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Legendary songwriter Gloria Gaither shares from her poet’s heart at Olivet’s Ladies Day

Posted: Apr 10, 2013


"We do what we do because Jesus is alive." — Gloria Gaither at Ladies Day 2013

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad!” (Psalm 96) This verse set the tone for a wonderful, worshipful Ladies Day on Saturday, April 6, 2013, in the Betty and Kenneth Hawkins Centennial Chapel on Olivet’s campus.

Music and messages delivered through God’s servants — Gloria Gaither (guest speaker), Allison Speer (guest soloist), Orpheus Choir, The Olivetians, Dr. Ovid Young (organist), Proclamation Gospel Choir with Jasper Taylor (director), Dr. Don Reddick (pianist and accompanist) and Dena Reddick (host) — brought sunshine to an overcast spring day.

Taking the stage

Greeted by a standing ovation, Gloria Gaither was the featured speaker for both the morning and afternoon presentations. She is the author of more than 40 books and 100 scripts, and has been a host and performer for Gaither Fest and Family Fest for 31 years. With her husband, Bill, she has received eight Grammy Awards, been named Songwriter of the Year by the Gospel Music Association eight times, and been named ASCAP Songwriters of the Century. The Gaithers’ “Homecoming” series has sold more than 20 million videos, in addition to music recordings and concerts.

“My whole life has been one great big interruption,” Gloria confessed to her audience. “Then, I realized that Jesus’ ministry started with an interruption during the wedding at Cana. Embrace your interruptions. God’s up to something in your life.”

Suzel Santos of Frankfort, Ill., easily related with that idea. “My husband just passed away, and that was an interruption for my life,” she shared. “I’m so thankful for my friends who brought me here today. They’re helping me through this.”

Rachel (Ewing) Donoho ’01 of Ottawa, Ill., also connected with that message. “It was a blessing for me to hear how interruptions can be part of God’s plan and used for His glory,” she said. “My husband is a pastor, and we just relocated in November. We’re starting over. I’m here today with my new friend, Audrey Garkey.”

Sharing about her romance with Bill Gaither that continues today, Gloria emphasized that she and Bill make sure they have some “romance time” every day. “We’re both romantics,” she said. “One of our favorite things to do is going to the ice cream shop in Bill’s red convertible.”

“Realize what’s eternal while you’re living your life,” Gloria added. “Success is doing what God asks you to do because he wants you there. Eternity is in this moment, and it’s our job as Christians to infuse this world with God’s glory.”

Allison Speer inspired the audience with “Peace In The Midst Of My Storm” and other songs. To conclude the day, she led the other musical performers and audience in a rousing rendition of the Gaithers’ most recorded, most translated song, written in 1970, “Because He Lives.”

Sharing the day with Gloria

More than 1,300 women came from Illinois, Michigan, Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin to share this annual event. Seven-week-old Kenna Crawford, daughter of Megan (Petty) ’08 and LaMorris Crawford ’06/’12 MOL of Anderson, Ind., was the youngest attendee.

Kate Wilson ’13 used Olivet’s special “mother-daughter” offer and brought her mother, Melissa Wilson, with her. “This was very uplifting, just what I needed,” Melissa said. “We’re from Daleville, Ind., just 20 minutes from where the Gaithers live. I’ve seen Gloria’s swans that she was talking about today.”

Kate sang with Orpheus Choir in the morning, and then enjoyed spending the rest of the day with her mom. “It’s an honor to share the stage with Gloria and Allison,” she said. After graduation, Kate plans to start a music ministry and pursue singing and songwriting in Nashville.

“My husband and I have always worked together in our family business, so I can relate to what Gloria shared,” said Lynn Fielding of Highland, Ind. “She is an outstanding speaker.”