NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Almost exactly a year ago, Bethel College was completing a successful experiment at the Mennonite Youth Convention in San Jose, Calif.
Instead of spending money on promotional items, staff from Bethel’s admissions, alumni and church relations offices, who co-sponsored the college’s booth in the youth convention display area, decided to emphasize service. Each day for four days, the young people who stopped by Bethel’s booth were invited to leave tickets in a tumbler. Bethel donated a dollar – that would otherwise have gone toward buying giveaway items – for every ticket, up to $1,000 a day, with the total to be divided among three service agencies from the Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference regional area and one youth group, which got to choose its charity. The youth also signed canvas banners to be given to each of the organizations.
On July 11 this year, Dave Linscheid, Bethel’s director of alumni relations, visited Cornerstone Christian Academy in Philadelphia to deliver the last San Jose check. Harrisonburg (Va.) Mennonite Church’s youth group won the fourth-day drawing at the youth convention. They chose to give the money to Cornerstone, the location of their summer service trip this year.
The other recipients of checks from the San Jose fundraiser were Goldensun Peace Ministries, Glendale, Ariz., Hopi Mission School, Kykotsmovi Village, Ariz., and LA Urban Corps, Los Angeles.
Cornerstone Christian Academy began after the 1980 Philadelphia teachers’ strike and subsequent distress in Philadelphia schools, when attorney James Sweet and evangelist Tony Campolo began investing themselves in the lives of children in southwest Philadelphia. The school was born in 1988 with 40 children in grades K-3. It is located in the heart of southwest Philadelphia and has now grown to 230 students in grades K-8.
Cornerstone is one of several mission programs and ministries with which Harrisonburg Mennonite Church has a long-term connection. “They serve at these institutions on a rotating basis,” says Linscheid, “rather than doing one-time service that doesn’t allow relationships to build.”
The group of youth and sponsors, organized by youth pastor Peter Eberly, did volunteer work at Cornerstone July 10-15.
Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.