Taylor University is very pleased to announce that a $6 million gift has been committed to enhance the capacity and reach of the Center for Missions Computing (CMC). This exciting expansion is made possible by Elaine Vandermeulen ’62 and her late husband, Gordon ’65.
“Every aspect of missions today is facilitated by computer technology whether in the United States or the global church,” said Elaine Vandermeulen. Because of her love for God and Taylor’s impact on her family, Elaine considers it a joy to make a transformational investment in the CMC.
History: An Ongoing Legacy
The Center for Missions Computing is marked by a fervent conviction to serve the global church, a rich legacy of student leadership, and a deep friendship between individuals with a shared vision for using technology to the glory of God. Gordon and Elaine Vandermeulen had a cherished relationship with Wally Roth, a longtime professor who founded the Computer Science Department at Taylor in 1978. He developed the Computer Assistance Program (CAP) in 1980 in an effort to demonstrate how technology could be used to support missionary organizations.
In 1980, the first project was for Wally Roth and Gordon’s father, Gus Vandermeulen, to put a computer on board a ship operated by the Christian ministry Operation Mobilization (OM). Taylor computer science students were asked to build a computerized book inventory system for the many educational and Christian books the ship distributed at ports around the world. In 1987, Rob Hanlon, Gordon and Elaine’s future son-in-law, through CAP, served in Germany with OM, writing additional software for the procurement of books and supplies for the ships. Operation Mobilization ships are still using the software today.
The Vandermeulens supported the work of the Center by helping raise funds for CAP in its early days. In 2007, the Computer Assistance Program became the Center for Missions Computing. Their relationship continued, and in 2021, Rob Hanlon approached the Computer Science Department about growth opportunities for financial giving. Hanlon noted, “We have seen the significant impact of technology in missions over the past 40+ years by those who humbly started the efforts and those who have carried the torch forward to now become the Taylor University Center for Missions Computing.”
For many years the CMC has developed software for Christian organizations, trained missionaries in technology use, and partnered with various organizations such as Wycliffe Bible Translators and Navigators to update their Bible Memorization app.
Currently, Taylor students and the CMC are making a difference in the global fight against human trafficking by joining forces with LoveJustice International to develop online tools to monitor and reduce sex trafficking. LoveJustice reports, “To date we have intercepted over 35,000 individuals to prevent them from being trafficked.” This is just one of several nonprofits that Taylor’s Center for Missions Computing has served through computing expertise, technology resources, software engineering services, and project management.
Although the CMC has accomplished much over the years, a few constraints have kept the Center from reaching its full potential: limited staff availability and sustainable funding. Many Taylor faculty members have volunteered their time and resources for the Center, but they have done so on top of full teaching loads and other commitments.
Needs and Vision
This transformational gift will provide endowed funds to hire a full-time director who can shepherd students and projects with an undivided focus. This gift will also provide scholarship money for students who commit their time and skills to the Center’s mission of developing relationships with missionary organizations, seeking out projects and building software as needed.
Impact: Taylor and Beyond
The impact of this generous gift, one of the largest ever received at Taylor, is two-fold. It gives computer science students more opportunities to practice their computing skills and grow in leadership. It also impacts the mission field and serves the Church.
“This gift takes the CMC’s ability to fulfill its mission to a whole new level by providing strategically valuable technical services to missionary organizations, and by building a pipeline of future leaders who will help meet the technology needs of the global church,” said Dr. Stefan Brandle, co-chair of the Computer Science Department.
Taylor University is deeply grateful to Elaine and Gordon Vandermeulen for this gift that will make a difference in the lives of Taylor students and the world beyond. In celebration of this gift, the Center will be renamed the Roth Center for Missions Computing to honor the legacy of Wally Roth and his vision for how our computer science students could serve Taylor students and the global church.