Making peace in all its forms

Saturday, February 20th, 2010
Galen Miller '74 of Goshen is the owner of Miller Poultry in North Orland, Ind. (www.millerpoultry.com)

Galen Miller '74 of Goshen is the owner of Miller Poultry in North Orland, Ind. (www.millerpoultry.com)

MAKING PEACE: With business

When food banks in Northern Indiana accepted 25 tons of chicken at the height of the economic crisis last winter, they may not have realized that this generosity was business as usual for Galen D. Miller. “He’s a very generous person and he’s an excellent business person,” said Gordon Yoder ’52, a lifetime friend of Miller’s who nominated him for the Culture for Service Award.

Miller lives out “Culture for Service” in his compassionate treatment of others – from his employees right down to his baby chicks, which are raised in small flocks and healthy conditions primarily on Amish farms. “He applies his faith to running his business and integrates his values into his work,” said Don Yost ’72, another friend. Miller works with about 350 employees, who include many Hispanic immigrants. “He understands and adapts to both the Amish culture and Latino culture,” said Yost. “His employees exhibit a loyalty and work satisfaction that is inspired by a leadership style based on Christian principles of humility, honesty, candor and compassion.”

Miller’s ethical business practices have led to a product that is widely popular throughout the Midwest. “We do an all-natural, all-vegetable fed, antibiotic free, hormone-free chicken program, and there’s been a lot of interest in that kind of product,” Miller told the Goshen News in a January 2009 article. Yoder explained that Miller seeks out the latest technology that “decreases environmental stress and increases safety over the industry standard.”

Miller’s faith also is reflected in his generosity and in service to the community. “His support of a wide variety of causes is low-key and responsive to need,” said Yost. “He seeks to understand where help is needed and asks for no recognition. …Galen not only promotes peace and justice through the causes that he supports, he also manages his business in ways that promote peace and justice.”

– By Julie Weirich

John Martin '74<br>Columbus, Ohio<br>Director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (dodd.ohio.gov)

John Martin '74 of Columbus, Ohio is the Director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (dodd.ohio.gov)

MAKING PEACE: With government

John Martin’s two years at Goshen College served as a precursor to a lifetime of service to his family, the state of Ohio and to people
with disabilities.

Martin completed his bachelor’s degree in special education at Illinois State University and earned a master’s degree in community psychology at Temple University. Throughout his career he has been a tireless advocate for the disabled, serving as a special education teacher, as director of Sunshine Inc., an Ohio Mennonite agency serving individuals with disabilities, and since
2007, as director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities.

With Martin as executive director, Sunshine Inc. gained a statewide reputation as a religious-based agency that offered the highest quality services. “His choices and decision-making reflect a mindfulness of the need to not only profess faith in God, but to put that faith in action,” said friend and board member of Sunshine, Inc., Karen Rich Ruth ’76. “Those around him could sense Martin’s fairness, respect and acceptance of people no matter who they were.” During Martin’s 23 years there, Sunshine grew tremendously, adding 17 group homes and a variety of programs including a spiritual life program and a Fair Trade coffee shop staffed by persons with disabilities.

Martin helped to resolve conflicts between the state of Ohio, service providers, and county boards and advocated with the Ohio state legislature on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities. His reputation as a peacemaker drew the attention of the Ohio governor. In 2007, he was appointed to the cabinet-level position of director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities. At the state level, said Ruth, Martin “has helped to resolve some longstanding conflicts … and sought input during this time of fiscal crisis. His Christian faith is the foundation of all he does.” The Martin family came to know the issues of people with
disabilities in a personal way when their second child, Joel, was born. He was diagnosed at nine months of age with cerebral
palsy, a seizure disorder and developmental disabilities. Joel lived with his parents until he was an adult.

– By Julie Weirich

Cristina Hernandez '00 (pictured second from right) is the Curriculum Adviser at Turqouise Mountain Foundation (www.turqouisemountain.org) and design/product development consultant

Cristina Hernandez '00 (pictured second from right) is the Curriculum Adviser at Turqouise Mountain Foundation (www.turqouisemountain.org) and a design/product development consultant

MAKING PEACE: With women in Afghanistan

Cristina Hernandez is living in Kabul, Afghanistan – what some consider the most dangerous place on earth – but says that she and her friends and neighbors have adjusted to the bombings and threats by the anti-government Taliban. “If there is an explosion in the city, people don’t go to that side of the city, but every morning little girls get up and go to school and people get up and have breakfast as a family. People go to work and go to the market or the bazaar. There is normalcy amid the chaos,” she said. “Millions of people see Afghanistan as their home. And now, it’s my home as well.”

How Hernandez ended up in Afghanistan – helping women learn design skills and run successful export businesses – is a story of servant leadership and global citizenship. She followed the footsteps of her sister, Carla, and graduated from Goshen College with a major in art and a minor in business. After graduating, she returned to her native Honduras to become a potter and to help artisans develop sustainable small businesses through two U.S. groups – Partners of the Americas and later, Aid to Artisans.

When the project ended, Hernandez spent a year in Vietnam as a volunteer with Mennonite Central Committee, helping
artisan partnerships with Ten Thousand Villages. After her one-year assignment, she stayed for another three years to teachEnglish and work with artisans. In 2007, she returned to work for Aid to Artisans, but this time in Afghanistan. She helped start
a center to help women learn about product design, and business export development. She now works there for the Turquoise
Mountain Foundation, and helps women fulfill their dreams by starting family businesses specializing in jewelry, embroidery,
textile, felt and wool rugs.

Hernandez said she is committed to helping the Afghan women and cannot imagine leaving, even if the Taliban regains control of the country and again subjugates women. “Most of the husbands of the women I work with are supportive of having their daughters have an education, of having their wives have a business,” she said. “If the Taliban came back into power, they would continue supporting their wives and their daughters.”

Hernandez said that she is sustained by the lessons she learned at Goshen College – and by her faith. “The wonderful thing is I
can see God everywhere. He is everywhere and is not limited to my church or my little community,” she said. “Muslim people
and Christian people love God and they want to serve God and they take joy in family and in unity. For me, those are the commonalities and they create very strong ties between my culture and their culture.”

– By Richard R. Aguirre

Carrie Newcomer '80 of Bloomington, Ind. is a Folk singer-songwriter (www.carrienewcomer.com)

Carrie Newcomer '80 of Bloomington, Ind. is a Folk singer-songwriter (www.carrienewcomer.com)

MAKING PEACE: With the arts

Carrie Newcomer has a passion for making a difference in the world one song at a time. “I think often in regards to peacemaking,
immediately people think of a certain kind of activism. But I’ve come to believe that our most potent activism comes out of what
we love most deeply,” she said. “I am a songwriter and an artist, so some of my most potent activism comes out of the arts.”

Newcomer recently returned from a fall trip to India as a cultural ambassador where she performed concerts on her own and with Indian musicians, taught songwriting workshops and visited slum programs for women and children. “Music can be a language deeper than words. I love our differences,” said Newcomer about her impressions of India. “Cultures are rich, and what makes each culture unique should be celebrated, but I was also powerfully moved by what we share as a human family.”

This musician, who has toured with Alison Krauss and Union Station and been praised by Rolling Stone magazine, returned home to prepare for the Feb. 23 release of her 12th solo album, Before and After (Rounder Records), a recording that celebrates change and transformation. Ten percent of the profits of the album sales will go to a health, hunger or social justice organization, a practice Newcomer has had with every new album for the past decade.

“What we are and what we believe should be evident in our daily lives,” said Newcomer, whose albums combine her musicwith stories from her own unique spiritual lens. Peace and hope are often themes in her songs – which combine the sacred and the ordinary – but often with a bit different approach. “It is really hard to write about world peace. You just can’t get your arms around it,” said Newcomer, who first encountered Quakers on Study-Service Term in Costa Rica and now attends a silent Quaker meeting. “But I can write a small story that gets to the bigger idea. And peace happens on a daily, personal level.

She added, “Hope is an unstoppable phenomenon in my estimation. I chose not to write Disney songs a long time ago. We know when someone is candy coating it and that doesn’t go very deep. When someone speaks the truth clearly and simply, it changes the world just a little bit. I’m not closing my eyes to what’s wrong or the cruelty we are capable of, but I am choosing to open my eyes to what’s right and really possible.”

One of the lyrics on her new album speaks to this: “The greatest revolution is a simple change of heart.” Though Newcomer went on to graduate from Purdue University, she said her two and a half years at Goshen “had the largest impact on me at that time in my life.” She didn’t grow up in a family of artists and musicians, so it was at Goshen that she earned to embrace that passion and consider the possibilities.

– By Jodi H. Beyeler

Steve Thomas '86 of Goshen, Ind. is the pastor at Walnut Hill Mennonite Church and director of Peacemakers Inc.

Steve Thomas '86 of Goshen, Ind. is the pastor at Walnut Hill Mennonite Church and director of Peacemakers Inc.

PEACE: With martial arts

Steve Thomas, a pastor at Walnut Hill Mennonite Church in Goshen, said he was inspired to study and eventually teach martial arts by a somewhat unlikely source: John Howard Yoder ’47, the world-renowned Mennonite theologian and ethicist who advocated nonviolence and pacifism. While studying for his master of divinity degree at Associated Mennonite Biblical
Seminary, Thomas recalled that Yoder delivered a lecture in which he encouraged Mennonites to learn aikido, a Japanese art of selfdefense based on principles of nonresistance.

