Grant will enable prairie restoration on campus

Not many people are lucky enough to see history being recreated before their eyes. Now Bethel students will get the chance--and some will even have the opportunity to participate.

Professor of biology Jon K. Piper has more than two decades’ experience in prairie conservation and restoration, first at The Land Institute in Salina and more recently at Bethel. For some time, he says, he has had his eye on about 10 acres of campus property directly east of the Warkentin Court and Voth Hall student residences.

There is already a very small experimental planting plot sandwiched between a baseball diamond and corn planted by a local farmer who leases most of the land for that purpose. Jon would like to see the whole area (all but the ball field and mud volleyball court), which also includes some creekside woodland, turned into a restoration project.

Through the Lawrence-based Kansas Land Trust, Jon learned about the Kingsbury Family Foundation, a private foundation with particular interest in projects aimed at protecting the natural resources of the Great Plains, especially plant and animal habitat. He wrote a proposal to the foundation that he titled “Studies on the Restoration of Two Indigenous Kansas Ecosystems: Oak Woodland and Tallgrass Prairie.” In early July, he learned that his proposal had been accepted and would be receiving $23,782 from the foundation.

Church relations newsletter available online

Bethel’s “Church Relations Update” is now available online (Adobe Reader required, available from www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html).

Dale Schrag, director of church relations, produces the newsletter three times a year for Mennonite Church USA congregational leaders and members. In the past, printed copies were mailed to congregations; now “Church Relations Update” will only be available online.

The summer issue features reflections by interim president John Sheriff on “What does it mean to be an Anabaptist college?” It also includes a look at the required senior-level course, Basic Issues of Faith and Life, by professor of Bible and religion Patty Shelly.

Members of Mennonite congregations are encouraged not only to read the newsletter themselves, but to urge local church leadership to do so, as well. Leaders should also be invited to post a copy on their church bulletin board.

New exhibit will unpack furniture building tradition

Kauffman Museum’s newest permanent exhibit has been in the making for more than 15 years.

“Mennonite Immigrant Furniture” opens to the public on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 1:30 p.m. Based on the museum’s 1991 temporary exhibit of the same name, the new permanent collection contains pieces either brought by immigrant Mennonites in the 1870s or built by their first-generation descendents.

The collection is an official project of Save America’s Treasures, a partnership between the White House Millennium Council and the National Trust for Historic and National Preservation. Since its creation in 1998, Save America’s Treasures has identified historic places, artifacts and documents in need of immediate preservation. “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture” is one of only seven designated Save America’s Treasures projects in Kansas.

The exhibit showcases 29 surviving handcrafted pieces, including dowry chests, clocks, cradles and wardrobes ranging from pre-1790 to 1910. Many of the pieces are large and sturdy, constructed of ash or pine. The builders added decorative touches using inlaid veneer, paint or satin. For a more personal touch, they often marked the largest pieces with dates and the names or initials of the owner or maker.

Establishment of this new permanent exhibit has been made possible in part by the Kauffman Museum Association; the Institute of Museum Library Services, a federal agency that fosters innovation, leadership and lifetime learning; the Herbert Funk Family; and the Kansas Humanities Council, which promotes understanding of the history, traditions and ideas that shape our lives and communities.

The exhibit will be a highlight of this year’s Fall Festival activities at the museum.

Fall Fest to feature inaugural events

Fall Festival 2006 will feature the inauguration of Barry Bartel ’84 as Bethel’s 13th president. The public in invited to the inaugural ceremony and several related events.

A “Meet the President” reception is scheduled for 1:30-3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7. The event is an opportunity for alumni and friends of the college to greet and welcome Barry and his wife Brenda (Isaak) Bartel ’84. The reception will be held in Bethel’s newest meeting room, known as The Meeting Place and located in the northeast corner on the ground floor of the Administration Building. The Bethel College Women’s Association redecorated the room as a gift to the college. It includes new furniture as well as a refurbished table and cabinets from the Old Science Hall.

An inauguration worship service will take place at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 8, in Jolliffe Auditorium in Memorial Hall. Everyone is invited to the time of worship, a joint service of Bethel College and Bethel College Mennonite Church (BCMC). The program will include singing; reflections and readings by students, faculty and special guests; the combined Bethel College Concert Choir and BCMC Chancel Choir; and the BCMC Bell Choir.

The inauguration will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 8, also in Memorial Hall. The inaugural address will be given by Ronald Mathies, former executive director of Mennonite Central Committee who is currently the Rodney and Lorna Sawatsky Visiting Scholar at Conrad Grebel University College in Ontario. President Bartel will offer a response. A Bethel brass ensemble and the Concert Choir will provide music. A reception on The Green will follow (Schultz Student Center if rain).