Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018

Photo by Kaitlynn Little

At 5 p.m. today in Heritage Hall the Theology Department hosted a community event for assistant professor Glenn Butner’s recently published book, “The Son who Learned Obedience: A Theological Case Against the Eternal Submission of the Son.”

The event provided time for the college and local community to be the first to hear about and buy his book.  

Butner said he got his inspiration for the book first from hearing a theologian talk about the relationships between the trinity in 2014. Afterwards, Butner wrote an article furthering its discussion. In 2016, an online debate on that same topic led many people to read Butner’s article for information.  

Because of that attention, people started asking Butner to write more and come speak at conferences on the subject. His original article evolved and was later published in the Journal of Theological Society.   

He wrote blog posts, spoke at conferences, and published papers on the subject of the Son’s free will. He ended up writing the book by putting together these various pieces.  

“It isn’t really that clear in the Bible where there is a theology and philosophy that unpacks really how ‘will’ works,” Butner said. “Jesus having a human will is pretty important. Because he offers human obedience on our behalf, so we don’t have to. Our connection to Christ is our shared humanity.”  

He said he sent the rough draft to multiple people and book companies.  

“For this book, I got a lot of help from other people at this college,” Butner said. “The library staff and faculty. Professor Bronlewee, Dr. Gabrielson, Dr. Millhouse, all helped me edit and proof some stuff. And Lydia, she supported me through when I spent a lot of time writing this book two years ago, and listening as I discussed the trinity a lot. She has been advocating the book maybe more than I have.” 

Butner thinks the content of the book will help people because many people are wrestling with those questions.  

“The book is for basically, pastors, professors, theology graduate students, and smart Christians,” he said. “I didn’t write it at a level where everyone will easily be able to read it. I hope it will start a new conversation on this subject, that is more charitable, and that better identifies the issues at stake.”  

Attendees were allowed time to ask questions of Butner following his presentation. Refreshments of lemonade, chips, and Rice Krispies with the Keltic trinitarian knot decorated on top with frosting were provided by Lydia Butner.  

Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018

Students who are seeking help paying for college can apply for financial aid to minimize their graduation debt. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid will be available for students to fill out online beginning on Oct. 1.  

This application is for the 2019-2020 academic year. There is plenty of time for students to complete the application since the deadline closes after the next school year starts, but the risk in waiting is that the funds are limited.   

“When those funds run out, they’re gone. So we encourage students to get them done as soon as possible,” Tina McFerrin, of Sterling College financial aid, said.  

The application has opened earlier this year, and applying early can be very beneficial for students needing federal funding.  

“The first benefit is that you don’t have to pay money to complete it. There is a mobile app available this year so that they can do this on their phone too. Another thing I would mention is its based on the 2017 tax information,” McFerrin said.  

The financial aid offices are located on the first floor of Kelsey Hall. They want to help students receive funding, know where they are financially, and have plenty of time to gather any necessary documents.  

“If they don’t get it done soon, life gets busy, then in the summer they are sitting there completing their FAFSA, but they’ve missed out on those potential funding opportunities. So we don’t want that to happen. You can always come into the financial aid office for assistance. We want to award that grant funding to as many students as possible,” McFerrin said.  

To fill out the FAFSA, visit and direct all questions towards the financial aid workers.

Friday, Sept. 21, 2018

Photo by Jesse Sheppard

Sterling College’s Producing and Directing Cinema class is holding auditions at 7 p.m. today in the Art & Media Center for their upcoming film projects.

There are open auditions for four original screenplays written by the students in the course. The student directors are looking for a diverse range of actors who fit into one of four age categories: young teenagers (12-15 years old), older teenagers (16-18 years old), young adults (18-24 years old), as well as middle-aged men and women (45-55 years old).

Ryan Corwin, Assistant Professor of Communication and Digital Media, explained the purpose of these auditions.

“The objective of Producing and Directing Cinema is to produce and direct short films. We have two students producing and directing documentaries, and four [students] producing and directing creative shorts based on their original screenplays,” he said. “The final edits will be submitted to film festivals around the US.”

Each student director will need to discover talented actors for their films. Micah Watney, one of the student directors, has even reached out to local high schools to find the perfect cast members for his film.