“As a student, that made no sense to me – to learn this art for nonviolence and to teach others,” Thomas said. “Too often in our
witness, we have been very clear in what we don’t do, but we have not been as clear in what we do, such as in terms of responding to
violence and how to teach our sons and daughters how to respond to violence.”

Popular movies and TV shows have given martial arts an inaccurate and bad reputation, Thomas said. “I typically remind people that historically martial arts originated as systems to teach a philosophy of peace and a way of peace.” Thomas said most traditions of martial arts have as their essence nonviolence, empowering people with a philosophy of peace, and a system for counteracting violence. More than just restraining violence, martial arts offer a proven way to reduce aggression, increase self-control and form respect for others. The only “fighting” that martial arts encourages, Thomas said, is conquering the enemies within – fear, anger and inner conflicts.

After becoming a pastor, Thomas said he started taking classes in Tae Kwon Do, a Korean art of self-defense. By the mid-1990s
he was teaching it to others. Eventually, Thomas, his brother Phil Thomas ’87 and Wes and Karen Higginbotham, both gifted
instructors of Tae Kwon Do as well as members of Thomas’ congregation, developed the Peacemakers, Inc. program. Its mission: to empower people to live in peace by training children, youth and adults in verbal and physical skills for preventing violence and transforming conflict. The program served nearly 700 children, youth and adults in the community in 2009 and now is being offered at two local elementary schools – Parkside and Chamberlain.

Besides his work as a pastor and with Peacemakers, Thomas teaches the core Goshen College course “Transforming Conflict
and Violence” as an adjunct professor of peace, justice and conflict studies. Among the goals of the course are to try to link
the college with the community and to explore the effective application of nonviolence in daily life. “We explore how to
extend the way of Jesus and be peacemakers in our family, community and the world,” he said.

– By Richard R. Aguirre

Rachel Halder '10 is a senior communication major and women's studies minor from Parnell Iowa. (perubracelets@gmail.com)

Rachel Halder '10 is a senior communication major and women's studies minor from Parnell, Iowa. (perubracelets@gmail.com)

MAKING PEACE: With bracelets

With 2,000 bracelets, one Goshen College student and dozens of Peruvian women, a town struggling with drugs, gangs and poverty is using art to slow that cycle.

When Rachel Halder returned home to the United States in 2008 from her Study-Service Term in Peru, with about 200 colorful hand-woven bracelets made by a group of Peruvian teen-age girls, she was amazed at how quickly they sold, and how much the money she collected would be able to help the people of the poor Peruvian coastal town Chimbote, where she spent six weeks serving at a local parish.

“I was definitely surprised at how much it took off and how much people were sincerely interested in the project,” Halder said. “It’s obviously a passion of mine because I have the personal connection to the area, but I’ve been surprised at how supportive others have been.”

The parish serves the community through many programs, but when Halder was asked how she wanted to help at the parish, there was one group not being served – young women. She told the parish she wanted to start a group like one created to keep young boys off the streets. The first day, eight girls, ranging in age from 12 to 18 years old, agreed to meet with her regularly.

“Our original goals were to prevent the girls from falling into the traps of other people in the community, like prostitution and teen-age pregnancy, and give them motivation and encouragement to not give into sexual and drug pressures,” Halder said, “but also to give them something to do”

Then a fellow at the parish introduced Halder to a group of women who make souvenirs for tourists, and suggested they teach the girls how to make hand-woven nylon thread bracelets. At that moment, her support group found an entrepreneurial niche and a new source of income.

So far since returning Halder has been able to follow through with her vision. Selling the $5 bracelets to family and friends, and at music festivals, farmer’s markets and the Mennonite Church USA Convention, she has sent more than $6,000 directly to the community in Chimbote and has sold about 2,000 bracelets. The money is used to buy more supplies to keep making bracelets and has also been used to start chocolate-making, hair cutting, cooking and artisan businesses. “It’s to help show them they’re worth more than their society tells them they’re worth,” Halder said. “It’s to show them a future other than what they see around them.”

– By Tyler Falk ’09

Anthony Brown '71, Artist-in-Residence at Hesston College in Kansas, founded the Peacing It Together Foundation (www.peacingittogether.org)

Anthony Brown '71, Artist-in-Residence at Hesston College in Kansas, founded the Peacing It Together Foundation (www.peacingittogether.org)


Anthony Brown is not just transcending language through his music. He’s also transcending nationalities and religion
while promoting peace and goodwill around the world.

An accomplished baritone and artist-in-residence at Hesston (Kan.) College, Brown brings people together across divides of race, nationality, religion and culture through musical events sponsored by his Peacing It Together Foundation, which is based in Hesston.

Brown said his years at Goshen College left an indelible imprint on his life and served as a foundation for his career of peacemaking as a licensed psychotherapist, musician and teacher. “The theological understandings I gained at Goshen College are to some extent impacting my current work for peace in the world,” he said. “There are so many people at Goshen who helped to shape my understanding of Jesus and his call for compassionate service to others.”

Brown’s work has taken him to such political hot spots as Bosnia, Northern Ireland, China, Japan, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Uganda, South Korea and Ethiopia. Through each performance, Brown connects people and helps them focus on how all are part of the family of humanity. He also partners with other musicians who share his passion for peacemaking.

“In my international travels, while on stage, I often say that the earth is my house and in it are many rooms. I tell audiences that I discover that the people of this room are very much like people in other rooms I have visited. They have the same fears, hopes and dreams,” Brown said. “Music is an effective tool in creating conditions where people can think in new ways about themselves and their adversaries. Music speaks the universal language of the heart and can touch and change us in profound ways.”

Brown, who has appeared widely as a soloist, recorded his first compact disc of African American Spirituals in 1995 and his second in 2002. His compact disc “Embracing American Song” (1999), offers a wide array of American songs from the romantic ballad to classic American folk songs. And he released his fourth recording in 2006, titled “Each Other’s Light” with songs of peace, hope and justice.

Brown said he hopes to continue his work throughout the world. “Surely, we all need to be involved in the sacred work of peace building on the local, national and international levels,” Brown said “Our civilization needs all of its citizens to be involved in this creative process.”

– By Richard R. Aguirre

Being hospitable to a broader definition of peace

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Eric Harle y ’97 Researcher at IBM Lagrangeville, N.Y. Artwork from second grade

Eric Harley ’97, artwork from 2nd grade.
Read Eric's statement »

By Joseph Liechty ’78

The genius of “Healing the World, Peace by Peace” is that it serves simultaneously as a celebration of what Goshen College is and as a prod to live out what we proclaim. Reflection on our commitment to making peace in all its forms, for example, reveals considerable successes, such as our Study-Service Term, the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center and the Music Center’s Community School of the Arts.

It also shines a light on our absences and subtle failures. One such area of success and failure on the Goshen College campus is hospitality. Many students and faculty members from diverse backgrounds have found a true home here, and yet too many others – whether because of their religious affiliations, socioeconomic status, ethnic/racial identities or political views – have graduated or departed while still feeling like outsiders.

Lisa Koop ’99 Immigration attorney Chicago, Ill. Artwork from age 6

Lisa Koop ’99, artwork from age 6.
Read Lisa's statement »

In truth, I have an obsession with peace as hospitality that arises from having spent most of my adult life – 1980 to 2003 – as an outsider in Ireland doing mission work with a focus on reconciliation. I survived and eventually flourished only because so many people were willing to take me in and to make me at home. The story that best encapsulates for me the gift I received concerns a tea-break epiphany in Belfast. There were perhaps 15 of us present; some were just acquaintances, others had been good friends for a long time, and one had been what I can only think of as a guardian angel. I went over to get another cup of tea and, for a moment, I was on the outside, watching the others. It occurred to me: “Wow. I’m really the odd one out here. In fact,

I’m the odd one out at least three times over.” I was the only Mennonite, the only American among the Irish and the only Dubliner in a room full of Belfast people. “I’m the odd one out,” I thought, “and I’m completely at home.” That was to me a sacred moment, a paradox alive with significance, and I felt a deep contentment.

Bryan Falcón ’95 Co-founder of the Web-based software Haiku Learning Systems Tucson, Ariz. Artwork from age 9

Bryan Falcón ’95, artwork from age 9.
Read Bryan's statement »

In 2003, I returned to Goshen College to teach in the peace, justice and conflict studies program. Now I was an insider at least three times over – as a Mennonite, as a child of a former faculty member, as an alumnus. I brought with me a desire to repay my great debt for hospitality received by doing what I could to extend hospitality to those at GC who would feel in some senses outsiders.

From my point of view, hospitality and peace have become inseparable. Peace almost always has to do with relationships; healthy relationships can be the goal of peace, the form of peace, the means of achieving peace. To practice hospitality, then – to build and sustain positive relationships – is to nurture peace.

For a teacher, hospitality starts in the classroom. At the beginning of most semesters, I tell my students about my tea-break epiphany, and I say that this class succeeds only if you feel free to be as different as you want to be, as different as you need to be, and also completely at home. It has been exciting to discover that the equitable teaching practices that make a classroom more hospitable for students representing a minority identity are actually the practices that promote the best learning for all students. An equitable class is structured so that every student has opportunities to find, express and develop her voice – no one is silenced, and all benefit from the variety of voices. In this case, the obligations of hospitality lead to a comparatively easy, win-win situation.

Jerem y Garbe r ’96 Ph.D. candidate at the University of Denver (Colo.) and the Iliff School of Theology, concentrating in philosophy, theology and cultural theory Artwork from age 9

Jeremy Garber ’96, artwork from age 9.
Read Jeremy's statement »

Sometimes, however, how to be hospitable is far from obvious and it complicates decisions. A good example was campus work over the past year on whether to break with Goshen College tradition and play the national anthem before athletic contests. For that GC tradition and for many Mennonites, the decision not to play the anthem arises from a faith stance that resists the sometimes-idolatrous claims of nations. Many students, faculty, and staff from other faith traditions, however, regard the anthem as an appropriate expression of national allegiance. Conceived of as an issue of faith and national allegiance, the decision about whether to play the anthem was difficult in practice, but conceptually simple, because faith must trump every other consideration.

However, add to the decision-making mix another faith issue – hospitality as a form of peace – and the decision about whether to play the anthem became more complex and conceptually difficult. The national allegiance quarrel remains in all its gnarly integrity, and yet, hospitality required us to think through some key facts that are invisible when viewed solely through the faithfulness lens: most of the GC student-athletes affected, for example, are from other-than-Mennonite religious traditions and would strongly prefer to play the anthem, and what we mean to be saying by not playing the anthem is inscrutable to visitors who don’t know our tradition and convictions. However, if hospitality complicated the national anthem issue, it was also a resource. Hospitality is always about love of neighbor, and that leaven can provide new ways to conduct the quarrel, and perhaps to transform it.

Erica Friesen ’98 Costume Shop Manager for The University of Chicago’s professional theater in residence. Artwork from age 8

Erica Friesen ’98, artwork from age 8.
Read Erica's statement »

In deciding to allow the playing of the national anthem before games (see p. 17), the President’s Council gave balance-tipping weight to hospitality. What the President’s Council has not done, however, is to imply that the faith motivations behind the previous practice are antiquated or wrong. If anything, the decision is rooted in a confidence that GC remains a place where students and faculty are sensitive to excessive expressions of national allegiance, and a hospitality-driven decision to allow playing the national anthem will not change that.

Considering hospitality did not tell Goshen College what to do about playing the anthem. In fact it raised the stakes and made the discussion more complex. But in this case, more complex discussion also meant more broadly and deeply considered, and therefore more honest and fruitful. Nurturing an institution where it is possible for all to be as different as they want to be, as different as they need to be, and completely at home, is a challenge of the highest order for everyone involved. When we get it right, the rewards are commensurate with the challenge. There is a peace for all present in these moments, these relationships, these places; we glimpse the grace and hospitality of God. Perhaps we even reflect it.

Joseph Liechty is professor and director of the Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies program at Goshen College and editor of the Journal of Religion, Conflict and Peace (www.religionconflictpeace.org). Liechty led the campus task force that recommended the national anthem be played before some sports events at Goshen College.

Thanks to Professor Emerita of Education Kathryn Aschliman for providing artwork of College Mennonite Church Bible School participants, who went on to become GC alumni. Read their statements on what peace means to them »

Goshen College’s 111th commencement

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

President Jim Brenneman welcomed the graduates to the 111th Goshen College Commencement by recalling their college journeys of hard work, late nights of study, deep learning, joyful memories, countless questions and guidance by faculty members.

Goshen College’s Class of 2009 received degrees Sunday, April 26 after being encouraged to take a leap of faith by President James E. Brenneman and to have courage and to persevere by Union College President Stephen Charles Ainlay, a 1973 Goshen College graduate.

Photos from Commencement 2009 »

A highlight of this year’s commencement was the conferring of the college’s first master’s degrees. Three students – Mallory Kuhn of Spencerville, Ohio; Nayla Jiménez Cabezas of Cartago, Costa Rica; and Todd Weston of Lee’s Summit, Mo. – graduated with Master’s of Environmental Education degrees. The program is based at Goshen’s Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center near Wolf Lake, Ind.

The Class of 2009 consisted of 236 graduates – three of them candidates for master of arts degrees, 175 candidates for bachelor of arts degrees, 18 candidates for bachelor of science degrees, and 40 candidates for bachelor of science in nursing degrees.

At a morning baccalaureate worship service in the college’s Church-Chapel, President Brenneman encouraged graduates to take a leap of faith with the assurance of landing in the embrace of God.

“I’ve found it to be true that God’s will for a person’s life is often, though not always, only known clearly and unambiguously in hindsight. Going forward, one’s life often appears, as the Apostle Paul says, ‘through a glass, darkly,’ like leaping into a dimly lit future,” Brenneman told the graduates, their parents, family members and friends, as well as college faculty and staff.

“Even those of you who have a well-developed plan, a straight line from graduation to a dream job or graduate school or voluntary service or marriage or parenting, your logical, methodical small step forward today may in hindsight 20 or 30 years from now look a lot like the giant leap that it is destined to become.”

For example, Brenneman said that two years after graduating from Goshen College, he and his wife, packed their belongings into their car and headed nearly 2,000 miles to California for what they thought were a few years of graduate school. “Never in a million years did we imagine that 26 years later, not only would we still be in California, but we would also be packing our bags for the only other time we drove across country to return to Goshen College, for me to serve as its 14th president.”

Brenneman said the Bible provides many examples of people told by God to interrupt their lives and to immediately respond to God’s calling, such as when Jesus told his would-be disciples to leave behind everything and to follow him.

“And the rest, as they say, is history. What started out as a small mustard-seed-of-a-group, a truly insignificant movement, blown here and there by the wind of the spirit, over time would be transformed into the largest of trees, branches spread wide, a place of rest for world-weary souls. ‘Such is the kingdom of heaven,’ Jesus said.”

Using a contemporary example of faith, Brenneman talked about Susan Boyle, the homely 48-year-old British woman, who took a huge risk earlier this month by singing on  “Britain’s Got Talent” television show.

“No one, absolutely no one, especially Simon Cowell, that acerbic judge and creator of ‘American Idol,’ thought Susan ready for prime time. But then, less than 15 bars into the song, ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from ‘Les Misérables,’ the audience started clapping. A few measures more and they were on their feet cheering. By the end, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, including my own watching on YouTube,” Brenneman said. “Susan Boyle had taken a giant leap of faith and landed in hope.”

Similarly, Brenneman advised the graduates to set aside their fears and the human tendency to complicate decision-making processes and to act when the Spirit moves deeply inside them by putting their faith in God.

“I pray today that each of you go from this corner of God’s universe into every continent of this world, that, with God’s help, whatever you do, you will help in the awesome calling of healing the world peace by peace. Call it wild. Call it adventurous. Call it risky. Call it a leap of faith, but also call it, possibly, the most transforming adventure of your lives,” Brenneman said. “Take the plunge. With God above and below you, and all around you, you will, I promise, land in hope.”

Three hours later, at 3 p.m., 130 current and retired faculty members led 222 graduates in a joyful procession into the gymnasium of the Roman Gingerich Recreation-Fitness Center for the 111th Goshen College Commencement. A brass ensemble, directed by Associate Professor of Music Gregg Thaller, greeted the procession.

President Brenneman welcomed the graduates by recalling their college journeys of hard work, late nights of study, deep learning, joyful memories, countless questions and guidance by faculty members.

“We’ve shared lots of fun, some pranks, loads of good will, moments of sorrow and even a few ’severe mercies.’ We have, I hope, all become better individuals having encountered each other along this part of our life journey: more loving, more prepared to serve God and others, more confident in our skills, more appreciative of God’s grace than when we first arrived at Goshen College.”

After an invocation and a congregational hymn, Brenneman introduced Dr. Stephen Charles Ainlay, who grew up in Goshen, earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Goshen College in 1973 and now is the president of Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. In his commencement address, “A Pilgrim’s Mind,” Ainlay told the graduates that he was transformed by his Goshen College education and that he wished the same for them.

“Thanks to the remarkable care that I received here, I developed a love of learning that has thus far lasted a lifetime. Thanks to the inspiration-by-example of faculty, across many fields of study, my own career aspirations were dramatically altered. And thanks to the formative process that resulted from Goshen’s curriculum and co-curriculum, my faith was nurtured and deepened,” Ainlay said. “I hope to all of you who are graduating that your time here will prove to have been transformative as well.”

Ainlay based much of his address on “Mayflower,” a 2006 book by Nathaniel Philbrick about the Pilgrims, their voyage across the Atlantic in 1620, their settlement of Plymouth Colony and their changing relationship with native peoples. The Pilgrims’ 65-day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean was filled with hardships, including a rough passage, cramped and unhealthy quarters, seasickness, poor food and water and verbal abuse by the Mayflower’s crew.

Still, they continued despite their many obstacles and eventually established a successful settlement in Plymouth. As such, they continue to offer important lessons on living, such as the importance of courage, perseverance and discernment.

