Previous Christmas Luncheons
2021-2022 Christmas Luncheon Speaker: Tonya Riggle
Tradition speaks again with The Guild Christmas Luncheon taking place at the River Oaks Country Club. After not having the luncheon last year – ladies came with a joy to get to experience our special time together.
The doors opened with the tables decorated with Christmas Poinsettia centerpieces – enjoyed by all and then could be purchased. The speaker – Tonya Riggle – had an encouraging message that was so fitting for each heart to embrace. Her enlightening words were so perfect for the time of year. The music was provided by Scott Belin which filled the room with a musical touch that made the event so special and lifted the spirit. The meal was delicious, and the atmosphere prepared our hearts for the Christmas Season. Dr. Sloan shared the HCU vision of what is going on at the University. Judy Craig recognized committee members and other special guests.
This luncheon is such a special time and everyone that attends loves seeing dear friends and hearing how God is blessing the ministry of Houston Christian University.
Chairman for the event this year were – Nancy Henderson and Cyndi Jacobson. A special Thank You to the Committee members – Mary K. Ford, Mary Hudson, Carolyn Moreno, Susan Redding, Sharon Saunders, Mon’Sher Spencer, Karen Tallon, Kathy Thompson, Cathy Wheatley, and Jan Witham.
2019-2020 Christmas Luncheon Speaker: Janet Croswhite Denison
On December 6, Guild President Cheryl Kaminski welcomed guests to the River Oaks Country Club to celebrate The Guild’s annual Christmas Luncheon, co-chaired by Ann Beeson and Dena Williams. Author and luncheon keynote speaker, Janet Denison, delighted the audience with a poignant, yet humorous account of her experiences as an HCU student, where she met her future husband, Jim. Together the Denisons have served a number of churches, developed ministry programs, and currently share the truth of God’s word through the Denison Forum, a nonprofit Christian media organization founded by Dr. Denison.
Eric Mingle, Guild scholarship recipient, expressed his appreciation to The Guild for providing him the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree. To date, The Guild Scholarship Program has assisted 165 HCU graduate students in completing their degrees.
2018-2019 Christmas Luncheon Speaker: Mary Jo Sharp
On December 7th, the ladies of The Guild and their guest once again enjoyed the annual Guild Christmas Luncheon at River Oaks Country Club. We were pleased to welcome Mary Jo Sharp, MA, faculty member of HCU’s School of Christian Thought, as our featured speaker. Our event Chairs are Rhonda Ekhom & Lynn Keisewetter.
Mary Jo is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. She is the founder of Confident Christianity apologetics ministry through which she is an international speaker and debater. Her current work focuses on developing apologetics events, online apologetics education, and expanding the role of apologetics in social media as an influence in culture.
2017-2018 Christmas Luncheon Speaker: Laurie Shook
Laura Shook is one of the founding pastors of Community of Faith in Cypress, Texas, where more than 8500 people now worship together each weekend. Community of Faith has been listed as one of the top 100 churches in the country. Laura is a gifted speaker and teacher. She sets the tone for the international ministries of the church, bringing an awareness of global issues as a tireless advocate for the broken and forgotten. She is a graduate of Baylor University and is a Registered Nurse. Laura is the author of Forever Hope, the story of her journey through cancer and recovery; and Prayers For My Children, a daily prayer guide for parents. Laura loves ice cream, reading, travel, and spending time with her husband, Mark, and their children and grandchildren.
2016-2017 Christmas Luncheon Speaker: Nancy Guthrie
This season’s annual Guild Christmas Luncheon was held in the ballroom of the incomparable River Oaks Country Club which was beautifully adorned in Christmas splendor. Elegantly lit Christmas trees and wreaths were the table centerpieces representing Jesus as “Light of the World.”
The Guild President Ruth Alford opened the event by warmly welcoming the nearly 300 guests. HCU students Jakora Frazier and Kevin Punnackal, vocalists, accompanied by pianist Jessamine Sikes and trumpeter Everardo Chavez, performed the spirited song “Angels We have Heard on High.”
Ashley Wright, Director of College Guidance at Second Baptist School and recipient of the Sharon Saunders Endowed Scholarship, continued the program by sharing remarks of appreciation to HCU and The Guild.
Dr. Robert Sloan enthusiastically reported on the many history-making milestones which occurred at the University during the year and provided a glimpse into exciting developments still to come. Dr. Sloan also announced the naming of the Grace Gandy Endowed Scholarship. Following the invocation by The Guild Chaplain Peg Harman, guests enjoyed a beautifully presented, delicious holiday meal topped off with a milk chocolate and dulce de leche tart dessert.
