Joy Gerig grew up with Fort Wayne Bible Institute, attending the summer camp meetings in the big tent where Founders Hall used to be. She attended college here in the early 1950s, and after serving as an Associate Pastor at Hopewell United Brethren Church, she returned to Fort Wayne Bible College in the late 1950s and remaining until her retirement in 1990. First she served as a secretary and Bethany Dorm Supervisor. In 1960 the college board appointed Miss Gerig to the Christian Service Department as acting Director. A year later she was appointed as the first full-time Christian Service Director. She immediately worked to develop an effective and efficient Christian service program, basing the program on best practices from several Bible colleges. Christian service assignments became a graduation requirement for every student, foreshadowing the field work experiences so common in today’s college programs.
Joy invested her life into co-workers and students. Her devotionals, chapels, and dorm meetings were valued for their spiritual insight. Her personal walk with the Lord was seasoned with prayer and caring for individuals. She took every opportunity to invest her life into others. This investment resulted in many, many lifelong friendships, long-distance counseling sessions and invitations to weddings. For years she was a Youth Conference advisor, holding student leaders accountable and helping/teaching them to follow through on detail. Her staff, Marilyn Dissinger, Jay Platte, Marilyn Grubb, Sue Strunk, Carol Neuenschwander, Lorraine Meek, and Dick Baxter who served with Joy for 21 years, teamed together to build a Christian Service program that came to the attention of the American Association of Bible Colleges as a model for other Bible Colleges to use in developing their programs.
As a further contribution to students’ education were the various manuals and guides which oriented, trained and educated students in their various tasks and responsibilities in their CS assignments. These manuals gave the scope and responsibilities as well as assessment tools by which students could evaluate their performance. Joy and staff also worked constantly with faculty to correlate assignments with majors so the practical work help prepare students for professions after graduation. As the program developed, By the mid 1980s the department became part of the Professional Studies Division. By 1988 every student was required to be involved in a Christian service internship program correlated with their major. The CS department provided this correlation.
Early in 1980, AABC requested that Joy and Dick Baxter give leadership to forming a professional association for Christian Service personnel where leaders could strengthen their programs through professional development and resource sharing. The Association of Christian Service Personnel (ACSP) was formed in 1981 and held its first meeting in Fort Wayne. Joy was elected vice president and later as President. A Handbook for Christian Service Directors was published in 1988.
As a result of her leadership, the Association presented a number of recommendations on Christian service to the AABC membership and they were approved.Furthermore, AABC approved and accepted a major revision of the standards used for evaluating Christian service programs. These standards remain to this day for all Bible colleges seeking accreditation.
After 30 years of faithful service, this quote from the 1990 North Central Accreditation Team final report is a lasting legacy of a job well done…
“The Christian Service program is much more than a requirement for graduation; it is an integral and outstanding component of the Summit Christian College education; it is well-organized and effecting in coordinating students from across all academic programs with extensive community resources.“
Joy Gerig continued to serve the Fort Wayne campus up to her homegoing through as an active member of the Alumni Counsel, through mentoring students, and through an active prayer life.