Watney hopes for a diverse cast who integrates well into each film project.

“I wrote my piece centered around two young teens,” he said. “And that is what I was most worried about. Finding people who fit my piece.”

The directors need to know when each cast member is available so that each scene can be scheduled ahead of time.

Interested actors need to attend today’s auditions with a list of dates in October that would work with their schedules.

Auditions are dependent on each director. Applicants should be prepared to read three to five lines of dialogue, with more being a possibility if the director needs it, and the actors will need to read through lines with others. Each audition will be recorded for the directors to review as necessary during the casting process.

Cast lists should be posted by 1 p.m., Sept. 28, in the Art and Media Center, as well as on the Communications Facebook Page (

By JASE BRANDT, reporter
Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018

Photo by Jase Brandt

Friday night the English Blend held a chocolate fondue event at Dr. Mark and Laurel Watneys’ house where students and faculty alike shared their favorite literary works.

It was the English Blend’s first event of the 2018-19 academic year. To start things off, the attendees enjoyed chocolate fondue inside the Watney home while they socialized among themselves. This was followed by a campfire outside where everyone introduced themselves and shared some of their favorite writings. This included literature, poems, song lyrics and other various types of writing.

It is a yearly tradition of the Watneys to host the chocolate fondue event in their home and they both look forward to it every year.

“I love the chance to get to know people outside of the college,” Laurel said. “You learn things about people that you otherwise wouldn’t. Not too many people here were English majors. But they all had a love for beauty, and they all had a love for communicating and wanting to share. And I thought that was really cool.”

Photo by Jase Brandt

Unlike English Blend events in the past, the chocolate fondue event was open to all students and not just English Blend club members. Jesse Sheppard, the president of the English Blend, is working hard to welcome all students to join the English Blend events.

“We’re hoping we’ll get some more people to show up this year. I know last year we had a few issues like communicating it to the people,” he said. “We want to try to develop better events and have more people show up. And this year we’re focusing on developing that. We’re trying to have people who aren’t necessarily English people. We’re trying to take it away from just a Language and Literature Department event. We want it to be more inclusive to everyone on campus.”

This is one of the main reasons senior Kaitlynn Little joined the English Blend her sophomore year. She was looking for a strong group she could belong with.

“I’ve always felt safe there,” she said. “I think it’s very hard to be fake there or to feel the need to be something you’re not. You don’t have to be perfect or something like that. You’re actually talking about things that are important to you. And you’re trying to help others grow as well. You can’t really be fake about that. And I just really appreciate that.”

Photo by Jase Brandt

The English Blend is currently composed of four members: sophomore Jesse Sheppard as the president, sophomore John Mayo as both the vice president and secretary, senior Kaitlynn Little as the treasurer, and sophomore Bailey Gorges as the publicist.

Dr. Watney is a Language & Literature professor at Sterling College. He has a Ph.D. in Humanities (Literary Studies), a MA in English Literature and a BA in Social Science. His wife Laurel has earned a BA in Biblical Studies and a MA in Human Services. She began working in the Mabee Library in 2011 and became Director in 2017.

The next English Blend event is planned to be a Scary Story Time in Cornerstone on Oct. 29.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Sept. 20, 2018, to correctly identify when Laurel Watney became the library director. A previous version of this story said it was in 2011. We apologize for the error.

By Darren Porche   Sterling, KS — April 28, 2018, 1:26 P.M.

The Outstanding First-Year Student Award is an award presented to a first-year student who has been praised by nearly all of his or her professors, professors who have not taught him or her, as well as coaching staff and the administration. It goes to someone who, in their eyes, has been the most outstanding freshman and the one who has been working hard to be the best they can be. The award doesn’t come with scholarships attached to it; it’s an award that one freshman wins every year to honor their work.

This year the Outstanding First-Year Student award was presented to Beaux Biggers during Convocation, Friday, April 20. Beaux is a football player on a football scholarship from Enid, Oklahoma, out of Chisholm High School. I caught up with Beaux and he had a lot to say on how much he appreciated getting this award and on his reaction upon receiving the award.

