2021 Golf Tournament Honors SC Clergy Leader, Supports Access to Higher Education for African Students

Golfers from South Carolina and across the nation are preparing to converge on the Orangeburg Country Club on September 27th  for the 8th annual Bishop L. Jonathan Holston Golf Invitational (BLJHGI) Benefiting Africa University.

This year, the charity event—an initiative of South Carolina United Methodists—has a dual focus.

Golfers and friends will gather, as usual, for a day of friendly competition and fellowship. Their gathering will raise funds to support scholarships and other needs at United Methodist-related Africa University in Zimbabwe, southern Africa.

In 2020, the tournament raised more than $35,000 to assist Africa University students and help South Carolina United Methodists meet their annual budget commitment. All 12 United Methodists districts invested and fielded teams in the tournament.

Wespath Institutional Investments, a unit of Wespath Benefits and Investments—the largest reporting faith-based pension fund in the United States—is the tournament’s lead sponsor for a third consecutive year. 

"We are pleased to support Africa University's vision to improve life, peace, and prosperity through higher education," said Joe Halwax, Wespath Institutional Investments' managing director, Institutional Investment Relationships. "Wespath too seeks to drive social change by empowering sustainability through investments on a global scale while stewarding our investors' assets responsibly. Together with like-minded partners like Africa University, we can continue to elevate this work and ensure a better future for generations to come."

Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter, the ranking Democrat in the South Carolina House of Representatives, serving District 66 in Orangeburg County since 1992, is a major sponsor of the tournament. Cobb-Hunter, a friend of Africa University, sees wide-ranging benefits to the local community.

“I have been a supporter of Africa University and Jim Salley (an Orangeburg native and chief advancement officer for Africa University) from the inception of the institution,” said Cobb-Hunter. “It is vital that persons in the Orangeburg community and the State of South Carolina have a world view and assist others less fortunate than we are. This golf tournament brings persons to the community that normally would not visit or pass through. It is a natural venue. The Orangeburg Country Club has the facilities and history for a national event like this. The economic impact to the City of Orangeburg and the county is also a tremendous help to the local community.”

In addition to investing in Africa University, golfers will also use their time together this September to pay special tribute to a lifelong Methodist and dedicated fellow tournament participant. The Rev. John Wesley Hipp died on October 27, barely one month after taking part in the 2020 tournament. He consistently supported the tournament, from its launch in 2013 at the Cobblestone Golf Course in Blythewood, SC.

Rev. Mitch Houston and Rev. John Hipp with tournament patron, Bishop Jonathan Holston, Mr. James Salley and golf team mates.The Rev. Mitch Houston of Bethany United Methodist Church-Summerville was Hipp’s college roommate and lifelong friend.

 “I speak for his family and friends in saying we miss his laughter and warm smile every day,” said Houston. “John loved the game of golf. We played many rounds and tournaments together. A great memory I have is the last time he and I played was at the Africa University tournament at Orangeburg Country Club. I am blessed that we will start a scholarship in his memory.”

Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, the resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference and tournament patron, remembers Hipp’s gift for connecting with people.

“From the pulpit to the conference room to the golf course, John could find common ground from which to begin meaningful and humorous dialogue that furthered God’s kingdom here on earth,” said Holston. “John leaves a legacy that challenges each of us to continue the work of building bridges and strengthening relationships that reflect the goodness of God’s creation.”

Hipp’s pastoral ministry spanned four decades. It included 28 years as a chaplain in the South Carolina National Guard. Hipp retired a Lieutenant Colonel in 2008, and held ministerial appointments in Aiken, Wagner, Rock Hill, Saluda, Chapin, Conway, and Charleston.

After 32 years in the pulpit, Hipp became superintendent of the Orangeburg District in 2010. Two years later, the bishop added responsibility for the Florence District. Hipp guided church life and growth and shepherded the pastors in these two districts eight years before retiring in 2018.

Mention of John Hipp among those who knew him immediately triggers reminiscing about his humor, love for people, and of course, food.