“My wish for all of you is that you will be able to summon these qualities in your own lives,” Ainlay said. “If you take seriously Goshen College’s motto ‘Culture for Service,’ you will inevitably confront challenges, perhaps not as dramatic as those faced by the Pilgrims but challenges none the less. The lesson we can all find in the Pilgrim experience is that those challenges – the ‘headwinds’ and ’shoals’ of life – should be confronted with courage, perseverance and discernment.

“The Pilgrim experience also gives us clues about the sources of these qualities. Their courage, their willingness to persevere, and their ability to discern stemmed from deeply held convictions, enduring bonds to one another and an abiding belief in God’s active presence in their lives,” Ainlay said. “Convictions helped the Pilgrims on the Mayflower stay on course and you – like the Pilgrims – will need to sharpen, continually reaffirm and rely on your convictions in order to avoid going astray.”

Ainlay concluded his address by calling on the graduates to make a place for God in their lives, to keep their deepest held convictions and to nurture a sense of community to sustain their faith in good and bad times.

“The Pilgrims survived, they dared to dream and they were sustained by these things. You will be, too,” Ainlay said. “Do not fear or flee from the challenges ahead of you. The world needs you. Have courage. Persevere. Discern what is right and good. To me, this is what it means to have a ‘Pilgrim’s mind.’ Godspeed, fellow pilgrims.”

After Ainlay’s address, there was recognition of retiring faculty members: Fern Brunner, associate professor of nursing; Carl Helrich, professor of physics; Victor R. Koop, professor of psychology; Sally Jo Milne, associate librarian; Ronald J. Milne, professor of mathematics; and Judy Wenig-Horswell, associate professor of art. Together, they have provided 163 years of service to Goshen College.

The graduates then received degrees and signed their names in the Goshen College book – a tradition linking them to generations of alumni.

Presiding over the 111th commencement was President Brenneman, who congratulated each graduate after Academic Dean Anita K. Stalter announced their names.

Special mention was made of Deanne Elizabeth Binde of Lake Park. Minn., who died in a traffic crash on May 22, 2008. She had been scheduled to graduate with this class.

Taking part in commencement were two parents of graduating seniors: Dagne Assefa, the father of Lydie Assefa of Indianapolis, who offered the invocation, and Rachel Miller Jacobs, the mother of Ben Miller Jacobs of Goshen, who said the benediction.

After the benediction, faculty and administrators lined the main corridor of the Recreation-Fitness Center and applauded the departing seniors. This tradition also takes place at the beginning of each academic year to welcome students back to campus.

Represented in this year’s graduating class were students from 18 states, including 97 from Indiana, and from 13 countries.

The class included 15 graduates with double majors. Thirty-six students graduated with highest honors – grade point averages of 3.9 to a perfect 4.0. In addition, 90 others were on track to achieve GPAs of 3.60 and above. This commencement was the third consecutive year, after a break of four decades, that the college has recognized such academic honors.

The academic program with the largest number of graduating students was nursing, which held its traditional pinning ceremony the day before commencement to recognize the 40 individuals who completed degrees – 22 through the traditional, four-year program and 18 through the bachelor of science in nursing degree completion program. Other top majors in the class were organizational management (17), business (17) art (16), music (15) and social work (14).

Of the graduates, 92 took the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility, a national program at more than 100 colleges and universities. By signing the pledge, the graduates promised to “explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work.”

Students and faculty planned the morning baccalaureate service. It featured an instrumental prelude by graduating seniors Elizabeth Beachy, an English major from Wellman, Iowa, Peter Miller, an English and music major from Evanston, Ill., Leah Roth, a nursing major from Goshen, and Leslee Smucker, a music major from Goshen.

The service formally began with the lighting of lamps, and a welcome by Morgan Kraybill, a social work major from Harrisonburg, Va. After two congregational hymns, senior reflections were delivered by Brooke Blough, a Bible and religion major from Denver, Colo., and Brent Handfield, a business and education major from the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Tyler Yoder, a Bible and religion major from Goshen, and Ben Miller Jacobs, an English major from Goshen, performed a humorous drama with sock puppets in which they acted out their apprehensions about graduating from college and going out into the world. Emily Iehle, an American Sign Language interpreting major from Sandusky, Ohio, read the baccalaureate Scripture from Genesis 12.

After President Brenneman’s sermon, an 18-member choir and seven instrumentalists performed a song, “Seeds: The Kingdom of Heaven,” composed by graduate Jesse Landis-Eigsti, a music major from Lakewood, Colo.

Next, graduates, their parents, faculty and the entire congregation recited a baccalaureate litany, led by Lydie Assefa, a English/history major from Indianapolis, and Phil Schmidt, a Bible and religion major from Goshen. The litany, which was written by Hillary Watson, a Bible and religion major from Seattle, Wash., concluded with the sentiment: “I am a flame, too dim to change the whole world, small enough to know I don’t have to because I am a fire, I am sending someone else’s dream and when I’m gone, my dreams will belong to other seeds, becoming other trees.”

The baccalaureate ended with two congregational hymns: “The Lord bless you and keep you” and “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”

Other events during the busy weekend at the college included a senior program, which showcased the wide array of performing arts talent by the Class of 2009, a senior art exhibit, academic receptions for graduates and their families, a reception for adult programs and an evening reception hosted by President Brenneman and his wife, Dr. Terri J. Plank Brenneman.

— Written by Richard R. Aguirre

The first masters have a world for a classroom

Thursday, October 8th, 2009


Editor’s note: Goshen College’s first three graduate students – pictured above (left to right): Mallory Kuhn, Nayla Jimenez and Todd Weston – walked across the commencement stage in caps and gowns on April 26, and completed master’s degrees in environmental education at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College in early June. This academic year, the program was tripled, with a cohort of eight who began studies in July. Here’s what the incoming students can expect and what those who are leaving will take with them.

Bill Minter and Nayla Jimenez

Bill Minter and Nayla Jimenez


Environmental education is place-based learning. It teaches people to be aware of their setting: how ecosystems function biologically, how they fit within the larger landscape and how they are shaped – or misshapen – by human values.

By mid-April, three-quarters of the way through their program, Merry    Lea’s three current graduate students have worked with prairies, farmland, upland and lowland forests, fens, bogs and a variety of other types of wetlands. On this day, they are back on the west side of Merry Lea on the sand dunes that glaciers deposited just north of High Lake. They’ve come with Bill Minter, a certified forester who serves as Merry Lea’s land manager, who is restoring this area to the oak savanna it once was.

The three have been to these dunes before: in August for a natural history course with an entomologist, in October during a seminar on nature photography, and in March, when they helped with a prescribed burn on this site. Now they are back to watch the charred landscape begin to sprout and to learn more about how fire-dependent landscapes function.

None of the three students has previous experience with oak savannas. That is not surprising, since this ecosystem is listed as “globally imperiled.” Although patches of oak savanna were once abundant along the prairie/forest border throughout the Midwest, grazing, farming and fire suppression have since eradicated or degraded much of this ecosystem.

Merry Lea contains the only oak savanna in Noble or Elkhart counties. For Nayla Jiménez – who grew up in the cool, humid cloud forests that blanket the mountains of Costa Rica – any dry, open landscape is new. A savanna is also an unfamiliar setting for Mallory Kuhn from Spencerville, Ohio. Todd Weston, whose hometown in Missouri hugs the Kansas border, is at home with prairies, but unfamiliar with the glacial activity that created Merry Lea’s dunes.

On their educational trek, Jiménez, Kuhn and Weston follow Minter across the north and south sand dunes. The north dune, which was burned this spring, is still black and bare. Kneeling down, they can begin to see green emerging from the scorched clumps. The south dune was not burned, and it takes a serious climb through little bluestem to get to the top. In the classroom, they’ve already learned how to recognize a savanna by observing the percentage of ground shaded by the tree canopy and whether the soils are wet or dry. They know that shrubs such as gray dogwood and smooth sumac are indicators of a dry soil, and that the scattered oaks they are looking at are black oaks. Black oaks prefer dry soil and are able to survive a fire thanks to their thick, corky bark and the ability of seedlings to re-sprout after being burned.

The group heads south toward a point where Native Americans once camped, stopping to admire a patch of Pennsylvania sedge at the base of an oak. Below them, High Lake sparkles through the trees. Another short walk will take them to an entirely different ecosystem where discussions might revolve around drainage tile, and sycamores and swamp rose mallow are the species to watch for. That will wait for another day.



Hands-on Experience

Todd Weston, who studied wildlife and fisheries at the University of Missouri for his bachelor’s degree, chose Merry Lea’s graduate program over seven others partly because of the amount of K-12 interaction built into the program. “I really wanted to be teaching people,” he says.

Merry Lea’s master’s in environmental education requires about 30 hours of practicum experience. Since Merry Lea already has a 30-year track record with environmental education and a K-12 program that serves over 7,000 school students each year, there is ample opportunity to learn from experienced educators and a proven curriculum.

The one-year, year-round program enables students to experience environmental education in all seasons. In the fall, a graduate student might find herself showing first-graders how corn was processed on a turn-of-the-century farm in one of Merry Lea’s farm craft programs. In the winter, the group treks to the Yoder Sugar Bush in Huntertown, Ind., to tap maple trees, boil sap and teach maple sugaring. In the spring, they are hip-deep in wetlands dipping for macroinvertebrates and teaching about water quality.

