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Pepperdine Mourns the Passing of Joella Michael

Joella Michael headshotJoella Michael, director of operations for Church Relations, passed away on November 28 following a long illness.

Michael was raised in South Africa, the daughter of missionary parents. At the end of their time abroad, her family returned to Abilene, Texas, where Michael received her bachelor of business administration from Abilene Christian University.

Prior to Pepperdine, Michael served as the director of community relations for the Community House in Michigan and director of university communications at Hardin-Simmons University in Texas. She was a Certified Faith-Based Meeting Professional (CFMP), a member of the Religious Conference Management Association, and served on the board of Meeting Planners International Southern California Chapter.

For nearly 15 years, Michael expertly and purposefully developed and executed critical event details for Harbor: The Pepperdine Bible Lectures, working alongside Jerry Rushford, director of the Jerry Rushford Center for Research on Churches of Christ and the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, and later Mike Cope, director of ministry outreach for Church Relations. Due in no small part to Michael's dedication to and enthusiasm for bringing people together in fellowship, worship, and spiritual rejuvenation, the annual event has drawn thousands of Christians, missionaries, scholars, preachers, and singers from around the world to Pepperdine for a four-day Christian conference on the word of God. In addition, she facilitated the production of smaller conferences, workshops, and minister gatherings throughout the year.

Remembering Michael and her time at Pepperdine, Rick Gibson, senior vice chancellor, shared, “Joella cared deeply about every detail, making certain that Harbor reflected Pepperdine’s high standards and exhibited the University’s commitment to hospitality. Above all else, she was motivated by her commitment to Christ. She worked tirelessly to make sure the program would encourage and equip all participants and lead them into a deeper relationship with Jesus. She maintained this commitment while fighting her illness over the past five years. Her faith, courage, tenacity, and dignity were visible to each of us who worked alongside her as she fought an unimaginable disease while maintaining a strong work ethic. Her fingerprints are all over Harbor. Frankly, it is hard to imagine moving forward without her, but her example demands that we do so with joy and with confidence in the redemptive power of God through Christ.”

A memorial service will be held Saturday, December 17, at 11 AM at the Conejo Valley Church of Christ in Thousand Oaks. 

Faculty and staff who wish to receive pastoral care are encouraged to reach out to University chaplain Sara Barton. For those who wish to send condolences to Michael's family, please send cards, notes, or letters to: Office of Church Relations, Mail Code 4270. The Office of Church Relations will forward all correspondence to Michael's family.