This Christmas, Preston Manning and TWU ‘Think Big’

Langley, B.C.—Preston Manning made an impact on national politics that is unprecedented in Canadian history. In less than ten years, against all odds and with only a grass roots group of volunteers, Manning succeeded in co-founding the Reform party, an official Opposition. In 2000, he became the key founder of the Canadian Alliance. Today, Manning is recognized as a statesman with an influential voice in the broad political scene.

In much the same way, Trinity Western University’s advancement is the result of ‘big’ thinking. Over the past four decades, TWU has evolved from a college of 17 students, to a degree-granting university of over 3,500 students, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctorate degrees. It’s this mutual willingness to think big that makes Manning an ideal keynote speaker for the University’s 2003 Christmas in the City gala at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver, November 30th, 2003.

The gala will be a formal, festive evening, ushering in Christmas tidings through music, fellowship and atmosphere. According to Peter Legge, last year’s keynote speaker, the 2002 gala was “…a wonderful event. It’s like being in phantom of the opera,” he says. “The decor was a unique blend of mystique and extravagance.”

Returning to emcee for the evening will be the former host of Life Network’s Canadian Living Television and TWU alumna Sharol Josephson. Musical features include Lonnie Delisle, music pastor and distinguished alumnus who, in recent years, has been a featured tenor soloist and keyboardist for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s gospel concerts. He will duet with Eva Newman while Les Nerling, a graduate of McGill and Hochschule für Musik in Vienna, will accompany on the piano. Two TWU students, Roxi Dykstra and Jessica Hannula, will be featured as well, playing the viola and harp, respectively.

The event’s purpose is three-fold. To celebrate Christmas, raise awareness about TWU and raise money for student scholarships. As a great start to the nearly sold-out event, an anonymous donor has agreed to match any donation made at the event, up to $340,000.

The donor’s generous initiative illustrates Preston Manning’s speech topic and the title for his new book, ‘Think Big.’ Manning will speak on leadership development, a topic this former MP is more than qualified to discuss. And in keep in the spirit of generosity, each guest will receive a copy of Manning book, as the cost has been underwritten by Ronald Blue & Company, Canada.

When Manning left Parliament in 2002, Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe described Manning as “…a man of action, a man of ideas. He has the conviction that anything is possible. He has shown outstanding courage.” (CNEWS, 2002)

Doris Olafsen, TWU’s Vice President for Advancement agrees. “Preston is forward thinking, innovative and responsive,” she says. “He’s also a man of integrity, who, because of his authenticity, has garnered respect and credibility.”

Olafsen is pleased to have such a voice within Canada speak with and on behalf of TWU.
“He’s a passionate educator,” she explains. “His involvement at the University of Toronto, the University of Calgary and the Fraser Institute speaks to his intentional engagement with higher education in Canada. The general public issues that concern TWU concern Preston as well.”

And though Olafsen is pleased with the prestigious keynote speaker, the gifted musicians, and the elegant atmosphere, for her the most important part of Christmas in the City is something different.

“The best part about the gala is that it allows guests to experience TWU first hand,” she says. “And that doesn’t come from a program, but from the story-tellers.” The ‘story-tellers’ Olafsen refers to are the senior level TWU students who will host each table.

“We’re training future leaders to be influencers in the marketplace,” says Olafsen. “We’re introducing these students to leaders who are making a difference in Canada right now, and in turn we want to inspire those leaders with what we’re doing. Christmas in the City is intended to be an experience, an experience that gives hope.”

“Plus,” she adds with a twinkle, “everyone loves to eat and it’s fun to get dressed up—especially at a gala to start the Christmas season.”

Christmas in the City takes place November 30th, 2003 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver. Tickets are $150 a plate, or $1,500 a table. For more information contact Terry-Lynn Dryfhout at (604) 513-2121 ext. 3307or email

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,500 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 38 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counseling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2015-07-13
Author: Keela Keeping