On Saturday, April 19 at 11:30 a.m. a spark was kindled at the landmark stone in Northwood, Ohio, where the college began 160 years ago. A number of people with historical ties to Geneva participated in the sparking ceremony, including: President Emeritus Joseph W. McFarland (serving 1984-1992) with his wife Roberta; and alumni whose roots date back to Northwood, Ralph McKelvy, his wife Dawn and cousin Maribel. Director of the Logan County Historical Society Todd McCormick, and dozens of people from the Logan County area also participated in the sparking event to light the torch.
Once the flame was sparked, a contingent led by Vice President of Marketing Ed Vencio and Publications Manager Jenny Pichura transported it across Ohio. Upon reaching the Pennsylvania border at 5 p.m., the contingent stopped to meet up with Director of Security Dennis Damazo, nurse Connie Erwin and a bus provided by McCarter Coach and Tour filled with torch participants ready to help carry the flame to Geneva. Three local municipalities – Chippewa, Beaver and Beaver Falls – along with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, provided police escort during the entire relay.
Participants were taken to their spots on the course and waited for the arrival of the torch. Passed from hand to hand across 12.5 miles of roadway, the torch made its way to College Hill in the three-and-a-half hours projected for the event.
Led by public relations intern and course coordinator Rima Warren, six students volunteered to serve as course captains for the event. According to Allison Perry, one of the course captains, “Each of us organized the participants on our own leg of the journey and made sure people were at the right places at the right times. It was cool to be part of something that involved the community and to see so many people come together, with everyone having a role in the event.”
Getting off the buses after they had carried the torch, participants shared smiles and laughter. “That was awesome!” and “I’ll never forget this day!” were common refrains among the torch bearers.
“It was neat to see all the families and college students and alumni doing this together,” noted participant Ryan Cerbus. “It was especially fun hanging around Old Main afterwards. It made me realize that I am part of a very special community. ”
The last person to carry the torch was Josh Lee, president of the Student Senate. Amidst sirens from a Beaver Falls fire truck and cheers from both sides of College Avenue, Josh lifted the torch and made his way around Old Main Circle to where President Ken Smith was waiting.
President Smith placed the torch in a stand and discussed God’s blessings on the college during its 160-year history. He noted that the Christ-centered foundational concepts of the college remain integral to the institution today.
The evening’s wind and drizzling rain did not stop the candle-lighting ceremony, fireworks or the festive mood of the crowd at Old Main.
“To everyone who participated in this event, we extend a warm thank you,” expressed Director of Public Relations Cheryl Johnston. “This was really not about a torch, a flame or even an anniversary. Ultimately, this was a celebration of the mission of the institution, the community of Geneva College and the transforming light of God.”
Geneva College is a comprehensive Christian college of the arts, sciences and professional studies. Founded in the tradition of the Reformed Christian faith, Geneva prepares students to serve Christ in all areas of society: work, family and the church. Geneva is a founding member of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU).