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Hello Westmont 1989 alumni!

I hope this email finds you all doing well! As your new Class Agent for 1989, I have the pleasure of writing a series of quarterly newsletters for our graduating class to help you stay connected with your fellow alumni and keep you informed of the latest news and events occurring at Westmont. You'll also hear from others in our class about what they've been up to since their time at Westmont. My hope is that you'll remain an active member of the ever-growing Westmont community and find your place of involvement in the ongoing life and mission of the college.

I also hope you'll enjoy hearing from our friends and former classmates, and I welcome any of you who would like to share what you've been doing these last 22 years since leaving Westmont. Contact me by email at classagents@westmont.edu.

For our first newsletter, I'd like to start by sharing an update of what I've done since my time at Westmont...

The summer after graduation, I headed straight for Denver, Colorado where I graduated three years later from Denver Theological Seminary in 1992 with an M.Div. From seminary I moved to Utah (is anyone surprised by that decision?) where I was called to serve on staff of Washington Heights Baptist Church in Ogden, UT, and where I was ordained to the Gospel ministry on June 13th, 1993. After three + years of ministry at WHBC, I was honored to become the founding pastor of a small Baptist Church called Ogden Valley Baptist Church where I served for just about 2 1/2 years before spending one semester teaching Bible and PE at a Christian School in the Ogden area (glad I got that out of my system. A high school teacher I was not meant to be). In June of 1998, I joined the staff of Orem Evangelical Free Church in Orem, UT.

Click to see photo of Greg, Jill and their familyPrior to joining the EV Church in Orem, as many of you know, a fellow Westmonster and basketball star, Noel Matthews was tragically killed in an automobile accident while living in Germany. He left behind his wife Jill Westover Matthews, also a Westmont graduate, who was pregnant with their first child. In October of 1996, Jill gave birth to a girl, Indiana Noel Matthews. Long story short, two years after Noel's death, our amazing God guided Jill and I to marry on June 20th, 1998, and immediately start a new family (husband and dad on the same day, what a deal!). Jill and I enjoyed nearly three years of church ministry together and the birth of our first son, Reagan Chet Brandon Johnson in Nov. 1999. Yes, and I know that no one is surprised that I named my son Reagan, but his middle name is Chet (after Kammerer, who was highly responsible for Jill and I becoming man and wife). And yes, he has four names, Brandon was his cousin who also died in a car crash just months before Jill and I were married and who was born on the same date that Reagan was: Nov. 12th. And finally, yes, his last name is Johnson, because in 1998, after having the high honor of praying with my biological father, whom I didn't even know until I was 14, to receive Jesus Christ as his Savior, I changed my name to Gregory Charles Vettel Johnson, embracing my actual family name as a symbol of the reconciliation between father and son.

Well, I should wrap this up. We added two more girls to our family in 2002, California Jan and American Joy in 2005 (yes, there are stories for their names too, but we'll save that for another time). Ten years ago, Jill and I left our local church ministry to start a mission organization here in Utah called Standing Together (standingtogether.org), which is an effort to advance biblical unity among Utah churches and pastors and spiritual transformation in Utah. Our ministry allows me to engage directly with senior Mormon thinkers and leaders from the academy (like BYU) and top LDS leaders. In 2007, I wrote a book with a BYU professor, Dr. Bob Millet, called, Bridging the Divide; the Continuing Conversation Between a Mormon and an Evangelical. In 2004 our ministry made history by hosting Christian Apologist Ravi Zacharias at the Mormon Tabernacle on Temple Square, something the Mormons had not allowed since 1899 when they allowed a guy named D.L. Moody to speak there. Then in 2009, we made more history when we hosted famed evangelist Nick Vujicic, the young Australian born without any arms or legs (look for him on You Tube and you'll be amazed), at the Tabernacle where he actually gave an alter call. Wow, I can hardly believe it myself, and I was there!

So, enough about me, I'd love to hear from some of you, take a few minutes to do what I just did and catch us all up on you and yours! Westmont binds us all together, weather we were close friends or not back between 1985 - 1989, we all are connected by our days at Westmont!

Still Exploding for Christ,

Greg Vettel Johnson '89

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