Rome, Ga. – Well-known Christian leader Rev. Bob Skelton is returning to Shorter University’s Christmas on the Hill President’s Gala for a second year. Skelton, who was the featured speaker at the inaugural event in 2018, will be master of ceremonies for the 2019 gala on Thursday, Dec. 5, in the Winthrop-King Centre.
Skelton credits Shorter for bringing him and his wife to Northwest Georgia. “I was in South Carolina at an event recruiting for Belmont, and I began talking with Dr. Kankakee Anderson, who was there representing Shorter,” he recalled. “We enjoyed our time talking. The next day I received a call from Dr. Randall Minor, the president of Shorter. He said, ‘We want to hire you to come to Shorter to be our director of admissions.’”
Skelton and his wife, Vicky, happily made the move to Rome where he headed Shorter’s admissions efforts for several years. Since moving to Rome, Skelton has served with distinction in ministry as a pastor, minister of education and interim pastor at area churches. He also became founding director of the WinShape Foundation.
Skelton attended Truett McConnell College and Belmont University, did graduate study in Education at the University of Georgia, and earned his Master of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He also received a certificate in Continuing Education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration.
Joining him on this year’s program is Shorter alumnus Cliff Duren, who serves as Worship Pastor at First Baptist Church in Woodstock. Duren arranges, orchestrates, and produces music resources for various publishers while also producing various artist recordings and has won three Dove Awards for his contributions to church music ministry resources.
Duren returned to First Baptist, Woodstock, earlier this year as the head of the church’s music ministry. He also served as FBC Woodstock’s Staff Arranger from 2006 to 2012, leading worship for the contemporary service and playing piano for the blended service with choir and orchestra. From 2012 to 2019, he was Worship Pastor at the Church at Station Hill, a regional campus of Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tenn.
Cliff became a Christian at age 17 and soon after pursued a music education degree from Shorter University and a master’s degree in church music from Lee University. In 2014, Duren released his first instrumental record, “Tune My Heart: Hymns of Worship Featuring Piano and Orchestra. In 2016, he released a follow-up record, “Tune My Heart: Christmas.”
In March of 2002, Cliff married his college sweetheart, April. The two have been leading worship together since they were students at Shorter. The Durens have four children; Mac, Sydney, Elijah and Emma Kate.
All proceeds from the event benefit Shorter’s Student Scholarship Fund.
“Supporters of the Gala truly impact the lives of our students as proceeds from the event go to fund student scholarships,” said Shorter University President Dr. Don Dowless. “Almost all of our traditional students receive financial aid, and for the majority of that group, scholarships make it possible for them to attend Shorter.”
Shorter University is offering sponsorship packages for the event, which may be purchased by calling 706-292-3900 or online at www.shorter.edu/gala.
“We have a number of sponsorship levels available, and we invite businesses, corporations, and individuals to partner with us in making a Shorter education available for an even greater number of students,” said Dr. Ben Bruce, Shorter’s Vice President of University Advancement. “We’ve put together sponsorship packages with benefits ranging from reserved seating to being featured on the event webpage and on screen at the event.”
In addition, general admission tickets are available for $50 each.
Founded in 1873, Shorter University is a Christ-centered, four-year liberal arts university committed to excellence in education. The Princeton Review annually includes Shorter on its list of best Southeastern Colleges. The university offers traditional bachelor’s degrees in 40 areas of study, online courses and degree programs, undergraduate programs for working adults, associate’s and master’s programs.