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Sarah Unruh ’12

Krahn Contest gives long-running essay competition new lease on life

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A long-running essay contest for students has undergone a remake, name change and move to Bethel College.

When the Mennonite Church USA Historical Committee ended the John Horsch Mennonite History Essay Contest earlier this year, the editorial board of Mennonite Life, Bethel’s annual online historical journal, decided to take responsibility for the competition, with major changes.

The Historical Committee had two main reasons for its decision. One is that essays have become only one medium that secondary, undergraduate and graduate students use to communicate the results of historical research – it is now as common to see an exhibit, a documentary or a website.

The second reason was that the prize money offered had not kept pace with inflation, making it not worthwhile to submit entries. Participation in the contest had been declining for years.

The Horsch Contest would award up to three cash prizes ($100, $75 and $50) in three categories: seminary/graduate school, U.S. or Canada; undergraduate college/university, U.S. or Canada; high school, U.S. or Canada.

The Cornelius Krahn Mennonite Multi-Media Contest for High Schoolers, which has now launched its first competition, will consider entries only from secondary school students in the United States or Canada and will award prizes of $200, $150 and $100.

The work may take the form of essay, creative writing, multi-media (e.g., film, web) or original pieces of art or music on topics related to Mennonite and Anabaptist history, identity or theology.

John Horsch (1867-1941) was a German-American historian, writer and editor who did much to rekindle interest in Anabaptist and Mennonite studies in North America in the 20th century.

Cornelius Krahn (1902-90), also a historian, was of German heritage but born in Russia. After being educated in Europe, he spent a career teaching at Mennonite colleges in Kansas: five years at Tabor College, Hillsboro, and 30 years at Bethel College.

Krahn was the founding editor, in 1946, of Men­nonite Life. For years, he taught a Mennonite History, Life and Thought class at Bethel. Those categories of history, identity and theology are the areas covered by the multi-media contest.

In 2012, the children of Cornelius and Hilda Krahn established a Mennonite Life Endowment Fund in honor of their parents. The fund will provide the contest prize money.

All works must be created during the 2013-14 academic year. Award winners will be published in the 2014 edition of Mennonite Life.

The submission deadline is April 14, 2014. Submissions must be made electronically to Mennonite-life@bethelks.edu.

For more information on submission guidelines, go to ml.bethelks.edu and click the “Krahn Contest” link at the top.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2013-14 Forbes.com analysis of premier colleges and universities in the United States and ranks in the top five “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2013-14. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.