The Community Prayer Breakfast Marks 30th Anniversary with Service Honors and Dynamic Presentation by Author, Speaker and Singer Michele Pillar | Judson University Christian College
The Community Prayer Breakfast Marks 30th Anniversary with Service Honors and Dynamic Presentation by Author, Speaker and Singer Michele Pillar

Michele Pillar - Prayer Breakfast 2028(2)(ELGIN, IL – May 9, 2018) The Judson University 30th anniversary celebration of the Community Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday, May 9, brought together more than 300 people to Lindner Fitness Center this morning. Although the morning started out rainy outside, the atmosphere indoors couldn’t have been sunnier.

Community members, including local dignitaries, civic leaders, school administrators and others, came prepared to bask in Christian fellowship, honor peers with service awards and hear from the morning’s guest speaker, Michele Pillar.

Following a welcome by retired Fox Valley Broadcasting Company president Rick Jakle and special thanks and invocation by Judson Adjunct Professor Dr. Karen Love and Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Elgin's Gil Feliciano respectively, Pillar took to the stage to sing her song, “Believe.”

She was formally introduced to the audience by Judson Professor Dr. Steve Layne, who is admittedly Pillar’s biggest fan. He told funny stories about hearing her sing on the radio when he was a student at Judson in the 1980s and being smitten by her voice. (Today, he still was.) Pillar sang a second song called “You Untangle Me,” named after her 2016 book, Untangled, at the close of the program.

It was evident when she stepped up to speak that Pillar would do so from a place of transparency, enlightenment and vulnerability. This three-time Grammy and Dove Award nominee began her singing career as a contemporary Christian music singer and songwriter (spending many years performing on the Maranatha! Music Praise album series and other solo albums). Yet, today, she spoke about how she first learned to pray, by fearfully crouching under a bed as a child while her mother (oftentimes intoxicated) searched for her, wielding a yardstick.

“I am thankful that God knew how to find me, and I praise God for the answer to prayers, even when I didn’t know His name,” she said in a quiet, conversational tone.

In faKeith Brill (Center)ct, over the years, Pillar began to name and categorize her prayers. She demonstrated what she called the “hand on hip” prayers as prayers to remind God at a time of frustration of who the Bible says He is and what His promises are. She also spoke of quieter times, like the “arms around the ankles and forehead on top of His feet” prayers. “That’s when I have no words to say,” she explained. “But He knows anyway.”

Pillar added keynote speaking to her repertoire in 2009 and authored her first book in 2016: “Untangled: The Truth Will Set You Free.” She is the inspirational voice of the “Two Minute Miracle” video Bible devotional on Facebook (which reaches more than 50,000 people weekly), and she leads The Clothesline Women’s Conference live events and works as a scriptwriter and featured guest on the nationally syndicated radio show, “Keep The Faith.”

During her presentation, she said Christians must be bold about who they really are, even when that person falls short of perfection. “I have to be brave enough to be who I am in the Lord,” she said. “God is strongest in our greatest weakness, and people find comfort when we’re real.”

The 30th Community Prayer Breakfast gave audience members a time to reflect. It also celebrated the 15th anniversary of the D. Ray Wilson Volunteer Service Award, an honor named after the late Judson Trustee to highlight the exceptional community involvement of an adult volunteer.

This year’s recipient was Keith Brill of Elgin, Ill. Brill is a controller for Clad-Rex Steel and has been very involved in the community. He has volunteered for the Elgin Community Crisis Center for 28 years and served on the board as treasurer and currently as president. He has served on many of the Center’s committees, run its Resale Shop, served on the Annual Benefit Auction and set up a computer system for the event. He has been a co-leader for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and co-leader with Elgin Junior Achievement. In more than 30 years of volunteering, his contributions have benefitted Habitat for Humanity, helping to build five houses; Children’s Theatre of Elgin, helping to build stage sets for 17 years; and YWCA-Volunteer Adult Education and Family Literacy Technology, where he worked in computer labs. He assisted with various projects with the United Way’s Day of Caring; served with First Presbyterian Church’s Youth Sunday School Class; helped with the U-46 Career Day for the past two years; served as a Larkin High School – Student Choral, Band and Event chaperone; helped with the Jane Shover Easter Seals Telethon and with Big Brothers Big Sisters. He coached in the Elgin Classic Little League for three years and served as a volunteer tax preparer for the elderly and non-profit employees for more than 26 years.

“When I look around this room, I see many who volunteer, many servant leaders,” Brill said as he accepted his award.

Haley WahlJudson also introduced the Bea Wilson Youth Volunteer Service Award to honor school-aged youth in the Fox Valley who give back to their community. The new award is named in honor of Beatrice Joy (Daffer) Wilson, wife of the former Judson Trustee D. Ray Wilson. The Bea Wilson Youth Volunteer Service Award includes a $3,000 annual scholarship to attend Judson University.

This year’s charter recipient is Haley Wahl of Elgin, Ill. Wahl is a sophomore in the Gifted and Talented Academy at Elgin High School. She is also an active member of the Youth United Way of Elgin. Youth United members are high school students from public and private schools within the School District U-46. As part of the group, she has volunteered at the Centro de Informacion Annual Gala; Nightmare on Chicago Street; helped to organize a food drive; baked more than 800 cookies for people who are homeless; volunteered at the Community Toy-Giveaway at the Hemmens Auditorium; helped with set up for Streamwood’s 33rd Annual Luminaria event; and volunteered with the PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter) annual “Winter Harvest for the Homeless” gala. At school, she is on the High Honor Roll; a member of the marching band and drumline; an elected member of the Class Council and Student Council; co-captain of the girls’ volleyball team; and she is manager of the boys’ volleyball team. She balances her time between her rigorous academic schedule, athletic participation and leadership, and volunteering for her community. Outside of school, Wahl has been honored for leadership by Camp Edwards; and she performs with an Irish dance troupe throughout the Chicagoland area.

In addition to honoring Brill and Wahl with volunteer service awards today, Judson President Dr. Gene Crume presented a Presidential Award for Exceptional Achievement to outgoing Elgin Police Chief Jeffrey Swoboda, for his years of commitment and service to the community since joining the police department in 2010. Chief Swoboda will be leaving Elgin soon and accepting a police chief position in Fort Collins, Colo.

Photos from the Community Prayer Breakfast 2018

Community Prayer Breakfast 2018

Photos by Nora Russell '20, Courtesy of Judson University.


Judson University, Shaping Lives that Shape the World