Oiesen-Williams Endowed Scholarship

Type: Endowed

Donor: Sarah Williams

Established: 2005

This scholarship was created to honor the memory and accomplishments of two dedicated musicians who loved the Lord and used the gift of music to spread the message of the Gospel.  Dr. Mabel Oiesen, Sarah Williams’ aunt, accepted the invitation by Dr. John Brown Sr. to come to John Brown University from New York City to create a music department because she shared Dr. Brown’s dream for a Christ-centered university.  Though the struggles were almost overwhelming, with God’s guidance and her tenacity, a formidable department was created from which many music majors studied and afterwards began lifetime music careers.  As the music department grew, the Cathedral Choir was formed.  While serving as its conductor, Mabel traveled with the choir extensively across the United States participating in worship services, radio and television programs.  A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD became the signature anthem closing every appearance the choir made.

James L. Williams, Sarah Williams’ late husband, came to JBU to study voice and prepare for full-time music ministry.  Sarah studied piano and organ.  Both dedicated themselves to full- time ministry and, upon graduation, they formed a music ministry team.  Together they served several large churches creating integrated choir programs with Christian education curriculum written by James.  He was an engaging man with many talents and skills: professional baritone soloist, choral conductor and clinician, college professor, visionary and developer of large youth choirs, which were on several occasions invited to tour churches in Europe.  At the time of his death, it was most apparent that his greatest legacy was the winning of souls through his ministry.

Sarah Williams’ career was also a witness of the power of the Lord and the training at JBU.  In addition to being a mother of three, an organist, and piano teacher, she has had the great privilege of teaching at Wheaton College in the conservatory of music and becoming its director of the Community School of the Arts.  During that time, one program was created between Wheaton College’s music education students and Daystar University students to serve school children in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya.  Sarah Williams’ prayer is that this scholarship will underline the power of music and how God can use humble servants to bring honor and glory to Him.