Oral Roberts University launched a week of 50th anniversary celebration events Monday afternoon with a ribbon-cutting and grand opening of the Oral Roberts legacy exhibit center on the first floor of the prayer tower in the center of the campus.
The exhibit has high-tech audio and video presentations telling the Oral Roberts story and displays of his personal Bibles with hand-written notes in the margins, letters from national figures like evangelist Billy Graham and President George W. Bush, sermon notes, and a place to listen to some of his old sermons.
“We wanted a place on campus that would be enshrined for a long time, to help people remember who Oral Roberts was,” ORU President William Wilson said after the ribbon-cutting.
“We have a lot of students who come to this campus now who don’t really know who Oral was.”
He said the prayer tower draws some 4,000 visitors a month from around the world.
“We also wanted them to be able to see some things about Oral and understand more about ORU,” he said.
Roberts, founder of ORU, died in 2009.
At the ribbon-cutting in the gardens around the prayer tower, 1st District Congressman James Bridenstine said the 50th anniversary celebration is a “really, really big deal for the 1st District of Oklahoma. … What an amazing achievement.”
He said that his office employs three ORU graduates.
“They’re professional. They’re well-trained. They’re well-equipped. … We are very intertwined with this university,” Bridenstine said.
Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith said the ORU campus, with each passing year, “becomes more and more important to the history of our region.”
“I look forward to your work as you continue to make this an incredible university with a reputation known around the world,” she said.
Tulsa Regional Chamber President and CEO Mike Neal said, “ORU has been an economic anchor to our region for many years.”
The school’s global reach “brings thousands of bright young people to our city, enhancing our diversity and strengthening our workforce,” Neal added.
He said ORU has been “a phenomenal partner” with the chamber by providing the skilled, educated and trained workforce that employers need.
Wilson said that ORU has served more than 40,000 students from 83 countries over the past 50 years, students who have gone “around the world to over 100 nations, carrying God’s healing grace, being at the top of their trade.”
“We’re at a season at ORU where we’re dreaming again,” he said, “pausing, breathing deep, giving God thanks for what he has done over 50 years. But also lifting our head toward the horizon to see what might be in the days ahead.
“It’s a wonderful season for us,” he said, citing seven years of increased enrollment, as well as operating in the black and without debt. “But we’re also thinking about what God wants us to do as we enter the next 50 years.
“We’re very excited about the future.”
Wilson said lifetime global achievement awards will be presented this week to 50 people “who have made a significant difference and have represented ORU well around the world over the last 50 years.”
The awards will be presented at the 50th anniversary gala Friday night at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel & Convention Center, and all 1,200 seats are sold out. Will Graham, grandson of Billy Graham, and Gigi Graham, Billy Graham’s daughter, will speak. Billy Graham spoke at the ORU dedication in 1967.
Dove and Grammy award-winning vocalist Sandi Patty will sing.
Original Article on TulsaWorld.com