One Thousand Days Transformed - The Campaign for Cedarville

by Beth Cram Porter

Home. A powerful word. When people find out I was born and raised in Texas, the first question they often ask is, “How did you get to Cedarville?” My answer is always the same: “The breath of God blew me here!”

This is really quite true. I was as happy as Adam’s house cat living in North Carolina when God began working His hidden plan for me. In 1996, I found myself interviewing for an open voice faculty position at Cedarville University. I didn’t know exactly where Ohio was! All I knew was it was somewhere north of Texas and North Carolina. It took looking at three maps before I found one that actually showed where Cedarville was!

Professor Emeritus Chuck Clevenger was the Chair of the Department of Music then, and he hired me. In 1997, I began my career at Cedarville University. For at least two years after arriving in Ohio, I would ask myself, “How did I get here? How did all my worldly possessions get here?” God is the only explanation I have. He works in mysterious ways.


The Dixon Ministry Center (DMC) opened in the fall of 1996 and became my new home when I moved here in August of 1997. My daughter, Anna, was 3 years old at the time, and she basically grew up in the DMC, becoming quite an excellent critic of good and bad vocal sounds at a very young age! I’ve privately awarded her an honorary doctorate in music!

I have walked the halls of the DMC for 27 years; I have taught hundreds of students; I have attended hundreds of concerts and recitals; I have laughed and wept with countless students, precious colleagues, prospective students, and their families; and I have been transformed. I am a new creation. God is the only explanation I have. He works in mysterious ways.

Come stroll with me through the Bolthouse Center for Music and let me tell you about the amazing department I call home. Dr. Dixon’s statue is a great place to start. I remember what I was wearing when I interviewed with Dr. Dixon in November of 1996. These days, I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast.

Dr. Dixon and Mrs. Dixon are dear friends of mine and of so many who are reading this. As president, he was a great supporter of music and the arts. He would sometimes invite me to join him on the speaking/preaching engagements he enjoyed while he was president. He often requested that I sing The National Anthem “à la Sandi Patty,” and it was my joy to do so. God used His Word, whether spoken or sung, to advance His Kingdom and to transform me. Even as I gave back to God through song, God was recreating me. He works in mysterious ways.

On any given weekday morning, you will find the DMC classrooms full of music students studying Music Theory, Aural Skills, Diction for Singers, and Vocal Pedagogy. You’ll hear Dr. Curlette’s booming voice as he enthusiastically teaches, admonishes, and prays for his beloved students. Dr. Lilite, the newest faculty member in the department, teaches Vocal Pedagogy and Diction for Singers at 8 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays! Singers do not make noise or breathe until 2 p.m., but Dr. Lilite’s beautiful integration of his faith and masterful teaching wake the students right up!

Dr. Yang’s courses in Music History for sophomores and juniors meet in the late morning in these spaces. Her classes are full of music-making, with small ensemble days, listening quizzes, research, and writing. If you take her face-to-face Global Music course, be prepared to do cardio! I think this class should count toward a physical education elective! I wish you could hear Dr. Yang’s beautiful prayers at the beginning of class.

The classroom teaching is excellent from all department faculty. The Lord has built a phenomenal, world-class faculty in this department at this school we may affectionately say is in the middle of the cornfields. He works in mysterious ways.


Private lessons are taught morning, afternoon, and sometimes evenings. The halls are alive with the sound of music. Peek into Dr. Mortensen’s studio and you will most likely see him sitting in the green chair by the window, intently listening to his students. You might find Prof. Connie Anderson ’73 clapping and doing a happy dance with her students! “Prof Troth” is sitting at the piano and playing for her contemporary voice students, whether they are singing Caro Mio Ben or a beloved hymn arrangement. Prof. Chilcote, or “Dr. Chill,” as I call him, sits right next to his contemporary guitar students, guiding them through a myriad of guitar techniques.

Prof. Elias stands next to his violin students, listening and playing passages with and for his students. Dr. Jenkins '97 has his saxophone around his neck as he demonstrates note bending or other basics of saxophone pedagogy. Dr. Jaquith and his music composition students sit in front of huge computer screens as they define and refine their original music. You may think we are only teaching music, but we are really teaching life, and Jesus, and life with Jesus. God is the only explanation I have for the transformative power of music. He works in mysterious ways.

The afternoons in the DMC are reserved for department ensemble rehearsals. Our beloved Senior Professor Dr. Lyle Anderson '70 directs the Concert Chorale with love and passion. He is a beautiful example of steadfastness and perseverance. The Wind Symphony and the Jazz Band are in the capable hands of Dr. Jenkins. Have you heard Dr. Jenkins’s impersonation of the late Dr. Dave Matson '60? It is spot on! Both Dr. Anderson and Dr. Jenkins are Cedarville University alumni. They are living proof that the department prepares students for lifelong professional careers in music.

Prof. Elias and the University Orchestra stay very busy both on and off campus playing the standard orchestral repertoire. Dr. O’Neel directs Jubilate, our worship leading choir. “Jubes” rehearses in DMC 164, across from the Christian Ministries office. They sing the music of today’s church enthusiastically.

Our worship bands, Resonance and Rekindle, led by “Dr. Chill,” are on the road as often as our HeartSong Ministries teams. Like HeartSong, they represent the University and the Gospel very well. I direct the Women’s Choir, and they are amazing … in spite of their crazy director! I am confirmation that God works in mysterious ways.


I love listening to the cacophony of sounds coming from the studios and rehearsal spaces. The kaleidoscope of music reminds me of the creative genius of God. God used His voice and spoke creation into being. He created our earthly home through His words. His beautifully ordered plan for creation was perfect, without blemish or flaw. He created everything out of nothing — ex nihilo (Gen 1:1–31). How amazing that we, His children, get to participate in creating music that will lift high the name of Jesus and point others to the Gospel.

Can you believe what God has done at Cedarville University? Can you believe He allowed a sassy soprano from Texas to be part of His Kingdom work in the fertile farmland of Greene County, Ohio? Oh, the wonder of it all. The only explanation for Cedarville University is God. The only explanation for Beth Cram Porter is God. He works in mysterious ways.

This is my Father's world, and to my listening ears

all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.

This is my Father's world: I rest me in the thought

of rocks and trees, of skies and seas, his hand the wonders wrought*

* Maltbie D. Babcock, “This is My Father’s World,” Verse 1, 1901, The Baptist Hymnal (Nashville, TN: Convention Press, 1991), 43.

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