Eighty children filled the Mid-America Christian University gym for the first Thunder Youth Camp of the season the week of June 6. The camp allowed children to practice basketball skills and to meet NBA Thunder favorites including star player Kendrick Perkins, Thunder girls and mascot Rumble.
The diverse group of athletes ranged in age from 5 to 16, from many ethnic backgrounds and with varying degrees of basketball experience. Two children in wheelchairs worked alongside other athletes.
The camp focused on teaching basketball skills and encouraging character development. Students were encouraged to pursue their dreams through hard work, teamwork, persistence and fairness.
Perkins talked to the children about his challenges as a child, and about how making good choices can shape their futures.
The Thunder Youth Basketball Camp at Mid-America was the first of six week-long summer camps running now through August in the Oklahoma City area.
Friend Establishes Scholarship to Honor His Life
Maurice Carter, a well-known Nashville vocalist and musician, is presumed to have died June 3. The 43-year-old, who graduated from Mid-America in 1991 with a bachelor of science in music performance, was found in his truck in Nashville on June 5. News reports speculate he might have been driving to the hospital when he died. An investigation is pending, but the death appears to be from natural causes.
Carter traveled with Wynonna Judd and with The Judds as a backup singer for as many as 100 performances a year. He also taught vocal clinics, wrote and performed praise music, recorded back-up vocals and sang regularly with his church choir.
Elizabeth Cox was a friend and classmate of Carter's at Mid-America. She toured churches across the country with him in a trio in the 1990s.
"He had a wonderful personality. You knew he cared about you once you met him," Cox said. "He was genuine. The teachers and staff respected him. And I felt privileged to perform with him because he was such a wonderful person and a wonderful singer."
Fellow alum Marc Adams is working with MACU to establish a scholarship fund in Carter's name to help young musicians. Carter mentored Adams when the two were at Mid-America. Adams is the Worship Pastor at the First Church of God in Hutchinson, Kansas.
"Maurice had perhaps the biggest influence on my life, besides my parents," Adams said. "But his influence goes way beyond me. We'd be hard pressed to find another Mid-America grad who's had a bigger impact than Maurice."
To contribute to the fund, call Chris Burton at 405.692.3191.
Below is a feature story about Maurice Carter that was published in the most recent issue of The Mid-American magazine.
Professional Vocalist Maurice Carter Recalls Mid-America Music Training
Maurice Carter doesn't travel like the rest of us. The Mid-America alum and backup vocalist sings 70 to 100 concert dates a year. He works with country music star Wynonna Judd when she is solo, and when she and her mother perform as The Judds. He is on the road with 25 or more people.
Carter sings late into the evening and leaves the stage full of adrenaline and exhausted. He's then off to a customized bus or an airplane to doze while riding to the next city.
"Often, we fly in to a town, and the bus picks us up," Carter said. "We'll drive to a hotel and check in at nine in the morning. Then we have a mid-day sound check and by afternoon we've checked out. We're just there to shower, change our clothes, and we're out. That's the routine I'm used to."
"I love travelling with Wynonna. It's a lot of fun," Carter said, "but when I get back home, I sleep a lot. I have a wonderful family who keeps me healthy to get right back out there and go again. It's a job."
Carter lives in Nashville where he is immersed in the music business. He leads singing and writing clinics, collaborates with lyricists, records background vocals for various artists and sings backup vocals for Travis Cottrell during worship at Beth Moore events. Through the years, he has sung backup at live events with Donna Summer and Alvin Slaughter and has recorded background vocals with Natalie Grant, American Idol's Melinda Doolittle and Mandisa among others. Brooklyn's Christ Tabernacle Choir has recorded his songs.
When Carter was growing up in San Jose, California in the 1970s, he could not have imagined the life he now lives.
"As a pastor's son, you're doing everything from cleaning the bathrooms to vacuuming the floors," Carter said. "That's where I found my love of music - singing in church choir and at youth conventions. That's the story of lots of preacher's kids."
When Carter was 15, his family moved to Kansas City, Kansas where his father was called to pastor the Third Street Church of God. Although he worshiped in a predominately black church in central California, his school friends represented many ethnic backgrounds. Kansas City, Kansas, however, was clearly divided.
