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October 2, 2020

Waxahachie, TX | Tony Garza

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) announced the 2020 alumni award honorees this morning during Homecoming chapel.

The Association recognizes individuals each year for outstanding service and support of the university, as well as for their contributions and noteworthy success within their respective industry, vocation, or service. The Association currently confers up to six awards.

The highest award granted by the Alumni Association is named in honor of founding President, Dr. P.C. Nelson. This award is reserved for alumni who have achieved prominence in a particular service field and demonstrated outstanding loyalty and service to SAGU. This year, the university was honored to present two P.C. Nelson Distinguished Alumnus Awards.

P.C. Nelson Distinguished Alumnus Award

Dr. Gaylan Claunch

Dr. Claunch has served in full-time ministry for over 50 years and currently serves as the Superintendent for the North Texas District Council. He previously served for ten years as the Assistant Superintendent which included District Missions Director, Pastoral Care Director, and Director of the District School of Ministry.

In addition to his leadership at the District Council, he served as a Senior Pastor for 30 years in three pastorates located in Texas and Oklahoma, all of which he led in becoming strong missions churches.

He serves on the Board of Network 211 and Global University, Pleasant Hills Children’s Home, and the Executive Board of Regents for SAGU, his alma mater.

We couldn’t be more proud to refer to Dr. Claunch as an alumnus of this institution, and for his faithful service, the Alumni Association presented Dr. Gaylan Claunch the 2020 PC Nelson Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Dr. Denny & Sandy Miller

Dr. Denny and his wife, Sandy, lead the Acts in Africa Initiative (AIA), a ministry aimed at encouraging authentic Pentecostal and missional renewal in the more than 83,000 Assemblies of God churches in Africa. Denny also serves as team-leader for the Africa’s Hope Acts 1:8 Initiative.

Together, they have faithfully served as Assemblies of God (USA) missionaries to Africa since 1992. During this time they have been involved in pastoral training, church planting, missions mobilization, and Bible translation work. Denny served as academic dean for the College Division of the Assemblies of God School of Theology (AGST) in Lilongwe, Malawi. He also founded and led the Assemblies of God Extension School (AGXS) in Malawi. He has traveled extensively throughout Africa teaching and preaching in “Acts 1:8 Conferences,” “Schools of the Spirit,” and “Eleventh Hour Institutes.”

Denny has taught and preached in more than 38 African countries. Prior to becoming a missionary, he and Sandy pastored for 22 years in Colorado and Texas.

For their faithful service, the Alumni Association presented Dr. Denny and Sandy Miller the 2020 PC Nelson Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Distinguished Alumnus Service Award

The Distinguished Alumnus Service Award aims to highlight individuals from among the SAGU Alumni family who have shown great care for their Alma Mater, and who have demonstrated what it means to be a “Lion for Life.”

John Ashbrook

John Ashbrook attended Southwestern in 1966. Although he later pursued a Civil Engineering degree from Louisiana Tech, Southwestern has always had a special place in his heart. It was here that he met Ramona Burk. They wed in June of 1967 and were married for 48 years. John later started a scholarship at SAGU in Ramona’s honor awarded to a pastor’s daughter each year.

In 1971, John started his company Ashbrook Contractors and continued to work in construction and engineering since. For decades, he also utilized his aptitude for construction and building to serve in missions. He has either led or participated in over 25 building trips to Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti, Thailand, and the Philippines. All the while, he has faithfully served as a member of multiple boards and committees, including the National Royal Ranger Council, the Light for the Lost National Board, the World Missions Board, and SAGU’s Board of Regents.

Southwestern has truly been blessed with John’s wisdom and discernment as a board member over the last 12 years and his sincere commitment to this institution. For his faithful service, the Alumni Association presented John Ashbrook with the Distinguished Alumnus Service award.

Distinguished Faculty Award

The Distinguished Faculty Award is bestowed upon a faculty member in recognition of notable service in his/her academic field, community, state, nation, or exceptional performance in the classroom.

Dr. Paula Manley

Dr. Manley has served in SAGU’s Teacher Education program for over twenty years.  Before joining the SAGU faculty, Dr. Manley taught elementary school, and later served as Elementary School Principal for Trinity Christian School in Cedar Hill, Texas, where she currently serves on the school board.  In addition to her role as a faculty, Dr. Manley also serves as sponsor for Student Congress and as Director for South Dallas Royal Family Kids.  She considers the opportunity to teach SAGU students as her greatest honor and privilege.

