing that the best anti-poverty program is a good education.”
- “honestly the spiritual confusion in our nation, by stressing the Lutheran core focus of God’s grace.”
- “courageously our church body’s need for more ethnic and racial diversity, by producing quality church workers from all nations, for all nations.”
- “enthusiastically our occasional Lutheran lapse into lackluster, lukewarm witnessing by providing us with a collegiate prototype of what it means to be Ablaze!”
Jenkins also will be recognized July 23, during a Black-ministry conference sponsored by the Synod’s Southern and Mid-South Districts in Kenner, La., and on Aug. 10, during the opening worship service of the 2005-06 academic year at Concordia, Selma.
Posted July 11, 2005