“I was little surprised to be receiving the award,” Beaux said, “I thought I was going to be getting some participation or attendance award that some high school student would get, the athletic award for participating or something like that, but I got something that’s kind of prestigious in a way.”

Beaux was told that he got the award because a collective group of professors, some of his own and some that hadn’t taught him, had nothing but good things to say about him. Apparently, he left his mark on them all, and he also had some of his coaches say that he was a great student-athlete; as well as give him some handshakes and hugs as he accepted the award before walking to receive his award.

It’s not just his teachers and coaches who think of Beaux as someone who is worthy of this award. His peers and friends have said he’s hardworking and deserving of this award. His roommate Zack Bromlow said, “he’s always doing work, doing something good, and he’s always having a good time.” Beaux has left a lasting impression on his peers as someone who’s going to keep working and work even harder until he’s successful.

Beaux said that he won’t let this moment and this award get to his head. He currently as a 3.68 GPA and told me that he will try his best to continue on this path and assured me that there will be good things to come.


By William Dutton   Sterling, KS – April 27, 2018 2:36P.M.

Daniel Swartz, department chair of Art and Design at Sterling College was pleased with what his four seniors displayed at their senior art show Thursday, April 26.

He noted, “Each group of graduating seniors is unique in their chosen mediums/methods, messages and personalities. It is always exciting to see them mature artistically from their freshman year through to this final project. All of them have grown in significant ways, and I think have found their unique, authentic voice for this season of life. I’m eager to see what they all do next.”

The show was advertised around campus as “Homeland.”

One of the four seniors, Astrid Moncada from Patterson, California shared why the title was chosen for their senior show, “The posters are called “Homeland” because all the seniors in the show come from different places and with that are displaying art that is very unique from each other.”

Astrid's Art.jpg
Astrid Moncada’s paintings. Photo by William Dutton

Moncada, a staple on Sterling’s ministry teams the last few years has always been intentional about building strong relationships within her family back home. Her senior project then, naturally included people.

She stated, “My senior exhibit includes three paintings that are portraits of my grandmother, grandfather and mother. I really enjoyed being able to tell a story about the different personalities that my family members are known for.”

Fellow senior and California native Brandon Peterson has usually been seen with a camera in his hands while at Sterling. For his final project however, he decided he wanted to add another element.

Peterson commented, “My senior art show is a collection of photo collages that tell the story of Christ’s love for the church, and how that love is mirrored in marriage and family. In this project I’ve mixed photography, which I’m so familiar with, and collage, which is a brand-new medium for me. It has been really enjoyable to see how these two art forms work together, and to stretch myself as a well-rounded artist.”

Olivia Dunning, yet another west coast student has always loved to travel. She brought that experience into her final project at Sterling.

Dunning stated, “I am doing a series based on National Parks and other beautiful landscapes on the American west coast. I love to travel and explore nature, so I really enjoyed getting to bring that experience into my art.”

Peterson’s male counterpart in the department is Jose Chavez. Chavez ventured away from the type of art most people think of and came up with combing graphic design and a passion of his together.

He shared, “I made a soccer magazine. It is based on the amateur soccer scene in the state of Colorado. What I enjoyed the most was getting to travel from city to city and learn more about the new leagues and teams. Also, the fact that I was mixing two of my favorite passions made it more fun.”

Anyone who attended the show may have been in awe of the final product they saw. The seniors, however, had to withstand multiple challenges along the road to get ready for the show day.

Peterson noted the end of the year busyness was tough to handle at times.

Brandon Talking
Brandon Peterson showing his photography collage. Photo by Micah Black

He said, “The most challenging part of putting together my senior art show was definitely the time constraint. My collection consists of around 30 individual pieces that all are meant to function individually but also as a part of a bigger picture. Pulling this off in three months, while still enrolled in other classes, was truly one of the most difficult projects I’ve ever tackled.”


That’s a big statement coming from a guy who has taken countless photography sessions for weddings, senior pictures and other events over the past few years.

Dunning’s obstacle was different from Peterson. She sets the bar high for herself in most situations, and had a tough time feeling done as her final project wounded down.

She shared, “I am my harshest critic so coming to a stopping point is always the hardest part of any piece. I constantly see myself improving and sometimes I just have to relax and call a piece done.”