Preparing a public program for all ages at Merry Lea’s annual NatureFest will round out their experiences. Weston will lead a herpetology hike; Kuhn is guiding families who go geocaching and Jiménez is preparing a workshop on how to make a home more ecofriendly.



Space for Faith

“One unique aspect of our program is that we talk a lot about spirituality and the relationship between care of creation and faith,” says Paul Steury, who teaches two environmental education courses in the master’s program.

Readings and lectures put students in contact with environmental leaders such as author Bill McKibben and former vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals Richard Cizik, whose passion for the planet is informed by a Christian framework.

Merry Lea’s annual Autumn Hope Conference – which integrates Christian theology and worship with time outdoors led by trained naturalists – is also a part of the graduate curriculum.

“The faculty wasn’t pushing a set of ideas so much as making a space for conversation about how spirituality, beliefs and value systems tied into the subjects we talked about,” says Jiménez.

“It was a change, coming from a state school where you never talked about religion unless you were in a religion class,” says Weston.

Kuhn recalls being inspired by the group’s visit to Faith in Place, a Chicago nonprofit that helps people of all faiths find the tools they need to become good stewards of the earth. “I really wasn’t exposed to the idea of creation care before,” she says.



A Wide Open Future for Graduates

“We define environmental education very broadly,” says David Ostergren, director of the graduate program. “We at Merry Lea are excited about reaching out to a broad audience. We want to train leaders that can bring environmental awareness to a variety of fields. Our students’ future jobs and goals are only limited by their imaginations.”

This breadth is evident in the interests of current students and the backgrounds of this year’s entering class. Weston plans to teach in a school classroom that will no doubt contain aquariums of live amphibians and reptiles. Kuhn is a fan of small mammals and hopes to teach others about them in a zoo setting. Jiménez would love to work as a consultant, helping businesses or homeowners improve their energy-efficiency and
ecological footprints.

Among this year’s entering class are a chef interested in sustainably grown food as a starting point for environmental education and a woman with a vision for combining environmental education with her inner-city ministry.

Gallery of images of summer flora at Merry Lea

A Wide Open Future for Merry Lea

The master’s program is reshaping Merry Lea’s focus and energies as well. Luke Gascho, executive director at Merry Lea, is surprised and pleased by the number of students who entered the program this summer.

“People are attracted to our clearly defined curriculum,” Gascho notes. “They can see what they will get when they look at our Web site, but there is also flexibility, based on which major project they choose.”

This year’s students report that the opportunity to complete a master’s degree in one year was a factor in their decision. Granted, the schedule is brutal, with few breaks, but for those able to devote themselves to full-time study, it is an opportunity to save money and
hit the job market sooner.

Perhaps the most important factor filling the chairs in Merry Lea’s classroom is the critical, 21st century need for ecological understanding. “The environment is in the news a great deal,” observes Gascho. “This encourages people to think, ‘I need to do something about that!’ ”

– By Jennifer Schrock, Public Program Coordinator at Merry Lea.

12 Traits of Mennonite Colleges

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

By Eastern Mennonite University’s Bonnie Lofton, writer, and John Styer, photographer

For the purposes of this article , “Mennonite colleges” refers to six institutions under the umbrella of the Mennonite Education Agency, part of Mennonite Church USA. Bethel College, founded in Kansas in 1887, is the oldest of the group. Goshen College, in Indiana, was founded next in 1894. Bluffton University took shape in Ohio in 1899. Hesston College is a two-year private liberal arts college (there are just a dozen in this country), which opened in 1909 in the vicinity of Bethel College. (Hesston and Bethel belonged to different ethnic-religious traditions in the Mennonite stream; these have since unified.) Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), which includes a seminary, began as a Bible school in the Shenandoah Valley in 1917. Finally, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, emerged from two seminaries, each representing a particular ethnicreligious Anabaptist tradition in the United States. In the 1960s, these seminaries began to share curricula and facilities; in 1994 they formally merged.

Early in the spring of 2009, Crossroads posed this query to 75 people who have studied and worked on multiple college campuses: What is distinctive about Mennonite institutions of higher education? From tens of thousands of words offered during interviews and in e-mails, plus a half-dozen books written on Christian education in the last decade, patterns began to be visible and 12 common traits emerged.

1 / Models of accomplishment

Many of our faculty members are famous, such as restorative justice pioneer Howard Zehr and Amish expert Steve Nolt. All hold graduate degrees from reputable accredited universities, some from “elite” places, such as Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, Notre Dame, and the University of California. Yet they choose to work in a Mennonite setting, preparing and challenging their students intellectually and spiritually to change the world.


A / ALAN KREIDER / GOSHEN, BA ’62 / HARVARD, AM ’65, PhD ‘71 / AMBS, professor of church history & mission / With wife Eleanor, was Mennonite missionary in the UK for 26 years; responsibilities included directing London Mennonite Centre and planting Wood Green Mennonite Church in London / Academic stints at Princeton University, Heidelberg University, University of Manchester, University of London, and University of Oxford, where he directed the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture from 1995 to 2000. / Views one of his earliest professors at Goshen, John S. Oyer, as a model – “his life was one of Anabaptist commitment, manifest integrity, and scrupulous scholarship.”

B / TED KOONTZ / BETHEL, BA ’69 / HARVARD, MDiv ’72, MA ’80, PhD ’85 / AMBS, professor of ethics & peace studies / “Some of the brightest students I met at Harvard Divinity School would not be good pastors, and some of the most gifted people I’ve met at AMBS – possessing relational, emotional and leadership strengths – would not be a good fit for Harvard, due to its heavy emphasis on book-based scholarship. Thankfully, AMBS cherishes both scholarship and relationships.”

C / ANITA STALTER / EMU, BS ’79 / MICHIGAN STATE, PhD ’97 / GOSHEN, vice-president for academic affairs & academic dean / Doctoral degree is in teaching, curriculum and educational policy. / Instrumental in establishing Goshen’s Center for Intercultural Teaching and Learning. / Collaborates with teaching and administrative colleagues “to design curriculum that incorporates the college’s Anabaptist vision, liberal arts foundation, and international resources to prepare students to assume leadership for the complex challenges we face in an increasingly globalized world.”

D / MAR Y SCHERTZ / GOSHEN, BA ’71 / VANDERBILT U., PhD ’93 / AMBS, New Testament professor / Lives near AMBS and loves her “great neighborhood, where a third are Hispanic, a third are African American, and a third are Caucasian.” / At Vanderbilt, enjoyed being in an ecumenical environment “with Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists, Jews and people who didn’t have any religious background,” enabling her to “hone my arguments for pacifist interpretations of the Scripture.” / Appreciates having three colleagues at AMBS who are Old and New Testament scholars.

2 / Student-centered ethos

Mennonite-college people do research, write books, produce art, direct plays and musical groups, speak at scholarly symposia, lead national and international associations. They are quoted by the national media on such matters as: non-military solutions to world conflict, alternatives to incarceration, the Christian approach to our environmental problems, ways to combine theory and practice, a cappella singing in four-part harmony, disaster relief, and much more. But nothing is more important to them than their students. They come first. As much as possible, professors include students in their out-of-classroom work.


A / SANDEE ZERGER / BETHEL, BA ’66 / U. of Kansas, PhD ’92 / HESSTON , vice-president of academics and academic dean / Fluent in Spanish, having attended a Spanish language school as a child in Puerto Rico, where her dentist-father was doing alternative service, and having taught ESL classes in Colombia for almost three years. / Grandfather, mother, father, sister, husband and sons also are Bethel alumni. / “Hesston’s students are the most geographically diverse of all the Mennonite colleges, partly because it’s a great place to start your college career, within an environment of close, warm relationships.”

B / BRADLEY KAUFMAN / GOSHEN, BA ’96 / U. OF IOWA, MA ’02 / HESSTON , director of instrumental music and Bel Canto Singers / With a graduate degree in choral conducting, Kauffman keeps up the strong European-Mennonite tradition of a cappella singing at Hesston; as director of a new wind ensemble, he is equally determined to build a strong instrumental program. / “Hesston is uniquely friendly and welcoming, making it a good place for everyone, but especially for students who need to test out the idea of college.”

3 / Life & learning, beyond academics

Mennonites traditionally are “doers.” Practical people. The best way to learn about organic farming is to do it, applying information and theory gleaned from books and teachers. Want to be a teacher of English as a second language? Then apply your classroom lessons to tutoring immigrants who don’t know English. Instead of fretting about how much food Americans waste, study the food wasted in the college cafeteria and devise ways to channel it into feeding hungry people through the local food bank. Such combining of learning and doing is characteristic of all Mennonite colleges.


A / PAUL FRIESEN / HESSTON ’42 / U. OF WICHITA , MS ’58 & FORT HAYS STATE U., MS ‘60 / HESSTON & BETHEL, professor emeritus of art / Became interested in art as a teen-ager, especially in wood sculpture, at Woodstock School in India while his parents were missionaries there prior to World War II. Founded the art department at Hesston in 1957. Collaborated with Robert Regier, professor emeritus of art at nearby Bethel College, so that both professors taught art classes at Bethel and Hesston 1965-1978. Hesston’s Friesen Center for the Visual Arts, a $2 million building, opened last fall.

