African-American Alumni Association awards first endowed scholarship

For the first time, Bethel College’s African-American Alumni Association (AAAA) was able to present an endowed scholarship to a deserving Bethel student.

Travon Lewis, freshman from Houston, Texas, is the first scholarship recipient.

The AAAA established an endowment fund in 2005, after several years of discussion at AAAA reunions and meetings. The idea for the fund arose from the AAAA’s desire to be more involved in the Bethel community and to support students “of African-American heritage,” as stated in the scholarship guidelines.

The group raised funds through donations from alumni, class gifts and fundraising events including a regular Fall Festival booth, a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day program and portions of book sales.

The latter came from two books by AAAA’s immediate past president Sammie Simmons of Newton. He decided to donate a percentage of the sales of his books of poetry, “New Beginnings” and “Tall Grass Prairie Offering Praise,” to the endowment fund.

The other major fundraiser for the endowment came from the January 2010 Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at Bethel. An offering taken at an evening program that featured a friend and co-worker of King’s, Dr. Vincent Harding of Denver, helped complete the goal of $10,000 needed for the endowment to fund its first scholarship.

Although the AAAA decided to give responsibility for deciding the recipient to Bethel’s financial aid office, the association did get to say what type of scholarship it should be and offer some insight into who should get it.

“We wanted to make sure it was given to someone who needed it,” Simmons said. “There was some discussion on: ‘Do we give it to a first-year, to someone who has been here for a while, to someone who is in the organization or in the multicultural group?’”

The financial aid office decided on Lewis, who said he feels very lucky and blessed to receive the scholarship.

“I think it’s a great honor … to receive the award,” Lewis said. “It means it was a blessing from God and only through him was this possible.”

Simmons hopes the scholarship will help the AAAA have more of a presence on campus and in the life of students.

“The biggest thing as far as expectations for our organization is that we are an active part of the Bethel community,” Simmons said. “We just want to let people know that we’re part of the community and we’re going to continue to be part of the community.”

Nursing faculty members honor deaconesses through service project

Six members of Bethel’s nursing faculty recently took time out from a faculty meeting to do a local service project. Their work honored the service of women who devoted their lives to the nursing profession at Bethel Deaconess Hospital (BDH), site of the nurses’ training program that was the forerunner of the Bethel College nursing program. Known as deaconesses, BDH nurses helped train future nurses in a hospital setting.

Members of the community had contacted Phyllis Miller, director of the college’s nursing program, to express concern about the condition of the gravestones of the former deaconesses buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Newton. They asked if someone associated with the current program could clean the gravestones. Over the years, bushes near the graves had been allowed to grow over the sites and the gravestones themselves had seen the effects of dirt, pollen, mold and mossy growth. Cemetery staff had recently trimmed the bushes, improving the appearance of the area. All that was left was to clean the stones.

So, on Wednesday, Oct. 13 -- a beautiful fall morning -- the group adjourned their faculty meeting early and, armed with buckets, brushes and ammonia solution, set out to tackle the cleaning of just over 30 gravestones. The group made quick work of the task and was satisfied to see their results.

“While a rather simple service project, it was also a way for the faculty to honor the deaconesses who had gone before them, many in nursing faculty roles just as themselves,” Miller said.

Other members of the faculty who scrubbed and polished were Peggy Hernandez, associate professor of nursing; Nancy Lugo-Baez, Sarah Masem and Geri Tyrell, instructors of nursing; and Sharon Unruh, assistant director of nursing.

The BDH School of Nursing operated from 1908 to 1974. The Bethel College nursing program began admitting students in 1980.

Bethel wishes you a blessed Christmas

Advent is here and the Bethel campus community brings you Christmas greetings online.

Please follow the link and enjoy a photo of Bethel’s Administration Building dressed in snow. Robert Regier ’52, professor emeritus of art, took the photo and Audra Miller, Bethel sophomore, designed the card. You’ll hear the 2009 Bethel College Concert choir sing “Gloria” by Randol Bass.

May the God of hope fill you with joy this Christmas season!

Merry and Bright: “Five Places of Christmas” event planned for Dec. 4

Holiday merriment is the theme for the annual “Five Places of Christmas” to be held Saturday, Dec. 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Newton and North Newton.

The joint open house will be hosted by the Bethel College Women’s Association (BCWA), Carriage Factory Gallery, Harvey County Historical Museum, Kauffman Museum and Warkentin House. The event is free and open to the public.

Each of the five historical and cultural organizations will feature holiday decorating ideas, unique shopping opportunities and special entertainment.

Now in its eighth year, the “Five Places of Christmas” has become a local holiday tradition. Said Jennifer Mueller of the Newton Convention and Visitors Bureau, “The ‘Five Places of Christmas’ provide a warmhearted event that kicks off December with lots of bright merriment, for local residents and out-of-town visitors alike.”

Bethel College Goerz House

BCWA will again host their annual holiday bake sale in Goerz House. Bethel President Perry White and Dalene White will greet visitors and are inviting guests to tour the Queen Anne-style house that now serves as the president’s residence.

BCWA was instrumental in restoring and furnishing the 1893 home. This year BCWA has decorated the house with Victorian-era antiques for “An Old-Fashioned Christmas.” BCWA members are famous for homemade holiday treats including zwieback and peppernuts from the Russian Mennonite tradition. “Come early for the best selection!” advised BCWA president Donna Becker.

Kauffman Museum

The open house at Kauffman Museum will feature the newest special exhibition “KANSAS: Kids At Northridge Sharing Art and Story.” The collaborative exhibition features Kansas-themed projects created by Northridge Elementary School students.

The theme of “A Kansas Kid’s Christmas” continues in the Kauffman Museum Store, with a unique selection of gifts that fit the museum’s mission to tell the story of the prairie and settlement. Museum director Rachel Pannabecker added, “New this year will be a vintage Christmas market with holiday decorations from a local estate. Come early for fabulous prices on gently used ornaments.” Museum staff and volunteers will serve cider and homemade cookies.

Bringing in the Season: Bethel, area musicians to present “Lessons and Carols” Dec. 5

Bethel College and area musicians will collaborate for an event on campus meant to usher in the Advent and Christmas seasons -- and the community is invited.

A “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” will take place in Memorial Hall Sunday, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. Bethel College vocalists and instrumentalists, along with singers from the Newton Chorale, First Presbyterian, First United Methodist and Trinity United Methodist Churches in Newton, Bethel College Mennonite Church in North Newton, Grace Hill Mennonite Church in rural Newton, First Mennonite Church of Christian in Moundridge and Hope Mennonite Church in Wichita, will join with the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra for a Christian worship service that has a long tradition in Great Britain.

The Newton Ministerial Alliance is also participating in the service and asks people to bring non-perishable food items to be collected for the Harvest of Love campaign to stock the Newton food pantry. There will also be an offering taken.

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is the format for a service of Christian worship that celebrates the birth of Jesus. It is traditionally followed at Christmas.

Mark your calendar for Fall Festival 2011 and 2012

In 2011 and 2012, Bethel College Fall Festival will occur on the second Saturday of the month rather than the first Saturday.

In 2011, the Fall Fest fair on campus will be Oct. 8. When Bethel celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2012, it will be Oct. 13.

Next year marks 25 years of cooperation between Bethel College and the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce to put on Taste of Newton, the annual kick-off to Fall Festival weekend. The event will take place Thursday evening, Oct. 6, 2011, and Oct. 11, 2012.

The date for Fall Festival is determined by the first home football game in October (or last home game in September, if necessary), as scheduled by the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.