News Archives: Student Life

HPU BSM leaders encourage student involvement

Haylee Maddox for webBROWNWOOD – September 7, 2017 – Keith Platte, director of Howard Payne University’s Baptist Student Ministry, and several BSM student leaders spoke during the university’s Chapel program Wednesday morning. The leaders described to students the various ways in which they can become involved with BSM ministries.

Platte introduced the student leaders, saying that serving through the BSM is one way in which they live out the BSM’s motto of “Love. Serve. Share.”

“Our student leaders have a passion for their peers to know Christ, they have a passion for our community to know Christ and they have a passion to serve other people,” he said.

Students were encouraged to become involved with one of the BSM ministries including tutoring young students at a local apartment complex, mentoring youth at Brownwood’s Texas Juvenile Justice Department facility, fellowshipping with residents at local nursing facilities and partnering with churches across the state to provide youth activities including Disciple Now Weekend and 5th Quarter. Additional ministries are geared specifically toward mentoring and fellowship with other HPU students. These include Community Groups, Pray & Do, Student-Athlete Ministry, Campus Outreach, Student-Led Worship, Freshmen Council and weekly free lunches provided by area churches.

Sophomore Haylee Maddox of Bellville, leader of one of the BSM Community Groups, reminded students they will get back what they invest during their four years at HPU.

“If you go to social events and start being nice to people and introducing yourself, you’ll start to build relationships,” she said. “Jesus truly changes people and that’s exactly what the BSM is all about.”


Cutline: HPU sophomore Haylee Maddox, a member of the Baptist Student Ministry leadership team, encouraged her peers to get involved on campus through the BSM. She was one of several BSM leaders to speak during HPU’s Chapel service on Wednesday.

HPU graduate spends summer working with refugees through Go Now Missions

Shaefer Church 2017BROWNWOOD – September 7, 2017 – Shaefer Church, a 2016 Howard Payne University graduate, spent the summer in Greece volunteering with refugees who have fled the Middle East and northern Africa. He was one of three students from HPU and hundreds from the state of Texas serving around the globe this summer through Texas Baptists’ Go Now Missions.

Church served alongside seven other Americans at a refugee camp on the island of Lesvos. They provided the individuals with food, clothing, stability and safety, an opportunity, he said, that strengthened his own walk with Christ.

“As Christians, we are called to serve others and, when we do this, we draw closer to Jesus,” he said. “I really got to see God’s love for the oppressed and how He is at work with refugees. I was blessed in that I got to meet some great human beings within the camp.”

As a student at HPU, Church was involved on campus, particularly with the Baptist Student Ministry.

“I helped out with a few BSM ministries over the years, but the two in which I invested the most time were Student Led Worship and Campus Outreach,” Church said. “Being a part of the BSM was very formational for me, and it really helped shape how I view missions, community and serving others.”

Keith Platte serves as HPU’s BSM director.

“Shaefer served as our BSM student worker for two years,” said Platte. “During that time, I had the joy of seeing God grow a wonderful servant and leader. There’s no doubt that Shaefer was gifted by God with the gift of leadership and that shows in everything he does. People naturally want to join along in what Shaefer is doing, and Shaefer keeps following after the heart of God, so he keeps bringing people closer to God. That’s what discipleship is about. Shaefer gets that.”

In addition to Greece, Church served at other times with Go Now Missions in the Philippines and in Oregon.

“All of these experiences impacted me in ways that I can’t even fathom,” he said. “I am who I am today because of what I saw God do while I was on those trips.”

Church said his long-term ministry goal is to serve Christ and help others overseas. He currently serves as youth director at First United Methodist Church in Brownwood.

“I get to work with some truly amazing youth and serve the Lord right here in my own community,” he said. “I love working with the students, and the fact that I get to be their youth leader is an amazing blessing.”

Church graduated Magna Cum Laude from HPU in December 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible.

“In every way that I can imagine, HPU prepared me for what I’m doing now,” he said. “The Christian studies department was a great place for me to learn more about God’s Word, the Church and how to do ministry. I really loved my time at HPU.”