"It was such a shock. My first day in school in Kansas City, I came home and said, "Mom, everybody's black."
When he went to Mid-America in 1986, Carter faced another surprise.
"I didn't know anything at all about integration in the church until I went to Mid-America," Carter said. "At Mid-America in the 1980s, there were only a handful of black students. One student said to me, 'I've got to be honest with you - you are the first black person I've ever met.' We became good friends and laughed about it later. So when I hear that 22 percent of Mid-America students are now African-American, it's awesome to me."
Despite the early cultural challenges, the vocal performance and Bible major quickly made new friends and revealed myriad musical styles.
"I was so used to gospel music only. When I got to Mid-America, I started studying opera and foreign languages. I started learning the art of music, and it changed my life. I heard a Beethoven piece sung by Pavarotti, and I felt I was in another world. I remember the first time I heard Sandi Patti sing a duet with Larnelle Harris. That was totally different than my background."
"I was singing; I was playing the piano; I was leading in chapel. It was the best time of my life. The school was so new the professors were letting us experiment as much as we wanted to. They wanted to try things that were fresh and new to the church."
During his four years at Mid-America, Carter travelled across the country, singing with musical groups in churches, staying in homes, telling teenagers about the college and learning his craft.
After graduation, he was a worship facilitator and a pastor to young adults in the Oklahoma City area and in Nashville churches. He traveled with the singing group, His Own, comprised of former Mid-America students.
Then, when he was a staff member at Nashville's Christ Church, Wynonna Judd heard him perform with the choir and invited him to join her tour.
He credits much of his work ethic and success to the advice he received from Music Department Chairman Dr. Robert Adams, Assistant Professor Dr. Juanita Adams and his vocal Mid-America vocal coach, Dr. Ray Ballew.
"They taught me to perform," Carter said. "They taught me to present myself well. Even if you felt bad that day or you'd sung a song a 1,000 times, you put a smile on your face, and you gave it 100 percent. They taught us to never show our weakness on the platform and to be prepared. I share a lot of their teaching when I'm out doing clinics. I'll never forget it. Never. I love them for it today. They're my heroes."
"I tell people that Mid-America taught me everything I know about standing before people and vocal performing."
An international company that develops, manufactures and sells GE brand products to customers across the globe is now offering something new to its employees: free tuition toward a degree at Mid-America Christian University.
Every one of the 278 employees at Jasco Products Company in Oklahoma City and throughout the U.S. is eligible to apply for free tuition toward an MACU undergraduate or graduate degree. Jasco has selected specific degrees relevant to its business, and employees may pursue those even if they are not directly related to their current jobs.
This offer is just one of the ways Jasco helps its employees improve the quality of their lives so they can have more opportunities to honor God.
Jasco is a quiet giant, thanks to the leadership of President Steve Trice and his focus on considering how Jesus Christ can be glorified in every aspect of the business.
Trice started the privately-held company in 1975. As an exclusive GE licensee, Jasco develops, markets and distributes GE branded consumer electronic accessories, computer accessories, home electric products, and home security/surveillance products. These products are sold in more than 87,000 stores internationally by mass merchants; electronic superstores; home improvement stores; food and drug retailers; military installations and direct marketers.
In 1991, Trice was a 43-year-old successful businessman who was struggling with personal frustration and depression. He was invited to a prayer breakfast in Oklahoma City where he heard the gospel in a fresh way from Bob Vernon, the assistant chief of police for Los Angeles County. Trice accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and became active in the sponsoring organization, Connecting Business Men to Christ.
Since then, he has been actively discipled by fellow Christian men, and he has been discipling men younger in the faith. His relationship with Jesus has inspired him to make his business a vehicle for ministering to everyone it touches.
Since 1996, Jasco has employed a chaplain who is available to counsel and advise interested employees. Bible studies, Christian-based parenting classes and personal financial management classes are also free to workers. Interested married couples can attend Christian weekend retreats to strengthen their marriages and the company picks up the tab.
Jasco also encourages generosity.