A rendition of “It Wasn’t His Child” was performed by Jakora Frazier and Kevin Punnackal accompanied by Jessamine Sikes, pianist, preceding the introduction by Guild Vice President Cheryl Kaminski of guest speaker Mrs. Nancy Guthrie. Mrs. Guthrie led us on Ruth’s journey of grace and redemption from the Old Testament Book of Ruth.
Dr. Sloan delighted Mrs. Guthrie by presenting her with a framed, rare Bible page from The Dunham Bible Museum which contained a page from the Third Chapter of the Book of Ruth.
In her closing remarks, Christmas Luncheon Co-chair Kathleen Evans thanked her hard-working committee members and recognized her fellow Co-chairs Cookie Peeler and Colleen Fellows. Their combined efforts produced not only a fabulous event, but also demonstrated true examples of The Guild teamwork, hospitality and joy of celebrating the birth of Christ!
Jakora Frazier and Kevin Punnackal concluded this unforgettable afternoon by leading all in song with a very fitting selection of “Joy to the World.”
2015-2016 Christmas Luncheon Speaker: Kelly Siegler
On December 9, more than 400 Guild members and guests arrived with holiday spirit to enjoy the Guild Christmas Luncheon at River Oaks Country Club. A crystal clear day and the beautifully appointed setting
helped set the tone for another successful event.
Following welcoming remarks by Guild President Jan Witham, HCU alumni Mon’Sher Spencer, JJ Worthen and Mac Gervais performed a beautifully planned and executed music program which included lovely
presentations of “Mary Did You Know?” and “The Prayer.” Joshua Hilburn, recipient of the Dr. Robert B. Sloan, Jr. Endowed Scholarship, expressed gratitude to The Guild for providing him the opportunity of continuing his graduate studies at HCU. Jan then presented a $20,000 gift to Dr. Sloan for The Guild Institute in Christian Family Studies. As he thanked The Guild for their generosity and support of The Guild Institute, Dr. Sloan also shared that the University is continuing to grow in recognition and accomplishments in many areas, as well as in student enrollment.
Keynote speaker Kelly Siegler captured everyone’s attention with her presentation of “Waiting on God,” sharing experiences she encountered while working as a former Houston prosecutor as well as those she encounters currently in solving real-life cases on TNT’s program, Cold Justice. She noted that life can be ugly, good people do get hurt … and we don’t always understand why. She referred to the lyrics of an old hymn – We’re trusting in the Lord, and according to His Word, we will understand it better by and by. Kelly affirmed that from her experience, she has witnessed that sometimes good can come from bad. The framed Bible page presented to her by Dr. Sloan came from the book of Amos – a perfect selection as according to those scriptures, justice will be served.
The centerpiece angels that graced our tables were purchased and taken home to be enjoyed year round as the perfect reminder of this most special time of year. Christmas Luncheon Co-chairs Nancy Shomette and Jan Rule thanked all their committee members – stating that it takes a team to plan and execute a beautiful event. We ended the celebration singing our traditional luncheon close – “Joy to the World.” It truly was a memorable event!
2014-2015 Christmas Luncheon Speaker: Martha Turner
For the first time in many years, the venue for this season’s annual Guild Christmas Luncheon was the ballroom of the incomparable River Oaks Country Club which was beautifully adorned in holiday splendor. Elegant lifelike Nativity scene figurines were table centerpieces and served as a poignant reminder of the reason for the season.
HCU Guild President Jan Witham opened the event by warmly welcoming the nearly 400 guests in attendance followed by prayer and commencement of the luncheon service. HCU’s Dr. Jason Lester, Chairman of the Department of Music, and Associate Professor, and Dr. Alina Klimaszewska, Staff Pianist and Vocal Coach, entertained with a riveting musical performance. Guests enjoyed a beautifully presented, delicious holiday meal topped off with a special ice cream dessert.
Ms. Shelby Hooper, the Sharon Saunders Endowed Scholarship Recipient for 2014, continued the program by sharing remarks of appreciation to HCU and the Guild.
Excitement ensued as Jan Witham presented Dr. Sloan with a gift of $10,000 for the Guild Institute in Christian Family Studies Endowment. Dr. Sloan enthusiastically reported on the many history-‐making milestones which occurred at the University during the year and provided a glimpse into exciting developments still to come.
