Class of 1972 Virtual Reunion: Celebrating The First Graduating Class

As a part of our 50th anniversary celebration, Missio was blessed to celebrate, honor and thank our first graduating class and communicate our excitement for the future.

The first graduating class of the Biblical Theological School, which was renamed Biblical Theological Seminary (BTS) in 1979, and in 2018 became Missio Seminary, gathered for a celebratory reunion in April 2021 via Zoom. Thom Skinner hosted the special event, Dr. David Lamb provided the official class welcome, Dr. Robert Newman opened in prayer, and we heard from the longest tenured faculty member Dr. Todd Mangum, Executive Vice President Charles Blachford, and alumni and students during this memorable occasion.
Read our Alumni Spotlight Below

The class was honored with a commemorative two-sided minted BTS and Missio coin that will be a special reminder of their role in our deep and rich history. All in attendance felt the powerful impact of this class along with the founding faculty and their spouses. Their faith, sacrifice and commitment to Jesus and His mission began the legacy at Missio we are enjoying now and into the future. We are standing on the shoulders of spiritual giants and these men and women continue to be spiritual pillars in our Missio community with the strong foundation of faith and labor that they established.

The Class of 1972 exemplifies these verses from 2 Corinthians 8:1-3 (NIV)

“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.”
“there is little wonder the founding faculty inspired such vigorous affection and loyalty among those they trained.”

    – Dr. Todd Mangum

May we all be inspired from these generous and joyful men and women who laid the foundation of Missio Seminary. This is reason to rejoice!

The event took place on April 14th and is captured in the video below titled CLASS of 1972 Reunion. For your viewing convenience, the event is also presented in short segments below.


1972 Class: Abram Derstine, Dr. David Dunbar, Dr. Robert Newman, Scott Souza, William Varner
Wives of Founding Faculty: Kathe Vannoy, Ruth Taylor
Founding Faculty: Dr. Gary Cohen (biblical studies) and Dr. John Grauley (counseling, practical theology), Dr. Robert Newman (New Testament)

This event took place online on April 14th, 12:15 PM. The entire event is captured in this video CLASS of 1972 Reunion.

For your convenience, our celebratory time together is presented in shorter segments below.

Official Welcome to the First Class Virtual Reunion: A 50th Anniversary Celebration Event – Dr. David Lamb, Dean of Faculty

Opening Prayer by Dr. Robert Newman, Sharing of a letter from Sherie Clark, Dr. Dunbar’s sharing of George Clark’s vision for the City

Reflections of Missio at Fifty – Through the Seasons by Dr. Todd Mangum

Welcome to Missio’s Urban Campus by Charles Blachford, Executive Vice President

Interview of Student and Alum Nicole Showell by Wendy Walters, Director of Student, Alumni and Church Relations

Honor this Class with a Commemorative Minted Coin by Dr. David Lamb, Announcements by Thom Skinner and Closing Blessing by Dr. Todd Mangum

Alumni Spotlight

Sung Ja Shinn holds many prestigious titles, but the one that we would like to celebrate during our 50th Anniversary is Member of the First Graduating Class of Biblical/Missio Seminary!

As the only female and foreign student in her class and at Biblical, Sung Ja exuded faith and courage. Though Missio was not accredited at the time of her studies, she trusted in the Lord for her Visa status to not be questioned or challenged, and the Lord provided. Because there was no on-campus housing, Sung Ja lived 15 minutes from the school without a vehicle, but the Lord provided a ride from a classmate every day.

Sung Ja has extremely fond memories of Missio. She recalls the solid and sound teachings from her favorite professor, Rev. Robert Dunzweiler and how Missio prepared her to teach at the largest theological college and seminary in Korea for 33 years. After retiring from Chong Shin University in 2008, she moved to Cape Town, South Africa as a missionary and founded Cape Town Biblical College in 2009. We are grateful and blessed by Sung Ja’s amazing story of following Jesus into the world and around the world!