"We've connected with 16 different charitable organizations in Oklahoma City," Trice said. "If our employees volunteer 30 hours of their time, we match that with $300 to the charity in the employee's name. If they give their personal funds, we'll match those funds up to $500. We're doing all that we know to do internally to help a person grow with God and those other relationships in their life," Trice said.
Trice speaks often in MACU business classes, and he delivered a 2009 commencement address to graduates. So he knew where he wanted to go when his team decided to add more opportunities for employees.
"Recently, we started saying, "What could we do to help our folks in their careers and in their relationships with the Lord?" Trice said. "That's when we connected with Mid-America. They already had a new campus five minutes away from our facility, and we love the work they do. So we decided to pay full tuition for our people to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree. The same curriculum is available on-line to our staff who lives in other parts of the U.S.
"One of our primary motivations in selecting MACU is its Christian Bible-based orientation and consequently its focus on ethics in all degree programs and curriculum. A huge problem throughout the business community is unethical behavior at all levels of an organization, and the consequences when administering agreements between organizations and clients. MACU has a proven history of effectively teaching biblically-based ethics to their students who, after graduation, demonstrate ethical behaviors and leadership in the marketplace."
Trice realizes how countercultural his business approach seems to many people.
"For most of us, it's about me and my pleasure," Trice said. "We are trying to learn a different way. I spent half my life on one side of the cross, and now I'm living the second half on this side of the cross.
"I used to say, 'People are our most important asset.' In the back of my mind, I knew that we were leveraging people to make money for me and my family. Today, for me, it's about helping people be all they can be, and that involves spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"We sell to the world's largest mass merchandisers in a hugely competitive environment. We work hard at building strong relationships with all of our vendors and customers around the world and our people internally so that one day we've earned the right to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"As I understand Jesus' mission, it was to seek and save the lost and to teach them to live life to the fullest. Therefore, that needs to be my mission. I stumble and fall every day trying to do it, but that's my desire."
To find out how your company could offer educational incentives to its employees, call MACU at 888.888.2341.
Four new degree programs are now available for adult students online, on the main campus or at the north Oklahoma City location. The new offerings come from the Adult School of Business Science and the Adult School of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences.
Bachelor in Business Administration and Ethics
MACU's Business Administration and Ethics program is designed to help prepare students to pursue a variety of positions in the field of business while incorporating communication skills, critical thinking, and technical competencies required in modern business.
"This degree includes two accounting classes, micro- and macro-economics, business law, human resources, statistics and a capstone operations class," said Ken Berchenbriter, chair of the adult school of business science. "The accounting classes are eight weeks long, and they'll be followed by eight weeks of finance. This means a 24-week block of accounting and financial concentrations. It will really allow the students to delve into those topics. This degree is a natural stepping stone into the MBA."
Bachelor in Accounting and Ethics
This program provides the unique skills needed in various areas of accounting such as taxation, auditing, managerial/cost, financial and accounting law, ethical guidelines and accounting information systems. Additionally, there are general business courses that prepare students to take the CPA exam.
"This will provide sufficient credits so that students will meet the academic requirements of the CPA exam," Berchenbriter said. "They'll have 30 hours of accounting and 150 hours of overall credit."
Master of Arts in Leadership Business Management
This master's program teaches practical skills for career advancement. The program concentrates on developing students' leadership skills and business knowledge in financial accounting, business law, economics, marketing and project management.
"This degree focuses more on the organizational behavior and the leadership aspects of business management rather than the quantitative classes," Berchenbriter said. "This is the degree for people who want to focus on leadership in a business environment."
Master of Science in Counseling with an emphasis on Addiction and Substance Abuse
This 45-hour program professionally trains alcohol and drug counselors, and is designed to satisfy requirements to be a licensed alcohol and drug counselor in the state of Oklahoma. This program is for people seeking to be professional counselors, dealing primarily with clients addicted to alcohol and drugs. Persons earning this degree will generally work in a general practice or in addiction and substance abuse agencies.
"After January 1, 2012, this type of degree will be required to become an alcohol and drug counselor in Oklahoma," Adult School of Psychology and Behavioral Science Chair Dr. John McBee said. "This is a relatively new license across the country. Other states might follow suit and require this type of training."
For more details about any of these new degrees, call 888.888.2341.