Cutline: Shaefer Church, a 2016 HPU graduate, spent his summer working with refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos. He is pictured on the HPU campus.

HPU’s Dr. Gary Gramling speaks at Wednesday morning Chapel service

Gary Gramling ChapelBROWNWOOD – August 31, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s Dr. Gary Gramling, 1981 HPU graduate, professor of Christian studies and director of the graduate programs in Christian studies, spoke at HPU’s Chapel service Wednesday morning.

“I can tell you that once you’ve had a personal encounter with Jesus, you’ll never be the same,” Dr. Gramling told audiences. “The Father wants nothing more than for every one of us, the people He made, to have a relationship with Him.”

The overall theme for HPU Chapel this semester is “Love God, Love Others.” To see the full slate of Chapel speakers, visit


Cutline: Dr. Gary Gramling speaks at HPU’s Chapel service Wednesday morning.

HPU baseball partners with Weakley-Watson for hurricane relief

BROWNWOOD – August 30, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s baseball team is partnering with Weakley-Watson Ace Hardware of Brownwood to provide relief amidst the ongoing devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey along Texas’ Gulf Coast. The team’s efforts are bolstered by a variety of other campus groups and individuals.

HPU will host a donation drive this Saturday, September 2, from 9 a.m. to noon at the former Hastings’ parking lot, 600 N. Center Ave. in Brownwood. The following weekend, the baseball team and other campus volunteers will travel to southeast Texas to distribute items and money collected to those in need. There, the group’s efforts will be facilitated by Joseph Jones, HPU alumnus and pastor of First Baptist Church of Port Lavaca.

Donations most needed include personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, non-perishable foods, and new and used tools including crowbars, rakes, saws, shovels and other tools that can assist in cleanup efforts.

In addition to the donation drive at the former Hastings’ parking lot, Weakley-Watson Ace Hardware, 1414 Austin Ave. in Brownwood, will discount by 25 percent purchases listed as hurricane relief items. Once purchased, the items may be left at the store and HPU’s baseball team will collect them for distribution. Weakley-Watson will also serve as a donation drop-off location.

“HPU is blessed to be in Brown County, a place where businesses and individuals step up to help those in need,” said Stephen Lynn, head baseball coach. “We look forward to seeing the turnout at Saturday’s donation drive and we thank you in advance for your contributions.”

Those who prefer to offer financial support may mail a check, designated “Hurricane Relief,” to HPU’s Office of Institutional Advancement, P.O. Box 2369, Brownwood, TX 76804 by Tuesday, September 5. As financial donations will go directly to those in need, they will not be considered tax-deductible gifts to the university and receipts will not be mailed.

Anyone unable to attend the drive may coordinate with the baseball team to have donation items collected. For more information, or to schedule a collection time, contact Robert Anders, assistant baseball coach, at 972-322-4116 or

Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president, said the university is deeply saddened by the devastation along the Gulf Coast and in the other areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“We’re thankful that, through the leadership efforts of our baseball team and with support from other campus groups and the community, we can share resources with those in need,” he said. “Most of all, we pray for God’s comfort and protection over our friends, loved ones and all others impacted by this tragedy.”

HPU has created a Facebook group to host requests for hurricane relief assistance and offers for donations and volunteer hours. To join the group visit


HPU cheer team ready for 2017-2018 activities

HPU cheer team August 2017 for webBROWNWOOD – August 28, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s cheer team recently held the group’s first practice of the 2017-2018 academic year. The students are eager to lead the campus community in showing HPU spirit at a variety of athletic events and other activities.

The team is led by Bethany Covington in her first year as cheer team coach. Providing support as cheer team coordinator is Gretchen Campbell, executive assistant to the vice president for student life & dean of students.

“We have a great, high-energy group of cheerleaders on our team,” said Bethany Covington. “I know their HPU enthusiasm will be contagious.”

