Kelly Pays Tribute to Kristen Stauffer Todd During Chapel Service

September 5, 2014

Before speaking on the scheduled topic, Kelly gave a heartfelt and moving tribute to Dr. Kristen Stauffer Todd, OBU professor of music history, who passed away suddenly earlier this week. Kelly's moving and stirring words were a beautiful tribute to the remarkable impact she made on all who knew her:

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The kingdom of God and the parables of Luke. We'll get to that in a moment.

But it would be impossible to ignore the fact that this morning, our hearts are broken and bleeding. We are grieving today not like those who have no hope. And we grieve not for Kristen Todd. She is with God in full, in ways we can only know in part. We grieve not for Kristen. We grieve for ourselves, for her daughters, for her husband.

And we have hope, because her life was committed to Jesus as Lord. You could see it here, you could see it in her classroom, you could see it with her door open and students coming to see her, pouring their hearts out to her, she pouring her life out to them. You could see it as she and Phil teach the youngsters at First Baptist's Sunday School class, my own son being one of those children. Her life was committed to Jesus as Lord, and because of that, we have such great hope today. But our hearts are still broken.

We know that she lives in the presence of God today and the day is coming as the song said when Jesus will appear in the clouds with a voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God and with a shout of command and the dead in Christ will rise first. We know that. We also know that she will live on in the lives of her students. She will live on in the stories we tell and the memories we have of her.

On this morning, on this day, there is no place that I'd rather be than in this building with you. There's no place I'd rather be because this place has become a 'thin' place. This auditorium is one of those places where the distance between heaven and earth gets very thin. This is one of those places where time and memory merge.

There's a lot of celebration in life that happens in this place. And there's also a lot of mourning and grief, and because of that, it is a sacred place. I have sat in this auditorium as students walk across the stage in December and in the spring, and your name is called, and you receive your diploma, and you shake the hand of the president, and your family is here, and there is no greater affirmation of life and joy than that moment. Students have proposed in this building, and in other parts of this building. Joy and celebration and life takes place here, and also mourning and grief.

I've been here through the memorial service of James Hurley, Dick Rader, Tom Dowdy. For many of you, those names might not ring a bell, but they do for those who have been around a while. This is a sacred place. This is where I want to be today, and there's no people I'd rather be here with, than you: my colleagues, my students, this community.

So, what will we do now? Well, we'll go on with the Kingdom of God and the Parables of Luke. We'll go on with classes today. But I hope you'll take the time to listen to Beethoven, maybe download some on iTunes. Maybe watch an opera. Wear your Brunhilde helmet. Don Giovanni might not be a bad choice. Sit down with someone and have a cup of coffee. Tell someone that they're far more brilliant than they realize that they are. And this Sunday, you pull for the Dallas Cowboys.

-- Dr. Bobby Kelly, 9/3/14, in tribute and memory of Dr. Kristen Stauffer Todd.