Community members gathered at Judson University Wednesday for a morning of prayer -- for families and friends, government officials and churches and religious leaders. The annual prayer breakfast filled Judson's fitness center with hundreds of community leaders and five nominees for a volunteer service award.
Ed Hunter, regional vice president of mission services for Presence St. Joseph Hospital and Presence Mercy Medical Center, won the award in 2012. He presented this year's D. Ray Wilson Service Award, recognizing the dedication of Mary Rees Freeman.
"This year's recipient has the heart of a servant leader," Hunter said.
Rees Freeman has been a member of the Parks and Recreation Board for the Village of South Elgin since 1997, she served on the board for the Altrusa International Club of Elgin, volunteered with Elgin Cooperative Ministries and as the Aquatics Director for Fox River Country Day School before it closed. She has been a member of multiple parent teacher organizations, served with the League of Women Voters and on the board of the YWCA Elgin.
Other nominees were Brian Borkowicz, Tricia Dieringer, Bill Kennedy and Sue Moylan.
Incoming Judson President Gene Crume Jr. gave the keynote address at the breakfast, speaking about the joy of relationships.
"We're not a university, we're a home of thousands and thousands of relationships," Crume said. "That's what a community is too -- a home for relationships."
Ben Calhoun, singer and guitarist for the Christian rock band Citizen Way and a Judson grad, performed two songs at the breakfast. After Crume's speech Calhoun said relationships are key to his memories of Judson. The university is where he met his wife, bandmates and good friends.
"This morning I am consistently reminded of the relationship factor in my life and what this school has done for me," Calhoun said. "You have literally helped lay the foundation for my career."
This fall Judson will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its relocation to Elgin as well as the centennial celebration of its founding as part of the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1913.