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[ alumni awards ]
MNU 2008 awards:
A story of wide-ranging
accomplishments
No single definition of “giving back” defines
MNU alumni. This year’s award winners
are recognized for mission work, medical
achievements and business entrepreneurship
Alumna of the Year:
At mid-life, Carla responded to that call and returned to
Carla (Johnson, ’83) Sunberg
school in the U.S., graduating from Nazarene Theological
Seminary in 2004 with a degree in theology. She was ordained
For Carla Sunberg, the field of mission work was always a
that same year.
“mission fit.” Sunberg was born in Germany, the daughter of
Currently Sunberg is pursuing a Ph.D. in historical theol-
missionaries and former General Superintendent and wife, Dr.
ogy through the University of Manchester, England. In 2005
Jerald and Alice Johnson.
the Sunbergs moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where Chuck is
Moving to the United States when she was in elementary
senior pastor at Grace Point Church of the Nazarene and Carla
school, the Johnsons eventually settled in Overland Park, Kan.
is on staff as pastor of evangelism and discipleship.
Sunberg graduated from MidAmerica in 1983 with a bachelor
The Sunbergs have two daughters, Christa and Cara. Both
of science in nursing.
are pursuing careers in the ministry at Olivet Nazarene Uni-
She practiced nursing in Kansas, Missouri and Texas until
versity.
she, her husband Chuck, and
Alumnus of the Year:
their two young daughters
James Lee Thornton,
moved to Moscow, Russia in
1992. The Sunbergs became
M.D., F.A.A.P. (’77)
pioneer Nazarene missionaries
Destiny seems to have
to the former Soviet Union.
carried Jim Thornton into a ca-
At that time, Carla relates,
reer of leadership and compas-
her father told her, “Every-
sionate service.
thing you’ve ever done in
Thorton graduated from
life has prepared you for this
MidAmerica summa cum
moment.”
laude with majors in biology
When she thought back to
and chemistry in 1977. While a
her years at MidAmerica and
student, Thornton was MVP of
all the experiences she had
the tennis team for three years,
there, she had to agree. The
student laboratory director for two years and senior chemis-
Sunbergs lived in Moscow for
try student of the year in 1977.
13 years where Chuck served as field director and Carla was
A pastor’s son from Wisconsin, Thornton moved with his
first director of compassionate ministries, then director of
family to Ottawa, Kan. in 1968 and remained in the state
theological education.
through medical school at the University of Kansas, residency
In 1999 while traveling in the U.S., Chuck commented to
at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and a pedi-
Carla, “If you were a boy, you’d be the preacher in the family.”
atric practice in Fort Scott through early 1990.
That became a defining moment as she remembers thinking it
Thornton and his wife Sandy (Lyle) a 1979 graduate of
seemed that God responded, “So, why aren’t you?”
MidAmerica in secondary math education moved to Han-
6 | Accent magazine | Spring 2009
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