B / PAT MCFARLANE / EMU, BA ’74 / GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY, MA ’76 / GOSHEN, associate professor of communication / Was introduced to theater at EMU by her English professor, Jay B. Landis; she then pursued it further at Georgetown U. / During college spent summers in Lancaster, Pa., acting in the “Dutch Family Festival,” written by fellow EMU alum Merle Good (now co-owner of Good Books). / Collaborated with Goshen undergrads in 2005 on 60-minute documentary “Living Water…Living Faith,” focused on the stories of ”Mennonite women of color,” which is also the topic of her PhD dissertation, now in progress. This topic is inspired, in part, by her own experience as the wife of a Jamaican of African descent and the mother of two bi-racial young adults.

4 / Place to make life-shaping choices

For better or for worse, one’s college experience has a huge impact on one’s entire life. The reputation of Mennonite college alumni for working hard and smart, and for being honest and caring, serves future graduates well. As examples, pre-med graduates from Mennonite colleges enjoy an acceptance rate into medical school far above the national average. Over the last decade our alumni have enjoyed a placement rate approaching 100% within a year of graduation, with 90% employed in their field of study. Then there is the marriage matter: Many joke about the high marriage rate among graduates of Mennonite colleges, but statistically these marriages do have a great chance of succeeding, probably because of the partners’ shared values, backed by a supportive network of faith community, family and friends.


A / BARBARA & JOHN FAST / BETHEL, BAs IN LATE ‘60s / JAMES MADISON U., MFA (BARBARA); INDIANA U., MM (JOHN) / EMU, she teaches visual art, he teaches organ, piano and music theory / Barbara: “I sort of had my eye on him in high school because he was known to be a very fine musician.” John: “The first weekend she was at Bethel, I took her to Shakee’s Pizza Parlor in Wichita. That’s what we did for fun then.” / Barbara: “EMU was looking for an organ professor in 1975, and John was offered the position. In our mind, we were coming to a very conservative place – our friends were Bethel or Goshen grads.” John: “There were differences between the schools and the traditions backing each, but these have largely disappeared. The young generation is scarcely aware of them, and that’s a good thing.” / After 30 years among colleagues who came and went overseas, the Fasts did a stint in 2008 for Mennonite Central Committee in Cairo, Egypt, where they taught English at the Coptic Orthodox Church.

B / LEEROY BERRY / EMU, BA ’66 / NOTRE DAME, MA ’69, PhD ’76 / INDIANA U. JD ‘84 / GOSHEN, part-time political science professor / From a 02/18/09 article in the Goshen College Record by Sarah Rich: As a boy, Berry traveled from Florida to Ohio every summer with his parents and seven siblings, chasing the seasonal crops to his parents’ boss’ home state. Starting at age 8, Berry joined his parents in the fields in the summer and on Saturdays, pulling radishes, skinning onions and weeding, even in the rain. “I was aware of the stigma that we, as migrant kids, had,” said Berry. Berry saw how his father abused his mother and how she, in turn, abused him. Berry said that even as an adolescent he ‘wanted a life that was better.’ In 1961, Berry graduated from a segregated Sarasota (Fla.) high school. The segregated school hadn’t offered him a very good education, but Berry had a keen desire to improve his position in the world. When it came time for his teachers to identify talented and potentially college-bound students, Berry’s name was brought up. The news circulated quickly in New Town Gospel Chapel Mennonite Church. “When my preacher heard me talk about going to college, he almost fell off his bench,” Berry said. This same pastor eventually encouraged Berry to look into Eastern Mennonite College in Harrisonburg, Va. Berry received his bachelor’s degree in history there. After Berry graduated, he went into voluntary service. He worked at a summer day camp in Cleveland run by a woman named Beth Hostetler. Raised in a white, Republican, middle-class Ohio family, Hostetler did not exactly share Berry’s upbringing. The two got married in 1969. In the years that followed, Berry moved to Goshen, began teaching political science at Goshen College, continued to work on his Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame and became a father to Joe, Malinda and Anne Berry. In 1984, Berry got his law degree from Indiana University and now works as a local attorney, in addition to teaching.

5 / You can’t go wrong here

Of course, you can go wrong in a Mennonite college, but folks will notice and care and try to help you – it’s a common advantage of small Christian colleges. Thus you are less likely to “go wrong.” And you are more likely to achieve the goals you set for yourself. Harvard-educated, penta-lingual Paul A. Keim, who has taught at six colleges and been dean at two, says: “What I usually tell students who aspire to be academics is that they can have the best of both worlds by doing their undergraduate work at a Mennonite school and then getting their graduate degree from a research institute.”


A / DON HOOLEY / EMU, BA ’77 / U. OF IOWA, PhD ’88 / BLUFFTON, math professor / Has lived and taught in Nigeria, India and Honduras. / “At Iowa, my major professor was available to me, but there was such pressure to publish, you hardly saw the other professors in their offices, beyond their weekly hour of scheduled in-office time. Here the doors to our offices are open.”

B / ABBY MILLER / HESSTON , AA ‘07 / BETHEL senior, majoring in communications arts / Graduated from Bethany Christian High School in Indiana, close to Goshen College, but opted to head to Kansas to attend Hesston for first two years and Bethel for the last two years. (Her brother went to Goshen.) / “My parents really wanted me to go to a Mennonite college, at least for my first couple of years. But I wasn’t sure. After graduating from a Mennonite high school, I wondered, ‘Do I need more Mennonite education?’ But college turned out to be so different from high school…. Hesston was great for me, because I am a very social person – it’s like going to church camp all year within a setting of quality academics. Bethel was a great next step for me. I got an attractive financial aid package, and it’s so pretty and so nice and so welcoming. Besides, I like the diversity here and the variety of perspectives – and that you decide on your own what you believe.”

6 / Can we be of service?

Virtually all faculty members, as well as many of the administrators and staffers, have done extensive voluntary service, always on the local level but usually internationally as well, often under demanding cross-cultural conditions with Mennonite Central Committee. They infuse the campus with their humble service ethos and global perspective. Students are encouraged to combine service with leadership. As a result, some grads have ended up at the head of United Nations agencies in Switzerland, while others have ended up at the front of a one-room schoolhouse in Indiana or Sierra Leone. All forms of serving and leading are equally valued.


A / RANDY KEELER / BLUFFTON , BA ’80 / EMU SEMINARY, MDI V ’86 / FULLER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, DMIN ’08 / BLUFFTON , assistant professor of religion / Started on his path to youth ministry just out of his undergraduate studies, doing voluntary service with inner city youth in the Boys’ Clubs of Fresno, Calif., 1981-83. / “In the 1990s, I was challenged to develop a youth ministry major that was distinctively Anabaptist at Bluffton. The first class majoring in youth ministry graduated in 2000. Currently we have 28 students in the youth ministry program. Last year we graduated five: two are doing full-time youth ministry in Methodist churches; one is working as a ‘parent’ in a school for delinquents, and two are in mission service.” / Was Bluffton’s campus pastor from 1990 to 2005, as well as men’s soccer coach at Bluffton for 10 years. / “I’ve always seen my calling as being to encourage young adults to go into ministry. I don’t see myself as an academic. I see myself as a practitioner. I try to teach in a pastoral way.” / Keeler believes Bluffton’s underlying frameswork is similar to that of the other Mennonite colleges: (1) discipleship, (2) community of faith, and (3) peace and nonviolence.

B / BOB YODER / EMU, BS ‘94 / AMBS, MDIV ’01 / WESTERN THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, DMIN ’07 / GOSHEN, campus minister / “I resisted the Anabaptist identity. I went to a public school, where I was a bit ostracized for being different – after all, my mother wore a prayer bonnet and such. I kept thinking, ‘There’s bigger and better things than this Mennonite thing.’ At EMU, Yoder focused on pre-medical studies. But instead of entering medical school immediately, he detoured to work at the Laurelville Mennonite Church Center (Mount Pleasant, Pa.), to serve as the first pastor of a church plant, New Life Mennonite Church in Somerset, Pa., and to participate in a Christian Peacemaker Team delegation to the West Bank and Israel. In so doing, Yoder got hooked on ministry.

C / J. NELSON KRAYBILL / GOSHEN, BA ’78 / PRINCETON THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, MDI V ’83 / UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY (VIRGINIA), PHD ’92 / AMBS, outgoing president / With wife Ellen, he has taught or done mission work in Uruguay, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Korea, Japan, and the United Kingdom. / Professors at Goshen encouraged him – a young man raised on a Lancaster, Pa., farm in a traditional Mennonite family – to study at the U. of Barcelona, Spain, for a year. Kraybill’s six siblings – Leona, Elvin, Eugene, Dave, Ron and Leon – have led extremely varied lives as: theologian (Nelson), psychiatric nurse in Pa., lawyer in Pa., information systems analyst in NY, economist-director of African Studies Program at Ohio State University, peace professor-consultant-writer in Israel, and physician in Lancaster, Pa. Some went to Goshen, others to EMU, most spent time overseas, and all earned graduate degrees.

