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Three new books with local ties coming to Kauffman Museum

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Fall Festival is the time for special treats at Bethel College – this year at Kauffman Museum that means introducing three new books with local ties.

Swords to Plowshares, by Lisa Weaver, Bluffton, Ohio, is a children’s book that tells a true story of violence turned to hope through the eyes of a fictional boy in 1920s Ukraine. The publisher is Lion and Lamb Peace Center at Bluffton University.

Central to the story is a medallion that Mennonite artist John P. Klassen created from spent bullets.

Klassen, who taught art at Bluffton University for more than 30 years, was born in the Mennonite colony of Chortitza (in what is now Ukraine) in the late 1800s. He found the bullets in Chortitza, where the violence of war and political revolution had left deep scars.

In 1922, recipients of food and relief aid supplies in the villages of Chortitza and Rosenthal gave the medallion as a gift to Mennonite Central Committee leaders. The medallion is now part of the Kauffman Museum collection and will be on display at the museum where the books will be for sale.

Author Lisa Weaver has a local connection as well – her parents-in-law, Edna and George Dyck, live in North Newton.

Local artist Bob Regier, North Newton, also has a new book that will be available at Kauffman Museum starting at Fall Festival.

From Avocet to Yellowthroat: 25 Prairie and Woodland Birds is a collection of some of Regier’s bird illustrations.

For over a decade, fans of these simple yet stunning illustrations, produced as notecards, “have eagerly awaited each new design, often collecting groups of the cards,” said Andi Schmidt Andres, Kauffman Museum curator of education. “Now part of that wait is over.”

Regier has published a small book containing all 25 of his bird illustrations. His description of From Avocet to Yellowthroat: “These illustrations, representing many of my favorite birds, were created on my computer with the use of Freehand software. The illustrations are stylized in my effort to capture their essence in both appearance and behavior.”

Finally, Kauffman Museum will have copies of another new children’s book, Big Brutus, the Kansas Coal Shovel, by Brenda Eck of Goddard in collaboration with her cousin, Marilyn Kuhlman of Maize, and with illustrations by Bethel College senior Jessie Pohl, Moundridge.

Big Brutus is a gigantic electric mining shovel, used to strip-mine coal in the 1960s and ’70s in southeast Kansas.

While not the largest such shovel ever built, Big Brutus is the largest still in existence – 160 feet high and 11 million pounds. It is now the centerpiece for a mining museum in West Mineral, southwest of Pittsburg.

All three books will be available in the Kauffman Museum store beginning Oct. 18, Fall Festival “Fair Day” on the Bethel campus.

“Not only are we excited about introducing our new director, we are excited to have three unique new books for sale,” Schmidt Andres said.

Other special events at Kauffman Museum Oct. 18 include a presentation on climate change and a meet-the-director reception.

At 11 a.m. in the museum auditorium, Thad Miller, a technical writer for LI-COR Biosciences in Lincoln, Nebraska, will present “Measuring the Carbon Cycle 101.”

LI-COR is a leading manufacturer of instruments used to measure photosynthesis and greenhouse gas emissions. Miller will talk about some of these instruments and how they are used.

From 1:30-3 p.m., all are invited to a come-and-go reception for Annette LeZotte, who became Kauffman Museum director in September.

Regular Kauffman Museum hours are 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (extended hours, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. during Fall Festival, Saturday, Oct. 18). The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.

Admission is free during Fall Festival, Thursday through Sunday. Admission during regular hours to the current special exhibit, “Climate and Energy Central: Doing Science in Kansas,” as well as the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture” is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6. For more information, call the museum at 316-283-1612 or visit its website,, or Facebook page.

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.