A rendition of “O Holy Night” was performed by Dr. Laurie Lester, Adjunct Professor of Voice at HCU, along with Dr. Alina Klimaszewska, preceding the introduction by Guild Vice President Ruth Alford of Guest Speaker Martha Turner of Sotheby’s International Realty. Ms. Turner mesmerized the attendees by recounting “The Rest of the Story” of her amazing life in a humorous yet very touching and inspiring way based on her personal “10 Action Steps for Walking in Faith.” Dr. Sloan delighted Ms. Turner by presenting her with a framed, rare Bible page from The Dunham Bible Museum’s collection which contained a specially chosen verse: “She considers a field and buys it . . . Proverbs 31:16”.
Closing remarks were shared by Deany Meinke, Cheryl Kaminski and Judy Craig, the Co-‐chairs of the event. The luncheon celebration is the ultimate example of Guild teamwork, which included an additional 31 Committee members stepping forward to serve in a variety of capacities. Dr. Jason Lester concluded this unforgettable afternoon by leading all in song with a very fitting selection of “Joy to the World.”
2013-2014 Christmas Luncheon Speaker: Mary Willis
How did you begin this Christmas season? For many, the thought of the holidays means blurred schedules creating frantic paces while we attempt to set the spirit of Christmas in our hearts. This year The Guild Annual Christmas Luncheon raised the bar with a special celebration filled with amazing music, delicious food, inspiring speakers mixed with fun and laughter.President Robert Sloan delivered a special message on the “hope” of Christmas, and Andrew Johnson, recipient of the Robert B. Sloan, Jr. Endowed Scholarship and Senior Pastor of Faith Memorial Baptist Church, thanked The Guild and shared his amazing journey.The Guild was especially blessed to have Mon’Sher Spencer return to share the gift of her beautiful singing. Mon’Sher returned by popular request from four years ago, again bringing what has been described as her velvety voice that was not only heard but felt, pouring the true meaning of Christmas over all of our hearts.
Mary Willis of Merry Ministries, set the tone for this holiday season by challenging us to “Get Your Sparkle On”, delivering a motivational and inspirational message capturing the essence of Christmas. “Jesus, the Light of the World”, born at a time when His birthplace was considered the “crossroads of the world.”
2012-2013 Christmas Luncheon Speaker: The Honorable Jennifer Walker Elrod
Co-Chairs Shirley Asel and Peggy Hicks, along with their committee members, did a fabulous job of planning the The Guild Christmas Luncheon. On December 7 the Hilton Houston Post Oak ballroom was aglow with lighted, decorative lanterns on each table as ladies gathered together with much anticipation for this annual Guild event. The Kings Men of HCU, accompanied by Dr. John Yarrington, set the tone by opening the program with beautiful Christmas carols.
Guild Scholarship recipient Mike Skinner, who currently serves as a teacher and pastor, spoke of the many benefits his scholarship had afforded him; Dr. Sloan gave an update of all the great things happening on campus at the University and brought a special Christmas message; and Guild President Debra Perich presented Dr. Sloan with a $10,000 gift to The Guild Institute in Christian Family Studies.
After a delicious lunch, The Honorable Jennifer Walker Elrod gave a very inspiring message about the journey she had traveled to become appointed a federal judge on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. She related her appointment, overcoming many obstacles, to King Jehosephat of Judah in II Chronicles. Her inspirational message was accentuated with quick wit and humor and was a great way to start our Christmas season.
As a gift to Judge Elrod, the Guild presented her with a framed page from the Bible with the scripture from which she based her Christmas message, II Chronicles 20:17. The Bible page was from a Bible printed pre-1650, which came from an irrepairable Bible donated to the Dunham Bible Museum in the Morris Cultural Arts Center.
We concluded by singing Christmas carols to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus.
2011-2012 Christmas Luncheon Speaker: Debbie Taylor Williams
This year’s Christmas Luncheon was a huge success and well attended by over 350 Guild members and their guest, who enjoyed music, food and inspiration for the Christmas season.
Attendees were entertained by HCU alumni, Ryan Beasley, Lucy Girgawy, Jeremiah Joseph and Mon’Sher Spenser, one of our Guild members. The music pierced our souls and prepared our hearts for the message from President Robert Sloan, Jr. and Debbie Taylor Williams of the Hill Country Ministries. Debbie Taylor Williams lead us through the Christmas journey of Mary and Joseph and encouraged our ladies with the reminder that we too are favored, filled with the spirit and blessed as believers in Christ through our journeys with the Lord. Dr. Sloan graciously took us through the Biblical prophecy of the coming of the Christ Child.
Guild President Anne Roper presented Dr. Sloan with a $25,000 gift towards the Guild Institute for Christian Family Studies Endowment. Everyone enjoyed their lunch that was so lovingly prepared and served by the Hilton staff under the ceiling of stars that reminded us of the birth of Christ. The annual luncheon was an elegant affair enjoyed by all who attended!
