GWU Alumnus Will Lead Celebration Week Services from Jan. 28 to Feb. 1

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Chris ‘Checkerz’ Williams Speaking on the Theme, ‘Living on Mission’

A portrait photo of GWU Alumnus Chris "Checkerz" Williams, guest speaker for annual celebration servicesBOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—A 1997 alumnus of Gardner-Webb University is the guest speaker for the annual Celebration Week services, held this year from Jan. 28 through Feb. 1. Chris “Checkerz” Williams, pastor of Renew, a multiethnic and multigenerational church in Baton Rouge, La., will preach on the theme, “Living on Mission.”

Services are open to the public and begin Tuesday, Jan. 28, with Dimensions at 9:25 a.m. in Tucker Student Center. Evening services on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be at 7 p.m. in Dover Chapel. Thursday morning’s service is at 9:25 in Dover Theatre. Students will participate in the services by leading music, offering prayer, and reading scripture.

Sarah Lail, a senior Associate of Science in Nursing student, helped to coordinate the event. “I love participating in Celebration Week, because it is such an encouragement for me spiritually, mentally and physically,” Lail shared. “We get to spend quality worship time with our peers and acquaintances—aside from everything that is taking place in our daily lives.”

She and Williams decided on the theme after discussing possible topics. “Prior to consulting with Checkerz, I was thinking about the following themes: whole hearted living, radical love and humility,” Lail related. “Checkerz explained that he wanted to preach on the importance of serving God where we are currently at in life. So together we decided that the focus was going to be on humility and service. He expressed his interest in naming the theme ‘Living On Mission.’”

Williams attended Gardner-Webb the same time as Neal Payne, GWU associate minister for Student Ministries. Payne said “Checkerz” nickname comes from Williams’ rapping and hip-hop talents. After praying about who should speak for Celebration Week, Payne felt led to ask Williams. “Chris loves the Lord, and I know that he will speak truth, and I trust that he will honor God in all he says and does,” Payne affirmed. “His testimony also is pretty amazing.”

GWU Alumnus Chris "Checkerz" Williams gestures as he stands on a stage preaching.Williams, who was a part-time evangelist for 15 years, left his banking career in 2009 to go to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisiana with a goal to become a full-time pastor. Before his last semester in seminary, he was called to pastor Celebration Church in Laplace. While he was there, the church tripled in weekly attendance. In March 2017, he answered God’s call to start Renew, a church that believes every person is created in the image of God and should be treated with dignity, respect, love and compassion.

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 48 hours prior to the event. Please call 704-406-2155 or email with your request.

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a place where Christian compassion meets critical thinking. A private, Christian, liberal arts university, Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective servant-leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at