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Bethel alumna to honor Friesen with special convocation lecture

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- Duane Friesen, professor of Bible and religion at Bethel College, retires in May after 35 years of teaching at the institution. As one way to honor a distinguished career that includes Friesen’s being named Edmund G. Kaufman Professor of Bible and Religion in 2004, there will be a special convocation presentation on April 4.

Jalane Schmidt, a 1991 graduate of Bethel College and currently visiting instructor in religion at Oberlin (Ohio) College, will speak on "From ‘Witchcraft’ to ‘Folklore’: Racial and Religious Hybridity in Afro-Cuban Religions" at 11 a.m. on Monday, April 4, in Krehbiel Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Schmidt is a graduate of Newton High School and is the daughter of Steve and Wanda Schmidt, who now live in La Junta, Colo. She has a bachelor’s degree in Bible and religion from Bethel and a master’s of divinity from Harvard Divinity School. She is completing a doctorate in religion at Harvard University and this summer will defend her Ph.D. dissertation on religious syncretism in Cuba.

Bethel professor of Bible and religion Patty Shelly chose Schmidt to give the lecture honoring Friesen because, she says, "I wanted a Bible and religion graduate from the last 35 years who had been gone [from Bethel] long enough to pursue some career goals, and who was doing something that would appeal to current students.

"I knew that Jalane had spent 18 months living in Cuba and doing field studies in religious syncretism as part of her dissertation research," Shelly continued, "and thought that would have some appeal for a student audience. Jalane is also pursuing a doctorate at Duane’s alma mater, Harvard University, and is following the same academic and teaching career track that Duane chose."

The Bible and religion department is sponsoring Schmidt’s convocation lecture as one of several events during the school year celebrating Duane Friesen’s 35 years at Bethel College. Since he began teaching in 1970, Friesen has worked with almost 100 Bible and religion majors and taught thousands of students in his classes.

A previous event honoring Friesen was a departmental reception last October at Fall Festival. A retirement dinner is scheduled for May 15.

Jalane Schmidt is married to Greg Schmidt Goering ’88, who is completing a Ph.D. in Old Testament at Harvard. They are the parents of two daughters.

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