Jose Chavez explaining the soccer magazine he designed. Photo by Micah Black

Being a harsh critic is tough but traveling over a break from school and work can sometimes may seem tougher, but for Jose Chavez it seemed important to complete his project.

Chavez explained, “Getting interviews and photographs for the magazine was very hard. Colorado is quite far away and getting these things was not easy. I had to use my spring break to do all of that, and I ended up working during my break.”

Moncada shared a similar state of mind as Dunning as the process wound down.

Moncada said, “The most challenging part about my art pieces was knowing when it felt done. There was always something to fix or enhance in my portrait paintings. I also think the hardest part was not being afraid to paint something different. For example, my backgrounds changed a lot and I got comfortable painting with bright vibrant colors.”

Being Seniors these four have thought a great deal about the near future. All of them want to pursue art in their own unique way.

Moncada mentioned, “I will continue art by actually going to grad school in the future to study art therapy for children. I plan to have a graphic design job during this time as I pursue my education in art therapy and counseling. However, I will also make sure to strengthen all aspects of my artistic side such as music. I hope to also do mission work and use art as a means to share the gospel.”

For Dunning and Chavez using their graphic design skills seems to be an emphasis and desire of theirs for the future.

Dunning stated proudly, “I will definitely be continuing in art after I graduate. I will be working a job where I get to use my graphic design skills, and I will also be putting together an illustration portfolio with the goal of illustrating children’s book one day.”

Jose's Art
Jose Chavez’s graphic design display. Photo By William Dutton

Chavez, on the other hand, wants to use graphic design for his career choice.


He said, “I do want to continue, but mostly in graphic design areas and photography. I guess this has become part of me, and I want to continue doing it for as long as God lets me do it. To be able to find a job as a graphic designer and keep moving up the ladder and hopefully one day work for big design firms would be my goal.”

And for Peterson it seems to be a no brainer to stay with art.

He commented, “I absolutely want to keep pursuing art! I love traveling around the country to photograph weddings and connecting with people on that personal level. I hope to reach a point where I can actively do freelance photography full-time.”

With four seniors graduating in a department that’s not huge, what do they see for the future here after they graduate?

“I can definitely see that this art department will grow. We have so many gifted students who are pursuing art with a Christian-based faith and that for me is impactful! This department will keep preparing artists who will change the world around them by how they create,” Moncada declared.

Peterson echoed the same sentiments saying, “The future of the art department is bright. There are some freshmen and sophomores right now who are really talented. I know those students’ work will only improve in the next few years, and I’m excited to come back and see more senior exhibitions in the years to come!”

Chavez believes the department helps get students ready for the future.

He said, “I hope the department expands. This program does a good job to prepare students for a competitive world, and hopefully more students sign up to be art majors. But if more students come in, the building will need to expand too, and I hope that happens.”

Not only do these students see future success for the younger artists, they are leaving with thankful hearts filled with gratitude toward the people that got them where they are today.

Olivia Dunning at the art show. Photo by Micah Black

Dunning said, “Sterling offered me the opportunity to stretch myself as an artist. I got to try things I would never have thought to try before and gain experience with many tools and art styles that helped expand my ability as an artist.”




Chavez credited professors for his new skills.

“Having professors that care for your growth and success is what stands out the most. Also, learning more about artistic aspects in graphic design. I came to appreciate certain elements even more, like typography and the use of white space.”

Peterson had hills and valleys during his Sterling career, but he enjoyed the consistency he saw in people.

“My time in the Sterling College Art & Design program has been high and low, challenging and frustrating, but one consistent factor has been the intentionality of my professors. Every year, they have shown me that they not only care about my growth as an artist, but as a Christian,” he noted.

Professors are also something that Moncada has really internalized during her time at Sterling.

Astrid Moncada telling the stories behind her paintings. Photo by Micah Black


“Something that stands out about my art education at SC is the fact that I have professors that push you to create outside your comfort zone. I am grateful that they challenge you to try new things in order to see you grow as an artist. However, what stands out the most is that I have professors that encourage and reflect a Christian lifestyle to their students in the class setting,” she said.


