Press Releases

Posted: September 29, 2016

On Saturday, September 24, HIU's 2016 Spirit of Hope Concert & Awards Gala hosted more than 550 guests in the Disneyland Hotel’s Grand Ballroom for a sparkling evening of celebration, inspiration, and philanthropy. This year, the University’s annual signature event raised over $170,000 toward student scholarships, highlighting the merger with Nebraska Christian College, and honoring individuals and organizations that exemplify the “Spirit of Hope.”

The Spirit of Hope Award was presented to Stanley Fulton via video. Fulton’s generous contributions funded the construction of the Lawson-Fulton Student Center, the central hub of the Fullerton campus. Mr. Fulton is recognized as a self-made man, but his generosity is born of the belief that he owes “the man up there”. His philanthropy extends to numerous organizations, including his church; a number of educational institutions; and non-profits. Most recently he has contributed a total of $700,000 to the University’s Ignite Hope Campaign, making his cumulative HIU contributions over $7.2 million.

Bill Nelson (BS ’12, MA ‘13) received the Distinguished Alumni Award, based on his servant leadership through Fresh Beginnings Ministries (FBM), a non-profit organization founded by Mr. Nelson himself. The ministry serves six different denominations and fourteen ministry organizations, assisting with food service for 450 to 800 people per week and providing clothing to 12 family ministries. Bill published the Life Support Team Manual in 2014, which he uses to train volunteer mentors who work with various individuals including those experiencing homelessness, those facing addiction and recovery, and families who receive housing, coaching them to self-sufficiency in their new journey.

Alumni Luke (BA ’11) and Tawny (BA ’11) P. (last name removed to protect individuals' safety in overseas missions)  received HIU’s Distinguished Young Alumni Award. The couple operates an adventure tourism business in Southeast Asia, reaching out to the predominately Muslim community through the Business as Mission model, brought to HIU by Professor Neal Johnson. Each year, the business team partners with short-term volunteers and volunteer groups from churches and colleges, all of whom share Luke and Tawny's passion to represent Christ.

Newbury Park First Christian Church and Christian Church of Thousand Oaks received Supporting Church Awards. Both churches are diligent supporters of HIU, both financially and through their recruitment of church members to attend the University.  They also share HIU’s passion for service, delivering robust missions programs to their own communities and around the globe.

The University also posthumously honored Gertrude Atwood-Wittenberg with the Philanthropic Award. Gertrude and her husband Elmer “Fritz” Wittenberg’s commitment to Christ and the Christian Church led them to leave provision in their estate for both Nebraska Christian College and Hope International University, unknowingly foreshadowing the merge of the two colleges. Nephew Duane Rankin and niece Carol Bremer and her husband Don accepted the award on behalf of Gertrude.

“This evening’s award recipients exemplify Hope’s mission through their servant leadership,” said Michael Mulryan, Vice President for Institutional Advancement.  “It is HIU’s honor to be connected to each of them, and to express our gratitude for their vital partnership and support.”

Guests were entertained and inspired by All Things New, an up-and-coming Christian band. The group’s songwriting inspiration stems from their personal trials in childhood and young adulthood, which have molded and shaped their lives, careers, and relationships with God. The HIU Praise Choir and Praise Team also performed during the evening’s festivities, under the direction of Tom Brooks and Dr. Joseph Cho.