“John Hipp knew all of the best eating establishments in Orangeburg and Florence...John cared about food because it was a way to nurture the soul and depths of human relationships,” said Rev. Ken Nelson, superintendent of the Orangeburg District. 

“The Orangeburg District is a place where authentic relationships and encounters happen around food and a table,” said Nelson.  “Some may see it just as a meal, but I understand that work as “soul food.” It is often a starting point for tending to the soul! We learned that from John. “

Fellow superintendent, Rev. Timothy Rogers of the Marion District, is looking forward to sharing stories in September with others who knew, loved, and respected John Hipp. He recalls the joy that Hipp brought to life. “People followed John because they knew he cared deeply,” said Rogers.

Following a visit to the Africa University campus in February 2020, Rogers and Marion District-based pastor Rev. J. Elbert Williams launched an effort to endow a scholarship. Now, organizers are earmarking a portion of the proceeds from the 2021 Bishop L. Jonathan Holston Golf Invitational for that effort.

“We are grateful for the help we are receiving from the Holston Golf Invitational as we establish the Marion District Scholarship Endowment for Africa University,” Rogers said.  “The endowment is an opportunity to invest in new leaders for Africa and extend the reach of the love of Christ on the continent.”

Hipp’s Orangeburg connections and church network, the community engagement, and support, and the attributes of the Orangeburg Country Club have the event organizers and sponsors predicting a sold-out tournament this September.

“We are accessible to I-95 and I-26,” noted JP Waldron, the club’s golf professional. “Our facilities and amenities also allow us to cater to the event’s every need…Since hosting the tournament here at Orangeburg Country Club, fundraising has achieved new heights, thanks to the golfers who play in the event, and the businesses who have stepped up with their sponsorships.”

“It is very exciting that the City of Orangeburg was chosen for this tournament, said Mike Butler, Orangeburg City Mayor. “ We always enjoy having individuals visiting our City to see what we have to offer. We hope these individuals will take time to visit not only the Country Club’s golf course, but also other parts of the City as well.  We appreciate the added revenue that will be brought into the City of Orangeburg from this tournament and we welcome visitors from Africa University.”

The Bishop L. Jonathan Holston Golf Invitational (BLJHGI) takes place on Monday, September 27, 2021, at the Orangeburg Country Club.

_________________________________________

Are you interested in playing in or sponsoring the BLJHGI? Visit the event overview for additional details or email the event contact, Rev. Robert Harper, at robert@knightsvilleumc.org. You can also reach out to the Africa University Development Office at audevoffice@gbhem.org or via telephone at (615) 340-7438. For information on the various sponsorship levels and benefits, visit the BLJHGI sponsor's page. Or, to register a team, go to the BLJHGI registration page.

About Africa University: Africa University—a pan-African higher education ministry of The United Methodist Church—will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2022. The university opened in 1992 with 40 students from six African countries. It now has an annual full-time enrolment of 2,400 students representing as many as 30 of Africa’s 55 nations. Degree programs as well as short courses are offered in three colleges: Health, Agriculture & Natural Sciences; Business, Peace, Leadership & Governance; and Social Sciences, Theology, Humanities and Education. More than 90 percent of Africa University’s 8,000 alumni have remained on the continent of Africa. Graduates are at work and in leadership roles in more than 32 African countries as well as in countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America and North America. The university’s main campus is located near Mutare, in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe.

For more about Africa University, visit: www.africau.edu and www.support-africauniversity.org

Download a copy of the media release here.

 

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2017

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2016

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New Academic Structure

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SC Gala Raises Funds for Scholarships

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California-Nevada Sets New Record in Giving to the AUF

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The 24-room Ubuntu Retreat Center at Africa University is open and it is receiving great guest reviews. Read more

2015

Record Results for Planned Giving Program

Africa University recognized 21 individuals for their generosity and commitment to the institution at the 15th annual Richard E. “Dick” Reeves Legacy Society Dinner, held on September 11th in Nashville, TN. About 120 friends and supporters of the university gathered to remember, honor and induct new members into the society in an evening filled with celebration, thanksgiving and delight. Read more

