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Mathison encourages TSU

graduates to think big

By MICHELLE J. WILSON

Staff Writer

Published Aug. 8, 1999

The Rev. John Ed Mathison challenged Troy State University graduates to make their dreams a reality in his commencement address Friday.

Mathison, who is senior minister at Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church of Montgomery, spoke to the more than 330 graduates, their families and friends at Sartain Hall.

He challenged them to "accomplish what God created you to do," Mathison said.

"If you never dream, you’ll never have a dream come true," he said.

Neil Armstrong knew the importance of thinking big, Mathison said. The day he graduated from high school, Armstrong told his science teacher he would someday walk on the moon.

His dream came true in July of 1969.

"When you dream big, you push back the parameters of what people say is possible to reach that dream," Mathison said.

Once you set your goals, or dreams, you should work hard to accomplish them, while keeping your priorities in order, he said. While working, you should always keep your values and priorities in mind.

"The two things you should remember are love God and love your neighbor as yourself," Mathison said. "We live in an age where it is easy to invert your priorities. "We put big price tags on the things that aren’t very important and little price tags on the things that matter most."

Before Mathison spoke, Jack Hawkins Jr., chancellor of the Troy State University System, had four requests of the new TSU alumni.

"Send us good students to replace yourselves, speak well of your alma mater, and let us hear from you," Hawkins said. "Return often to Troy State."

He described Mathison as a man who "serves with humility and leads with strength of character."

Mathison said he graduated from Opelika High School, attended Young Harris College and received a bachelor degree in English from Huntingdon College.

He also earned a bachelor of divinity, which is a professional degree from seminary, and a doctor of ministry degree from Candler School of theology at Emory University, Mathison said. He received a master of theology degree from Princeton University.

Under Mathison’s leadership, Frazer Memorial is one of the fastest growing churches in the United States, said TSU Spokesman Tom Davis. In 1986, the church Leadership Institute cited Frazer as the fastest growing church of any denomination in Alabama. The church has an average Sunday worship attendance of more than 4,500 for four services.

The church’s morning service is televised each week on three national cable networks and reaches a total of 80 million homes, Davis said. The Frazer Family Hour is shown each Sunday in 22 countries and reaches 167 trillion homes.

Mathison was named National Clergyman of the Year in 1994 by the Religious Heritage Foundation. He was selected Man of the Year for Montgomery in 1978 and received the Distinguished Service Award from the Jaycees in 1979.

He serves on the board of directors for Colonial Bank and Colonial Bancgroup.

Mathison and his wife, Lynn, have three daughters – Vicki, Lauren and Clay – and one son, Si.