HPU’s cheer team is comprised of Maddie Bicknell, sophomore from Cleburne; Madelyn Deviney, junior from Bulverde; Fallon Ferguson (captain), senior from Milano; Klaye Georges, sophomore from Hamlin; Chanda King, sophomore from Childress; Holly Leatherman, senior from Tolar; Lindsey McKinney (captain), senior from Brownwood; Madison Miller, sophomore from Granbury; Krystin Mullins, freshman from Crowley; Marley Murray, sophomore from Brownwood; Brittany Rideau, sophomore from Beaumont; Keylee Sinderud, sophomore from Clifton; Connor Vara, senior from Brownwood; and Chelsea Walker, freshman from Anson.

The group’s first public appearance is scheduled for the football game on September 23 at 1:00 p.m., when the HPU Yellow Jackets face the Hardin-Simmons University Cowboys at Gordon Wood Stadium.


Cutline: Members of HPU’s cheer team are eager to lend enthusiastic support to the university at athletic events and other activities throughout the new academic year. Pictured are (far left) Chelsea Walker; (bottom from left to right) Brittany Rideau, Lindsey McKinney, Krystin Mullins, Klaye Georges and Madelyn Deviney; and (top from left to right) Holly Leatherman, Fallon Ferguson, Chanda King, Madison Miller, Keylee Sinderud, Maddie Bicknell and Marley Murray. Not pictured is Connor Vara.

HPU students serve the Brownwood community through S.W.A.R.M. day

Photo 1 Good Samaritan HPU for webBROWNWOOD – August 25, 2017 – Members of Howard Payne University’s new student class, along with upperclassman leaders, spent the Saturday before classes began serving the city they now call home. The students participated in the university’s annual Serving With A Right Motive (S.W.A.R.M.) project on August 19 as part of Jacket Journey, the university’s new student orientation.

The S.W.A.R.M. volunteers gathered at the university early that morning and then dispersed to four locations – Good Samaritan Ministries, Brownwood’s Lyric Theatre, The ARK Domestic Violence Shelter and the Brownwood Area Community Garden. Some students stayed on campus and wrote encouraging Photo 2 Lyric HPU for webletters to the military on behalf of the university.

“S.W.A.R.M. is a highlight of our Jacket Journey program,” said Dr. Magen Bunyard, vice president for student life and dean of students. “It is always encouraging to see new and returning students spend their time and energy serving the Brownwood community.”


Photo 3 ARK HPU for webCutlines: 1. New and current HPU students help sort clothing at Good Samaritan Ministries during the university’s S.W.A.R.M. day.
2. HPU students volunteer at Brownwood’s Lyric Theatre.
3. HPU students help organize clothing at the ARK Domestic Violence Shelter.
4. HPU students volunteer at the Brownwood Area Community Garden.






Photo 4 Garden HPU 2 for web

HPU hosts University Convocation featuring Rev. René Maciel

Rene MacielBROWNWOOD – August 23, 2017 – Rev. René Maciel, community life pastor at First Woodway Baptist Church of Waco, addressed Howard Payne University students, faculty and staff at University Convocation on Wednesday morning. The event marked the first Chapel service of the academic year.

Rev. Maciel invested more than 31 years in higher education and administration with Baptist institutions such as Hardin-Simmons University, Baylor University, the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home and George W. Truett Theological Seminary. He also served as president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (Texas Baptists) from 2015 to 2016.

He discussed the importance of finding one’s identity in Christ.

“I believe that when you know who He is, you will discover who you are,” he said. “God created you in likeness of Him and He has a purpose and plan for your life.”

Additional Convocation program participants included Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president; Dr. Celeste Church, professor of music and dean of institutional research and effectiveness; Dr. Gerry Clarkson, associate professor of physical science and president of HPU’s Faculty Assembly; Stephen Goacher, professor of music; Alexa Maddox ’04, instructor of developmental studies and academic services coordinator; Dr. Christopher Rosborough ’08, assistant professor of music; Isaac Sommers, president of HPU’s Student Government Association; Dr. W. Mark Tew, provost and chief academic officer; Dr. Elizabeth Wallace ’71, professor of music; and Dr. Craig Younce, associate professor of biology.