7 / Caring for all of God’s creation

Mennonite colleges have long stood for frugality – which translated into energy conservation and other environmentally friendly practices – but lately they have come to understand that God’s Creation should not be despoiled. We humans need to work to keep species from disappearing, water and air from being polluted, and the earth’s climate from changing. Our God-given resources should be used wisely and justly, not benefiting some to the detriment of the majority. Our colleges now teach and try to model being “green” and caring for all creation, animate and inanimate.


a / LUKE GASCHO / EMU, BS ’74 / NOVA SOUTH EASTERN U., EDD ’99 / Became director in 1997 of Goshen College’s 1,189-acre Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center, 28 miles southeast of campus. / Brought decades of experience in educational leadership and strategic planning to the job of figuring out what to do with more than a thousand acres of land that Lee and Mary Jane Rieth donated to Goshen College in 1980 for conservation and educational purposes. / Merry Lea encompasses a range of geological and ecological features, including wetlands, bogs, lakeshores, upland and lowland forests, prairies, meadows, marl pit, and glacially formed gravel ridge. / It now hosts thousands of visits from schoolchildren every year, with Goshen College students often serving as guides and educators-in-training. / In recent years, college students have been able to live in a cluster of new buildings called Rieth Village, largely powered by a windmill, solar panels, and geothermal climate control system. The village (pictured above) serves as a model of sustainable construction – they were the first buildings in Indiana to meet the highest “platinum level” under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. / Gascho travels widely, speaking to church, college, community, and environmental groups on how Christians can put their faith into practice on “creation care” issues. He is also a prolific writer. His latest work, 176-page Creation Care: Keepers of the Earth (2008), is a user-friendly guide to the spiritual basis for environmental stewardship. It shows how people’s choices affect air and water quality, energy use, and the climate, while also impacting their global neighbors. / Gascho: “Many of the environmental issues we’re facing are deeply rooted in money and materialism. Our task is to seek and then practice a way of life that truly represents our respect for the natural order of creation and justice for all people.” / On the broader college level, Gascho has chaired Goshen’s strategic planning committee for the last eight years; in 2003-04, Gascho involved 300 people over nine months throughout the system in thinking about and planning for Goshen’s future. One result of the process: Goshen’s decision to launch its first two graduate programs – an MS in nursing and an MA in environmental education.

B / MATTHEW SIDERHURST / GOSHEN, BA ’99 / COLORADO STATE U, PHD ’04 / EMU, assistant professor of chemistry (pictured in the EMU greenhouse) / After receiving PhD, did postdoctoral research with the USDA-ARS-PBARC in Hilo, Hawaii, working to identify attractants for several economically important invasive insects. / Currently maintains research collaborations with USDA scientists in Hawaii./ Will be taking three students to Hawaii to research control methods for an invasive fire ant in the summer of 2009. / Has received over $125,000 in grant money to do chemical ecology projects with eight students. / “A huge reason I am where I am is because of the handful of profs at Goshen who engaged me in class and in research.” / “Having colleagues who appreciate how faith intersects with peace and justice, and the choice of leading a simple lifestyle … this has to be at the top of my list of positives for working at EMU.” / Beginning in the fall of 2009, EMU will be offering a new Environmental Sustainability major; related information at www.emu.edu/begreen.

8/Peace & social justice as core values

People educated at Mennonite colleges are known worldwide for enabling people to address conflicts with dialogue and relationship building, rather than with weapons or other forms of force. This often leads to addressing the roots of the conflict – most often, conditions that cause people to feel victimized or hopeless. Starting with self-transformation, ideally peace ripples out to those immediately around us and further, finally reaching people very different from us. In this way, we can be vehicles for God’s unconditional love and try to live up to the statement, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5:9)


A / RUDI KAUFFMAN / EMU, BA ’01 / U. OF CINCINNATI , PhD candidate / BLUFFTON , assistant professor of restorative justice / Kauffman: “Does ‘just war’ have outcomes that are more just or less just? In researching my dissertation, I found an inverse correlation. ‘Just war’ is an oxymoron.” / As an undergraduate at EMU, did a lot of 21-credit-hour semesters in order to complete three majors – justice, peace & conflict studies; history; sociology – while minoring in economics and political science. / Takes cross-discipline approach in studying and advocating for new approaches to criminal justice that are restorative rather than punitive. / After earning an MA at Quaker-founded Earlham College in Indiana, started his teaching career in a one-room schoolhouse where he taught 6th, 7th and 8th grades simultaneously, which “very nearly killed me.” / As doctoral student gave presentations on government-initiated cybersecurity. / In current position, wrestles with relationship between educating aspiring police officers and restorative justice.

B / ANETTE SELEYIAN LOLCHOKI / EMU senior, majoring in math / Came to EMU from her home country of Kenya after learning about it from a Kenyan whose daughter completed an EMU degree. / “One thing I will take from EMU is how I view the world. I don’t think fighting back is the answer. We need to try to look at other means of resolving conflict, like dialogue, instead of retaliating.” / “Humility is another thing I’ve learned here, like not going around buying expensive things just because you have the means to buy them. It is better to use wealth to help others.” / “One of the hardest things for me to get used to was calling professors and older people by their first names. I have lived all my life referring to older people with terms that show respect. I still show respect for my professors, even if I have learned to call them by their first names. I show respect in my tone of voice.” / “I love math. My long-term view is to go home and encourage other Masaii girls to boost their performances in math. If I can do it, they can do it too!”

9 / Whole (holistic) people

Our colleges are small enough that folks can and do stray far beyond the lines of their discipline. An English professor may collaborate with an environmental science professor on a project. You may find a chemistry professor in a lead role of a major campus production, or a physical plant worker in a choir. Professors may be found cheering for their students playing football, basketball, or other games, or chatting with them over meals. If you’re a pre-med major, you can drop into the ceramics lab and throw some pots for relaxation. Or pray in the arboretum. Or play intramurals at midnight. And in chapel and church, you can sit among the entire community – those who clean and maintain the buildings beside those who study and teach in them – and worship as one body of Christ.


and preaching / Was one of the first Mennonites to get an advanced degree in theater by earning a master’s degree in the subject from the University of Iowa in 1970 / “I remember the phone call I made to my parents when I told them I was accepted into the [U. of Iowa] theater program. There was a
long pause, a long silence, and then my dad said, ‘Well, we don’t understand this, but we trust you.’” / Next Yoder decided she wanted to be a preacher at a time when the Mennonite church did not have women in pastoral leadership roles, so she pursued and obtained MDiv and DMin degrees. Again, her parents were baffled but ultimately accepting. / Today she is widely recognized as a mentor and teacher of preachers, using her theater training to help preachers literally unglue their arms from their sides and use their whole bodies in being in the pulpit and spreading the Word. / Yoder bemoans the simplistic “Sunday school faith” of many people with advanced academic degrees – “they have a university-level understanding of their academic discipline, but a grade-school understanding of their faith.” / On reasons for attending a Mennonite college: “If you just want chemistry, you can get chemistry anywhere. If you just want Shakespeare, you can get Shakespeare wherever you go. You can get quality teaching wherever you go. But you can’t get the same quality of interaction between professors and students. And you can’t get the same quality of people doing the teaching.”

B / BRIAN WIEBE / BETHEL, BA ’85 / NORTH WESTERN U., MM ’87 / GOSHEN, executive director of the Goshen Music Center (pictured in background) / Was hired in 2001 when Goshen College’s splendid $17 million performance, recital and classroom center was half-way constructed. / “They said the sound of the train whistle [the campus is bisected by a train track] would not be audible inside the concert hall. Early one morning I heard the train coming. I quickly hopped on my bike, pedaled here, ran inside, shut all the doors and waited to see if I could hear the train whistle.” (He didn’t.) / “Mennonite institutions have been leaders in ‘living more with less’ and in ‘creation care’ generally. All of them emphasize compassionate peacemaking. Beyond our traditional Mennonite constituency, I see interest growing exponentially in the values we hold. The world is coming our way.”

10 / Relationship building, usually community based

Most of us live in close proximity to each other and care about each other, offering mutual support beyond the classroom. We are a community. We are accountable to each other, committed to working through conflicts respectfully and peacefully. Viewing ourselves as “brothers and sisters in God’s service,” we tend to use first names and to have egalitarian relationships rather than hierarchical ones. Peacebuilders trained in our colleges start with building relationships across whatever “enemy” lines they encounter, whether ethnic, religious, political, or military. Newcomers tend to be welcomed with relationship-building activities. In our sports teams, players get beyond differences of beliefs, backgrounds, skill, race, and scholastic ability to forge tight teams who become family to each other.


A / DEB ROTH / HESSTON, AA ’83 / GOSHEN, BA ’85 / HESSTON, DIRECTOR OF ACCESS (Academic Center for College Excellence & Student Success) / “When a student leaves Hesston, there is almost a ‘Hesston withdrawal period.’ It’s a period of adjusting, of letting go of two years that were so good.“

B / JIM YODER / HESSTON, AA ’62 / GOSHEN, BA ’64 / INDIANA U., PHD ’69 / HESSTON, chemistry professor / Major roles in two dozen Hesston productions, including Twelfth Night, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, The Bourgeois Gentleman and A Christmas Carol. / Two teaching stints in Swaziland, one as a Fulbright scholar. / “Happily I am aware that I can no longer tell from my class rosters, or from race or other appearance, who is Mennonite and who isn’t.”