Professor Swartz talked about this specific senior class and said, “I think every graduating class has set the tone in some way. Each senior show has a way of helping expand the possibilities for the classes after them. I think it helps younger classes dream bigger by opening up new avenues.”

By Jase Brandt Sterling, KS – April 25, 2018 11:27 P.M.
Sterling College had the privilege of having Thomas Averill visit and read excerpts from his newest novel “Found Documents from the Life of Nell” Johnson Doerr on Friday, April 20 in Cornerstone, followed by discussion time and book signing. Averill was met with a small but captivated audience.

Aside from his reading, Averill also talked about his method of writing “archival fiction,” in which he creates his stories out of his research. Jesse Sheppard, freshman at Sterling College commented, “I really enjoyed the event…[and] what he was reading…I think he did a really good job writing [his book], how he crafts a narrative and how it has the historical background…I really like how he infused the history into it.”

Dr. Watney, professor of English Literature at Sterling College, commented, “I appreciated [Thomas’] reading style…He read with a sense of deep love for his own characters…Digging into the archives, he finds a character who he begins to fall in love with. And I loved that sense of rootedness in his characters. And his ability to build a story out of what he discovers in the archives. I found that fascinating… I look forward to reading [his book]”

Thomas is a writer and a professor of English at Washburn University. He is an O. Henry Award winner and a two-time winner of the Kansas Notable Book Awards. Some his works include “Secrets of the Tsil Café” and “Ordinary Genius.” His specialties include fiction, essay and poetry writing, as well as food studies, garden literature, Scottish culture, and Kansas literature and culture. His donated book collection helped establish the Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection at Washburn’s Mabee Library. More information about Thomas Averill can be found at


By William Dutton Sterling, KS – April 20, 2018 2:46 PM

When Aaron Brown, department chair of the Language and Literature Department here at Sterling, learned of one individual interviewing to fill an assistant professor position in his department, he was excited, and wanted to see the individual’s interactions with students.

Brown recounted the situation saying, “When she first interviewed here at Sterling two years ago, I was immediately struck by how intentional she was with everyone she meets. We had an event where she got to meet with students, and within a few minutes, she had memorized everyone’s name and was getting into a deep conversation with them, asking insightful questions that get you to really think. I think everyone appreciates that focus, humility, and listening attitude she demonstrates so well.”

Who is Brown referring to? None other than assistant professor of Language and Literature, Dr. Rachel Griffis.

Brown would go as far to say that Dr. Griffis is extremely devoted to her job.

He commented, “Dr. Griffis is a patient individual who is an incredibly hard worker—she doesn’t rest until she figures out a difficult piece of literature, and she takes the time to help lead others in seeing literature in a new light.”

Griffis has benefited from ongoing education, and continually pushes herself to learn more.

Griffis shared, “I have a B.A. in English from Azusa Pacific University (2006), M.A. in English from Chapman University (2010), and Ph.D. in English from Baylor University (2016),” she said.

It has not been only her education that has taken her all over the country, though. She grew up and went to high school in Pentwater, Michigan, before moving to Southern California and Texas, ultimately landing in Sterling.

One of her favorite memories from her professional life came fairly recently while she was in France.

“Last summer, I presented a paper at a conference in France. When I was in my Ph.D. program, I spent a week in Alabama for a seminar on teaching Dante. I love getting together with other scholars and teachers and discussing the big questions of our field and discipline,” she said.

For Griffis, teaching at a Christian college has been well worth it.

She said, “I have always wanted to teach at a Christian college because of the expectation to integrate faith and learning. Faith and theology are very important to me, and so I appreciate the opportunity to help students wrestle with theological questions in writing and literature courses.”

Because of the relative size of Sterling’s campus, Griffis has been able to draw her circle wider.

“At Sterling, I have the opportunity to teach a wide range of courses and work with both majors and general education students. Because it is a small campus, I feel like I am very involved in life at the college, with students and other departments,” said Griffis.

How exactly did Griffis gravitate toward her profession? Unlike many college students, she stayed firm in her major and hasn’t looked back since.

“I have always loved books, ideas and writing. I declared English as my major as a freshman and never swayed from that decision,” she remarked.

Speaking of books, Griffis has a number of favorite authors, and she explains what makes them worth reading.