Cutline: Rev. René Maciel, community life pastor at First Woodway Baptist Church of Waco, spoke at HPU’s University Convocation ceremony Wednesday morning.

New HPU students participate in Chime In

Chime In Fall 2017BROWNWOOD – August 22, 2017 – Howard Payne University’s incoming students were officially welcomed to the university yesterday during HPU’s Chime In ceremony.

New students ceremoniously walked through the university’s Wilson Gate and down the Wilson Walkway. They then proceeded to HPU’s Old Main Tower to sing the alma mater for the first time together as a class. As seniors, the students will exit through the Wilson Gate during Chime Out.

“It was exciting to see our new students take part in this tradition,” said Dr. Magen Bunyard, vice president of student life and dean of students. “The semester is off to a great start already and we look forward to the years ahead with this great group of students.”


Cutline: HPU’s incoming students and upperclassmen leaders proceed down the university’s Wilson Walkway during Monday’s Chime In ceremony.

HPU’s Class of 2021 arrives on campus

JJ Group Fall 2017BROWNWOOD – August 18, 2017 – Jacket Journey, Howard Payne University’s new-student orientation, began Thursday with events continuing throughout the weekend. Incoming students and upperclassmen leaders and support staff paused Friday morning for a group photo.

Due to rain, HPU’s Chime In ceremony, originally scheduled for Thursday evening, was postponed until Monday, August 21, at 4:30 p.m. The community is invited to attend as the new students ceremoniously walk through the university’s Wilson Gate before arriving at HPU’s Old Main Tower to sing the alma mater for the first time together as a class.

HPU announces fall 2017 Chapel schedule

Fall 2017 Chapel ThemeBROWNWOOD – August 14, 2017 – Howard Payne University has announced its Chapel schedule for the fall 2017 semester. Chapel services provide opportunities for students, faculty and staff – as well as the community – to come together in worship. This year’s Chapel theme, centered around Mark 12:28-31, is “Love God, Love Others.”

Services are held most Wednesdays at 10 a.m. throughout the semester in HPU’s Mims Auditorium. To view the full schedule visit

Chapel will begin on August 23 with HPU’s annual Convocation ceremony. This year’s Convocation speaker is René Maciel, community life pastor at First Woodway Baptist Church of Waco. Prior to this position, Maciel invested more than 31 years in higher education and administration with Baptist institutions such as Hardin-Simmons University, Baylor University, the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home and George W. Truett Theological Seminary. He also served as president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (Texas Baptists) from 2015 to 2016.

Encounter Week, HPU’s fall campus revival, is scheduled Monday, September 18, through Wednesday, September 20. Encounter Week will be led by Zack Randles, pastor at Waterfront Church in Washington, D.C. The Nick Gainey Band of Dallas will lead worship for the week.

Other Chapel guest speakers this semester include Angela Groves ’03, Rev. Candy Smith ’71, Rev. Don Piper, Tim Skaggs, Harvey J. Munsart, Corbin Young ’10, MATM ’14, representatives from UnBound Ministries of Waco and Dr. Don Newbury ’61, HPU chancellor and former president. Dr. Gary Gramling ’81, professor of Christian studies and director of the Christian studies graduate programs, and Keith Platte, HPU’s BSM director, will also serve as guest speakers. The service on August 27 will focus on cross-cultural studies.

Corey Ash, HPU’s director of bands, serves as Chapel coordinator.

“We are so excited about the chapel lineup for this fall semester,” he said. “We’ve got some individuals coming who are sure to bring challenging and inspiring messages to all of us. There will also be those who will come and share about things that will, hopefully, open our eyes to the many needs around us. I’m also really excited about our Encounter Week team. I believe that God has great things in store for all of us this semester as we seek to know Him better and to follow Him in a more faithful way.”


Cutline: HPU’s Chapel theme for fall 2017 is “Love God, Love Others.”