Attracting Africa's Young Leaders

More than 380 young people participated in the 2015 matriculation ceremony at Africa University (AU), on September 25th. The colorful ceremony is the formal induction and welcome into the campus community for the freshman class of 2015. Read more

Record Numbers for the Class of 2015

On June 13, Africa University awarded degrees to 694 students from 17 African countries. This group was the largest graduating class in the institution’s 23-year history. Read more

Choir Tour Yields Excitement and Support

Over a period of five weeks in May/June, the Africa University Choir worshipped and performed in more than 50 venues in the Mississippi and South Carolina conferences. Fifteen students from six African countries shared their stories, expressed their gratitude for the ongoing United Methodist Church support, and gave audiences a taste of the music, praise and worship traditions of sub-Saharan Africa. Read more

Foundation for evangelism announces new campaign for au

Mutare, Zimbabwe, March 21, 2015—The Foundation for Evangelism has announced that it is launching a campaign with Africa University to endow a professorship in the Faculty of  Theology. The chair, which is to be endowed at the $1.5M level, would be named for John W. Z. Kurewa, the first vice chancellor of the university, who has served as the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Africa University since 2000.

Four members of the foundation's board of directors—its chairman, Mr. Lawrence Klemann; members, Ms. Mary Brooke Casad and Dr. Stephen Gunter; and its president, Ms. Jane Wood—were present in Zimbabwe for the inauguration of the university's fourth vice chancellor, Prof. Munashe Furusa. The foundation's announcement was the highlight of the inaugural dinner, held on March 21st.

Africa University's new leader: 'Right kind of role model'

Africa University’s vice chancellor has “a rags-to-riches story” as a first-generation college graduate, said the keynote speaker at the inauguration of Munashe Furusa, the United Methodist-related university’s new leader.

“It is a rags-to-riches story when no one in your family has done it and you reach the top of the university,” said Tawana Kupe, deputy vice chancellor at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kupe was a mentor when Furusa was a student at the University of Zimbabwe. Read more

campus visit exceeds expectations

Ask the members of Holman United Methodist Church about their December 2014 trip to the AU campus, and you’ll immediately notice their excitement.

A 24-person delegation made the trip to Mutare, Zimbabwe. The group was led by Rev. Kelvin Sauls, the senior pastor of the Los Angeles-based congregation, and Rev. Judi Wortham- Sauls. Their aim for the trip was to build faith, broaden horizons and invite congregants to ‘be hope’ wherever they find themselves. The group included many persons who have been investing in AU for a very long time.

“The visit to AU really exceeded any expectations that I may have had,” said Mrs. Wilma Pinder, a retired lawyer and former college lecturer. Now Mrs. Pinder and her husband, Dr. Frank E. Pinder III, a psychiatrist, are talking about the possibility of going back as short-term, visiting professors. The Pinders were impressed by the well-maintained and inviting nature of the campus as well as the diversity of the students.

Sandrel and Edward Terry with students on the campus.“To get there and experience so many nations under one umbrella really was an exciting situation,” said Mrs. Pinder. “It allows for learning, sharing, personal growth and networking that is unique.”

After spending time in a very frank and wide-ranging dialogue with more than 100 students, Rev. Sauls felt buoyed by the students’ commitment to pursuing stability and prosperity for Africa.

“We could see how AU is building these young people’s faith in God, in themselves, and in the continent,” said Sauls. “So many of them come from challenging situations that have likely shaken their faith in governments and institutions. Yet there is a sense of hope the students have…a conviction that if you dream it, you can work, persevere, and achieve it.”

Wilma Pinder echoed this view. “We will see every dollar we invest in AU multiplied a thousand times in terms of the returns,” she said.

Linda Fuller, a retired businessperson, was impressed to find that young people who had never travelled outside their neighborhoods or countries before coming to Africa University, are embracing the institution’s pan-African ethos and moving forward with a hopeful and unified vision for the continent. Fuller described the experience on campus as “wonderful”.

Since their return from Africa, members of the group have thrown themselves into organizing Holman UMC’s annual Valentine’s Day fundraiser for scholarship funds to support AU students.