“My favorite seems to change depending on what is going on in my life. I love Cormac McCarthy because his writing is stunning, and his view of human nature is significant. I like Marilynne Robinson because of the way she conveys theological and social insights through narrative,” Griffis shared.

Her time at Sterling has been fairly short so far, but that hasn’t stopped her from building fun memories with her students.

When recounting one particular time she said, “Teaching young adult literature last semester was a blast! As an educator, I loved having the opportunity to talk to future educators and people who are interested in working with youth to discuss the formative practice of reading.”

A seemingly driven person by nature, Griffis has high hopes for the future.

She commented, “I want to become a better teacher every year. I’d like to continue producing scholarship on American literature as well as faith and learning.” Rachel Griffis

Her current goal for students is widespread, but she believes they all can achieve it.

Griffis said, “I hope that they develop as readers, thinkers and writers. I want them to interpret texts well and to translate those skills to real life. I also hope that they walk away from my class with an appreciation for Christian virtues and a deeper understanding of what is really important in life.”

Brown offered one last remark about the young, dedicated professor.

“Dr. Griffis supplies our department with energy and enthusiasm for literature and what it means to be a person of virtue. She always has creative ideas about the text and how to make the text come alive in the classroom. I certainly look up to her and find that she always has helpful ideas for other professors,” he said.

By Cathryn Cavazos     Sterling, KS – April 18, 2018, 11:38 P.M.

It seems as if the theatre kids just don’t stop, and this time, they are putting on quite the show.

“Noises Off,” a play written in 1982, is the story of a British playwright who is trying, but failing, to keep together a show full of strange and eccentric actors. Audiences get to see what “truly” happens backstage during a theatre production, and the result is nothing like one would expect. The play features a healthy dose of chaos, comedy, and an absurd amount of sardines.

Noises Off Photo 3.jpg
Photo Credit: Micah Black

According to the Sterling College article about the production, “Sasha Hildebrand, director of “Noises Off,” said that the play is the funniest comedy she’s ever read or worked on. She has performed in the play twice, once in high school and once at the Texas Shakespeare Festival. While she worked at the Chicago Academy for the Arts, she directed the play with fellow Sterling College alumnus Ben Dicke ’01.”

Alyssa Hershey, junior, said that “this is the most hilarious show that she’s ever been a part of, this show is a blast,” she said.

According to Sterling College’s article, Hildebrand said, “it’s also one of the most difficult plays to do because of the physicality – there is a real style to it. It is a true ensemble piece and requires everybody working perfectly in sync with each other to make it work.”

Hershey echoed Hildebrand, saying “the most difficult part of the show [has been] getting the blocking down…it’s very specific, almost like a machine.”

This is not the first time that the College has brought the show to life. “Alumnus Greg McGlynn ’87 directed the play in 1988 at Sterling College, and the Sterling Community Theatre Troupe performed the show under the direction of Dennis Dutton in 1996,” said the College’s article.

The final play of the season, besides one act productions, has undergone major changes, including turnover of cast and the actors having to have things prepared in a short amount of time. But senior Courtney Swanson said that even though “this show is easily the hardest show that I have ever been a part of…I think the biggest take away I want the audience to have is that this theatre department may be small in number but the passion we have for the craft is way bigger than our size.”

Swanson says it is “bittersweet” knowing that this is her last show at Sterling. “I am incredibly proud of the shows we have put on in the past few years and I am going to miss the long nights in the theater with all of my friends!”

Junior Wesley Lowrey said, “this show has been unique though because I’ve never done anything like it before. It is also under a new director, but I’ve enjoyed the new experience all-around. I’ve been pushed to grow as an actor since I don’t do comedy typically, and I’ve really enjoyed that.”

Opening night is tomorrow, April 19 will run through Sunday, April 22. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. every night, except for the Sunday matinee, when doors open at 1:30 p.m. and the show begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children, students and seniors. Sterling College students and faculty get in for free.

“I hope the audience will get a night where they don’t have to feel stressed out or worried,” said sophomore Seth Rogers. “I want them to get a night where they just get to sit back enjoy and have a good laugh.”

Noises Off Photo 2
Photo Credit: Micah Black