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Bethel College honors Young Alumni Award recipients

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. - "To see one's job as a calling is to feel that you are in the place God wants you to be," alumnus Paul Schrag told students after the Bethel College Alumni Association honored him and Wendy Funk Schrag at the Bethel College Young Alumni Award Convocation March 3 on campus. The Schrags, both 1986 graduates and residents of Newton, presented speeches on the topic "Vocation as a Calling" in which they described how they see their chosen work as "an extension of God's activity in the world."

As editor of Mennonite Weekly Review, Paul Schrag finds his sense of call in serving the church. "I've sometimes described our newspaper's role as keeping one eye on the church and one on the world."

His career provides him the opportunity to write about events and issues that he cares about. "Perhaps caring deeply about one's work is a sign that your vocation is a calling," Paul Schrag said.

He believes that journalism's most important purpose is to learn and record the truth. "The task of truth-telling is an activity with a religious dimension even if many people in the media might not recognize that," he said.

Paul Schrag challenged the students to be "life-long seekers of truth and bearers of good news. All vocations need people of faith who have found the place where their work connects with God's activity in the world," he said. While his own calling as a journalist is tied to the church, he recognizes that careers in the secular field can also be callings. Wendy Funk Schrag's work lies there.

"We are drawn to where we should be," Wendy Funk Schrag said. "Everyday I am able to offer joy to someone in a time of need or sorrow."

She described her work as a dialysis social worker, patient services manager with Renal Care Group, and president of the National Kidney Foundation Council for Nephrology Social Workers. "Social workers learn early on that the human being is very complicated," she said. She acknowledged the values of the social work profession, such as respect for diversity and allowing the client to make his/her own choices. "Social work is all about starting where the client is at and letting the client determine the pace of the work."

Her advice to the students was to be "forward-thinking, to take risks and embrace change." For her that has meant overseeing research projects, developing materials and new programs, training social workers, coordinating surveys, writing, reading and speaking for her profession. "Life is busy when your vocation is your calling," she said.

Wendy Funk Schrag challenged the students to "live out not only the knowledge that you have learned at Bethel but the values Bethel has taught you as well."

The Schrags were also honored at a reception and luncheon on campus. Later in the day Wendy Funk Schrag made a presentation to social work majors and graduates, and Paul Schrag spoke to journalism students.

Information about the Schrags

Wendy Funk Schrag completed her bachelor's degree in social work at Bethel, received her master's degree in social work from the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare in 1990 and attended Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind. She is a dialysis social worker and patient services manager with Renal Care Group, a provider of dialysis services for more than 25,000 patients across the country. She is president of the National Kidney Foundation Council of Nephrology Social Workers, a frequent speaker at professional meetings and has had articles published in professional journals.

An English major at Bethel College, Paul Schrag attended the University of Kansas and Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind. Continuing a three-generation family tradition that began in 1925, he is editor of Mennonite Weekly Review (MWR), an independent, inter-Mennonite newspaper. Based in Newton, MWR has 10,000 subscribers nationwide. Schrag has written more than 450 editorials and also reported from Kenya, Zimbabwe and India for MWR and for Meetinghouse, the association of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ publications. As chair of Meetinghouse, he will coordinate the coverage by Meetinghouse editors at the Mennonite World Conference assembly in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, next August.

The Schrags have two daughters, Abigail and Rebecca. The family attends First Mennonite Church, Newton.

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.