Alumna and Holman UMC scholarship beneficiary, Elaine Sauls, with Dr. Edward Terry.While the group was in South Africa, they met Elaine Sauls, a Holman UMC scholarship beneficiary from 2007 through 2009. Sauls, who grew up in Soweto, graduated from AU in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts (Education) degree. She is now teaching at an elementary school in her home community.

“She is very interesting and very appreciative of what we had done for her,” said Dr. Edward Terry, a member of Holman UMC who serves with Wilma Pinder and others on the church’s Africa University Committee.

In August 2015, Holman UMC hopes to accompany a new student on his or her college journey by providing another scholarship for undergraduate studies at Africa University.

ELMA Foundation Extends Challenge Grant to June 30th, 2015

Africa University has an additional six months to close a gap of $138K+ in gifts and reach its goal of $500,000 raised from African donors.

Launched on March 1st, 2013, the goal of the ELMA Challenge Grant Appeal, “Africans for AU”, is $500,000 in gifts from qualified African donors. It was initially scheduled to end in June 2014, but ELMA has extended the challenge period to June, 30th, 2015.

The extension gives AU the chance to bring in an additional $138K+ in gifts from those who benefit most—African families, churches, businesses and organizations.

“The beauty of the ELMA Foundation’s Challenge Grant is that it allows the institution’s primary stakeholders—graduates and local and regional constituents—to invest annually in the stability of the university,” said Mr. James H. Salley, the associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement.

“It enables Africa University to build capacity and provides an annual fund that is so critical to the bottom line of the university’s budget,” said Salley.

Every penny raised and vetted as a gift from an African donor is being matched by the ELMA Foundation. Audited gift receipts, totaling $361,433.79 to date, have already been matched. Gifts have come from a wide array of university stakeholders and friends, including alumni, students, faculty, staff, trustees, and United Methodist churches in Africa. African businesses, institutions and non-governmental organizations, as well as prominent individuals, have responded very generously, contributing more than 65% of the total amount raised so far.

Currently, the university needs $138,566.21 from African donors to reach its goal of $500K, but it hopes to go over the top on this appeal. 

Gifts to the “Africans for AU”/ELMA Challenge Grant Appeal can be made online via credit card at support-africauniversity.org. Or you can mail your check, made out to ‘Africa University’, to the Africa University Development Office, P O Box 340007, Nashville, TN 37203-0007. In Zimbabwe, please contact the Bursar/CFO, Ms. Irene Chibanda, (Tel: +263 20 60075 or +263 772 137 009), for directions regarding donation made by check or through ETFs.

Highland Park and Church of the Resurrection Leaders Visit AU

The leaders of two large and influential United Methodist churches in the U.S. spent a week (8-13 February) at the Africa University campus in Mutare, Zimbabwe, learning more about the institutions contributions and challenges. Read more

2014

BOARD APPROVES AU’S FIRST PHD PROGRAM

Board approval has cleared the way for the implementation of a PhD program in Peace, Leadership, Governance and Development at Africa University.

Members of the AU Board of Directors approved the university’s first PhD program at their October 2014 meeting. The program targets the more than 300 graduates who currently hold master’s degrees from the university’s flagship Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance, (IPLG), as well as policy makers, mediators and leaders from across sub-Saharan Africa.

“The integrated nature of the PhD program combines course work and evidence-based research (and) stands to serve Africa by reminding practitioners, scholars and students, that the drive for sustainable peace should be anchored on the vital priority of human development, peace and stability; and democratic governance and ethical leadership,” said Dr. Pamela Machakanja, the institute’s director.

The program is currently being reviewed for accreditation by the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (ZIMCHE). Once accredited, the university plans an initial pilot phase of two years. About five students will be enrolled each year, beginning in 2016.

AU named best by business leaders

Africa University is the 2014 winner of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, (ZNCC), Best Human Resource Development/Contributing to Business Award. Read more  

2014 graduates express thanks

view.image?Following the June 7th graduation ceremony at Africa University, the narrative of this year's graduates was one of gratitude and resolve. Read more