C / VAL HERSHBERGER / HESSTON, AA ’82 / EMU, BA ’84 / JAMES MADISON U., MS ’96 / GOSHEN, associate professor of physical education / “It sounds like a cliché, but it is really true that the biggest distinctive [of Mennonite colleges] is their sense of community. In a place like this, you get up every day and look forward to going to work with your colleagues.”

GARY CHUPP / EMU, BA ’87 / GOSHEN, assistant professor of physical education / “The majority of the players I recruit are not Mennonites, but they do feel part of a family here – a basketball family. We act as a support group to each other.”

JEWEL LEHMAN / EMU, BA ’84 / U. OF NORTH CAROLINA -GREENSBORO, EDD ’03 / GOSHEN, associate professor and department chair of physical education & secondary education / Wide experience beyond Menno colleges: James Madison U., where she got her master’s and was an assistant volleyball coach; Baptist-founded Campbell U., where she was volleyball coach; Methodist linked Greensboro College, where she taught P.E.; and UNCG, where she earned her doctorate. “Each has its positive aspects” – positives of Mennonite colleges include their “work ethic” and “student-centered ethos.”

11 / Global vision

Mennonite college folks think that living, working, learning and serving outside of one’s own culture enables us to see that people different from ourselves are our brothers and sisters in the sight of God, whether we share their nationality, religion or any other feature. The majority of the faculty members at Mennonite colleges have extensive international experience. Many students — most students on some our campuses — spend a semester or more outside of their home cultures. Insular and provincial? No way! Not even if our locations are rural.


A / FLORINA IMMACULATE MARY BENOIT / EMU, MA ’04 / OSMANIA U. (HYDERABAD, INDIA ), PHD ’08 / Benoit and her husband “Ashok” (at right) were among nine Fulbright students from Asia who completed master’s degrees in conflict transformation at EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding in 2004. / Upon returning to her home region in the southern sector of India, Benoit entered a PhD in social work program. For her doctoral research, she collaborated with Ashok (also pursuing a PhD), and one other academic to document, for the first time ever, the humiliating conditions under which Sri Lankan Tamil refugees live in camps in Tamil Nadu, an area of India adjacent to Sri Lanka. Now a “doctor,” she is Assistant Manager of Industrial Social Work at Loyola College in Chennai.

G. “ASHOK” GLADSTON XAVIER / EMU, MA ’04 / LOYOLA COLLEGE (CHENNAI, INDIA), senior lecturer in social work and PhD candidate / Spends mornings and early afternoons teaching and supervising 80 students at Loyola College. In the late afternoon and evening, he and Florina volunteer at the Organization for Eelam Refugee Rehabilitation (OfERR), through which they offer extensive trainings in support of Tamil refugees. They have pioneered the use of dramatic techniques – called “play-back theater” – in their trainings. / The couple travels frequently to Sri Lanka – where hundreds of thousands have been harmed by war – as well as to other parts of the world (about two dozen trips annually outside of India) for trainings and presentations. / Ashok: “Our work in Sri Lanka is in the area of building local capacities for peace and inter-religious education.”

B / DON CLYMER / HESSTON, AA ’73 / GOSHEN, BA ‘75 / EMU SEMINARY, MACL ’08 / WICHITA STATE U., MA ’79 / EMU, assistant professor of language and literature / Has taught Spanish, German and Latin American studies at Hesston / Served with Mennonite Central Committee in Guatemala in 1976 and Mexico 1986-1989. Also with Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions in Honduras 1968-1970 and in 1973. / “Where I grew up, people thought, ‘You go to college and you lose your faith.’ What I find ironic is that students who go to Mennonite colleges are more likely to stay in the church. That’s what happened with me and my 10 siblings. Of the five who went to Mennonite colleges, four remained in the Mennonite church [80%]. Of the six who didn’t go to Mennonite colleges, only two remained in the church [33%].” / Of the 20 students on the 2007 EMU cross-cultural to Guatemala and Mexico, which Clymer and his wife Esther led, half intend to go into voluntary-type service in the future.

12/Living & working as Jesus taught

Jesus lived very, very simply, reaching out to those who were poor, rejected and suffering. He prayed. He asked for forgiveness for those who sinned. He performed miracles. He rejected worldly wealth. He suffered in the face of violence, asking that we love our enemies and turn the other cheek. At Mennonite colleges, there is a heartfelt desire to live and work as Jesus did, though we confess to falling short to living up to this desire.


A / MARION BONTRAGER / HESSTON, AA ’57 / GOSHEN, BA ’59 / GOSHEN BIBLICAL SEMINARY (now AMBS), MDI V ’63 / HESSTON, professor in Bible and ministry department / “I work for the Mennonite church, but I happen to teach at Hesston. One of my goals is for students to become biblically literate. All are required to take the course ‘Introduction to Biblical Literature,’ which I created. In pre-tests, fewer than 10 students out of 115 knew the books of the Bible. I teach the Bible as drama, as narrative story. We would be very concerned if students left here without a love for the Bible and a commitment to the Word.”

B / LOREN L. JOHNS / GOSHEN, BA ’77 / GOSHEN BIBLICAL SEMINAR Y (now AMBS), MDIV ’84 / PRINCETON THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, PHD ’98 / AMBS, associate professor of New Testament / Taught Bible at Bluffton from 1993-2000, while coordinating its peace and conflict studies program, 1998-2000. / In high school, Johns had a teacher who undermined his faith, leading Johns as a teenager to believe his only choice was between being honest or being a Christian. This caused Johns to arrive at Goshen College “having rejected my faith.” / “I had some really good conversations my freshman year about why my friends continued to believe and why I did not.” Over time, though, “I thought I could see God working in my friends’ lives and that was a bit bothersome to me.” / Stanley C. Shenk, one of Johns’ professors at Goshen, “had a style of considering critical issues that attracted me. He didn’t ignore the questions, nor was he afraid of considering them seriously.” / Within the supportive environment offered by Goshen, “I had a conversion experience that was more profound than the baptism I had at age 11. God blessed me with a sense of joy and peace.”

C / LEE F. SNYDER / U. OF OREGON, BA ’72 / JAMES MADISON U., MA ’74 / U. OF OREGON, PHD ’85 / BLUFFTON, president, 1996-’06 / EMU, academic dean, 1984-’96; v-p, 1987-’96; interim provost, 2008-’09 / In a keynote speech to the Mennonite Health Assembly on 03/30/07, Snyder noted that during World War II, rather than take up weapons, many Mennonites joined the Civilian Public Service. Some were sent to work in mental hospitals. Dr. Paul W. Pruyser, a Menninger Foundation executive, made the following observations about the Mennonite workers in mental hospitals (as cited by Snyder): They had “an abhorrence of violence and cruelty, an acquired sense of responsibility for the welfare of others, a cordial team spirit, a modest self-appraisal, and a sober lifestyle that stimulated community feeling rather than personal fulfillment of brilliance… They… fulfilled their service obligation as a mission – a peace mission, a human betterment mission rather than an evangelistic outreach campaign.” / Snyder believes Mennonite institutions continue to do a remarkable job of nurturing these qualities, not just in the classroom but in all the ways that Christian service is performed, modeled and taught.

Editor’s note:
This issue of the Bulletin is devoted largely to an in-depth exploration of Mennonite higher education – what makes it distinctive and valuable, who has benefitted from it, why it remains relevant to today’s student and why it endures.

The following feature, “12 Traits of Mennonite Colleges,” originally was published in a longer form in the Spring 2009 issue of Crossroads, the alumni magazine of our sister school Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). This is being published in the Bulletin because the subject matter has great relevance for Goshen College, as it does for all other Mennonite colleges and universities, and for all those who care about their past, present and future.

For their generosity of sharing these excellent and inspiring stories and photographs with us, we thank the following individuals from EMU: President Loren Swartzendruber; Kirk Shisler, vice president for advancement; Andrea Wenger, marketing and communications director; Bonnie Price Lofton, editor/ writer of Crossroads; and Jon Styer, designer/ photographer.

Go to www.emu.edu/crossroads/colleges/ to read and view the full issue of Crossroads about Mennonite higher education.
– Richard R. Aguirre, editor

Faith and politics don’t have to divide

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Faith and Politics

The 2008 presidential campaign was loud, long and angry, with widespread divisions over the candidates’ political, and even religious, beliefs. The simple premise that “faith and politics don’t have to divide us” was the basis of a special Goshen College Web site – www.goshen.edu/election08 – that was created during the 2008 presidential election. Instead of focusing on things that pull us apart, it sought to be a forum of respect, truth seeking and grace. (more…)

2008 Alumni Awards: Culture for Service Awards and the Decade of Servant Leadership Award

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

By Tyler Falk ’09 and Judy Weaver ’81
Photography by Jodi H. Beyeler

During Homecoming Weekend 2008, the college honored four alumni with Culture for Service Awards, named for the college’s motto and initiated in 1989, and one recent alumna with the fourth annual Decade of Servant Leadership Award, which recognizes young alumni who are making significant contributions to their communities, church and world. (more…)

SST at 40: Four decades transforming lives

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Editor’s note: From its modest but revolutionary roots in 1968, Goshen College’s Study-Service Term (SST) has changed the world and transformed lives. The program’s uncommon combination of cultural education, service-learning and everyday life with host families remains a core part of the college’s general education program — and a source of national recognition. The following three articles offer distinct perspectives on SST from the inside out. (more…)