The monthly breakfast series sponsored by the Anabaptist Center for Religion and Society offer a priceless opportunity to hear the stories of those who have given their lives in service to the church. Each of us is profoundly shaped by our personal histories, and we grow in our understanding of others by hearing their stories.
During my seminary years, I was employed as an admissions coun-selor and associate campus pastor at Eastern Mennonite, and I frequently ate lunch in the faculty-staff lounge in the Administration Building. There I heard my elders philosophize, tell stories, and debate the current is-sues. There was much humor, and tears were occasionally shed. It was a wonderful education for which I paid very little!
Preparing for what I thought would be a career in pastoral ministry, I occasionally asked my mentors, "Where do you get all of the stories that you regularly share with others through sermons and teaching or in the faculty/staff lounge?" They assured me that with life experience would come plenty of stories and that the time would eventually come when deciding what not to share would be the major challenge. Now I understand.
It is surely a challenge for a retired faculty member, administrator, or college president to share his or her story in just an hour over breakfast. One can assume that each one had to make difficult choices about what not to include. In this volume we are given the opportunity to refl ect again on those individual stories, and for that I am grateful.
Eastern Mennonite University and the entire church owe an immense debt of gratitude to each individual willing to openly share signifi cant experiences that formed each one intellectually and spiritually. As for all of us, some life-changing events seemed relatively insignifi cant when they occurred. Placed in the historical context of a longer life, however, we appreciate the power of those events to change the trajectory of one’s journey. We are also reminded of the pervasive experience of unmerited grace transmitted through the community of faith.
God be the glory for the faithfulness of those who have traversed the
land, leaving markings for the next generation’s journeyers. May we
continue to learn from their wisdom!
—Loren Swartzendruber, President Eastern Mennonite University
Copyright © 2009 by Cascadia Publishing House LLC