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Bethel community responds to tragedies at Tabor, McPherson

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN – Bethel College students, faculty and staff took a few minutes out of convocation Sept. 24 to remember their counterparts at two sister schools – Tabor College in Hillsboro and McPherson College.

Brandon Brown, 26, Sacramento, Calif., died Saturday night, Sept. 22, at Via Christi Hospital-St. Francis in Wichita. He was a Tabor College junior and a defensive lineman for the Tabor Bluejays, a transfer from Santa Ana Community College.

Brown suffered severe injuries in an altercation in the early hours of Sept. 16 at a residence in McPherson. Officers responding to the scene found Brown lying by a street, unconscious and unresponsive. He was air-lifted to Via Christi.

Alton Franklin, 19, of Dallas, was arrested Sept. 22 in connection with aggravated battery in the incident and is being held in the McPherson County Jail. He will likely face additional charges after Brown’s death.

Franklin was listed as a sophomore linebacker on the McPherson College football team at the start of the 2011 season but does not appear on the 2012 roster.

Bethel Campus Pastor Dale Schrag spoke briefly about the incident at the beginning of the Sept. 24 convocation. He noted that McPherson College was also grieving a second tragedy – the death yesterday, Sept. 23, of Paul Ziegler, a freshman tennis player and business major from Elizabethtown, Pa., in a bicycle accident.

Schrag led the assembly in a short prayer for the McPherson and Tabor college communities, asking God “to wrap your arms of compassion around them,” as well as the family of Brandon Brown.

“Help us to be a small part of those arms of compassion,” Schrag continued. “We pray for healing and hope to emerge from the oppressive cloud of grief and loss hanging over” the two campuses.

Schrag passed around Krehbiel Auditorium two prayer shawls that had been knitted by Heart and Hands Ministry, a prayer shawl group in which Tricia Lopez, administrative assistant in the social work and teacher education departments, is active.

The shawls will be sent to McPherson and Tabor to help convey the thoughts and prayers of the Bethel College community in a tangible way.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2012-13 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 2012-13. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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