2010-2011 Christmas Luncheon    Speaker: Sue Sloan
The Christmas Luncheon was truly an HCU family affair when the members and friends of The Guild enjoyed a delicious luncheon at the Hilton Houston Post Oak. Greeting our members was the newest publication on campus, written by our own Dr. Don Looser, An Act of Providence, a book celebrating 50 years of HCU history. As the voices of HCU’s Schola Cantorum, directed by Dr. John Yarrington, filled the room with the sounds of Christmas, we were reminded of the excellence in education that HCU affords its students. The luncheon guests were once again encouraged with Dr. Sloan’s Christmas message, an inspirational Christmas tradition that seals the true spirit of Christmas in our hearts. Guild President Sharon Corry presented Dr. Sloan with a gift of $50,000 for The Guild Family Institute endowment. Brian Cuthbert, our scholarship recipient, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity the scholarship has provided.
Anne Roper introduced First Lady Sue Sloan who presented us with a delightful story of her journey to HCU. How inspiring it was to hear how God led her and Dr. Sloan to be part of the history of HCU. As a final gift, Sharon Corry presented Sue with $75,000 toward the Sue Sloan Endowed Scholarship. We were truly blessed this Christmas as we witnessed the compassion, direction, and loving favor of our Savior Jesus. Co-Chairs Debra Perich and Katie Thompson, and their committees, put together a gorgeous luncheon that was truly a high spot for this holiday season.
2009-2010 Christmas Luncheon    Speaker: Cathy Jodeit
The annual Christmas Luncheon, hosted by Annette Duggan and Judy Elleson, was a special highlight on the calendar. HCU School of Music faculty Dr. Melissa Marse and Melissa Givens entertained the crowd of some 400, and featured speaker Cathy Jodeit shared a Christmas message. In observance of the University’s 50th anniversary, Guild President Kandy Brittain presented Dr. Sloan with a check establishing The Guild Institute for Christian Family Values.
2008-2009 Christmas Luncheon Speaker: Evelyn Husband Thompson
Evelyn Husband Thompson was the featured speaker at The Guild Christmas Luncheon on December 5 at 11 am at the Hilton Houston Post Oak. On Feb. 1, 2003, when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart just minutes before its scheduled return to earth, America lost seven heroes. Evelyn Husband, wife of Columbia’s commander Rick Husband, lost much more—the love of her life, the father of her children, the backbone of her family. Author of High Calling: The Courageous Life and Faith of Space Shuttle Columbia Commander Rick Husband (Thomas Nelson, 2004) and noted speaker, Evelyn travels throughout the U.S. encouraging audiences with her story of triumph over tragedy and her message of finding hope in the midst of life’s trials.
- 2007-2008 Christmas Luncheon Speaker: Judy Graham
Earlier Christmas Luncheon Speakers
2006-2007 Speaker: Joanna Weaver 2005-2006 Speaker: Sadie Hodo 2004-2005 Speaker: Gloria Gaither 2003-2004 Speaker: Francine Rivers 2002-2003 Speaker: Colleen Swindoll Dane 2001-2002 Speaker: Beth Moore 2000-2001 Speaker: Jennifer Rothschild 1999-2000 Speaker: Ruth Graham McIntyre 1998-1999 Speaker: Susan Baker 1997-1998 Speaker: Tammy Hotsenpiller 1996-1997 Speaker: Mamie McCullough 1995-1996 Speaker: Dee Jepsen 1994-1995 Speaker: Marge Caldwell 1993-1994 Speaker: Jeannette Clift George 1992-1993 Speaker: Carolyn Sundseth 1991-1992 Speaker:
Joyce Landorf Heatherley
1990-1991 Speaker: Dee Jepsen 1989-1990 Speaker: Dr. Amy Freeman Lee 1988-1989 Speaker: Jody Conradt 1987-1988 Speaker: Patty Ellis 1986-1987 Speaker: Elizabeth Swank 1985-1986 Speaker: Dr. Jo Stanchfield 1984-1985 Speaker: Emance Rejebian 1983-1984 Speaker: Dee Jepsen 1982-1983 Speaker: Vonette Bright 1981-1984 Speaker: Calvin Marsh 1980-1981 Speaker: Carolyn &
Dr. Claude Rhea
1979-1980 Speaker: Phyllis Prokop 1978-1979 Christmas Program at HCU 1977-1978 Christmas Party on Campus 1976-1977 Theatremen
Directed by Virginia Babikian