For her faithful service, the Alumni Association presented Dr. Paula Manley with the 2020 Distinguished Faculty Award.

Outstanding Young Alumnus for Vocational Ministry

The Alumni Association honors young alumni who exemplify the spirit and vision of SAGU in their ministry calling.

Robert Purvey

Robert Purvey is an FCA Character Coach to several high school athletic departments across the area; he has been honored as “Character Coach of the Year” for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and he is a mentor in over 5 school districts across the DFW metroplex earning over 5 “mentor of the year” awards. Purvey serves as a member of the City of Arlington speakers bureau, and he works faithfully with several shelters and prevention programs in the DFW Metroplex. Purvey is the host of “Real Teen Talk” a weekly radio show geared towards raising social and spiritual awareness in the lives of teenagers, leaders, and parents.

Over the past decade, Purvey has built one of the most consistent and solid youth and young adult ministries by creating and implementing cutting edge and innovative ministries. His ability to motivate people to maximize their full potential has changed lives across the nation.

For his faithful service, the Alumni Association presented Robert Purvey the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award for Vocational Ministry.

Outstanding Young Alumnus for Marketplace Ministry

Each year, the Alumni Association honors young alumni who stand out among their peers, and in their vocation, as examples of the spirit and vision of SAGU.

Robien Christie

Robien graduated from SAGU in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Business Marketing. After graduating, Robien led the marketing organization at VAR Technology Finance, where he rebranded the company and provided support for private label finance programs. After receiving a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Southern Methodist University in 2015, Robien was selected to participate in a post-MBA leadership development program at American Airlines, where he rotated through Revenue Management, Airport Operations and Corporate Planning departments. During his time at American, Robien was recognized for his contributions as a recipient of the American Airlines Cargo All-Star Award and the Butler Award for Servant Leadership. Following a brief period consulting Fortune 500 clients on Customer Strategy with Deloitte Consulting, he recently returned to join the Corporate Development team at American Airlines to lead initiatives to improve liquidity and manage investment opportunities.

During his time at SAGU, Robien was the Vice President of Student Congress and a student worker in the Career Development office. He believes that the strong friendships he made, the quality of his academic experience and the leadership opportunities he was given at SAGU have been significant contributors to his personal and career success.

For his faithful service, the Alumni Association presented Robien Christie the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award for Marketplace Ministry.

MTEN Mission Award

Mission TEN (To Every Nation) is an initiative at SAGU to pray, proclaim the gospel, and send workers to every nation on earth. Mission TEN’s commitment began in 2008 with hopes to place a mission team on the ground in every nation of the world within ten years of its initial launch. Since its launch, SAGU students have answered the call to serve all over the globe including areas in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia.

The Mission TEN Award is a special award given this year due to the recent completion of this 10-year missions initiative.

Joshua Rodriguez

Joshua graduated from SAGU in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Ministry and a M.A. in counseling in 2013. Today, Joshua and his family serve in full-time missions.

Reflecting on his experience as a student at SAGU, Joshua remembers how God led him to missions after attending a World Prayer Meeting on campus. He later went on to serve as the President of the Student Missions Association (SMA). During his presidency, the Mission TEN initiative was first launched and through his administrative role, he was able to help oversee and develop the training for student mission trip leaders. Throughout his collegiate career, Joshua shares how God carefully orchestrated his steps directing him towards missions.

Today, Joshua believes that simple acts of willingness and obedience is what God used to lead him and his family to where He wanted them. And looking back on his time with Mission TEN, he shares, “The heart behind MTEN wasn’t to check countries off a list – it was to open our eyes to the nations.”

For his outstanding service, the Alumni Association, on behalf of Mission TEN, presented Joshua Rodriguez with the MTEN Mission Award.

As a leading Christian university, SAGU educates and prepares individuals who want to serve Christ and others. SAGU helps students discover and develop their God-given callings in a Spirit-empowered, learning community.

We believe in affordable tuition, made possible in part through the financial support of donors who embrace the mission of SAGU and the importance of affordable, accredited programs to train Christians for leadership in ministry, business, education, and service.

Most majors are available in-person in Waxahachie, TX, and online through a wide range of associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

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