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2013 Mennonite Life marks Bethel College’s 125th year

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN.– The fourth annual online issue of Mennonite Life, now live, focuses on Bethel College’s 125th-anniversary celebration.

The current issue can be viewed at

Articles related to this milestone include Mennonite Life editor Rachel Epp Buller’s interview with Keith Sprunger about the process of writing the recently published history Bethel College of Kansas, 1887-2012, along with a review of the book by Susan Fisher Miller; Sprunger’s exploration of playwright Joseph Kesselring, whose best-known play, Arsenic and Old Lace (staged at Bethel in 2013), is thought to have particular Bethel connections; Epp Buller’s detailing of the special student and faculty alumni art exhibits staged throughout the 2012-13 school year at Bethel; Gary Lyndaker’s look back at Bethel’s legacy of math excellence, marked this year in a celebration of its 1964 “Sweet 16” Putnam competition team; and a major article, based on a Kauffman Museum presentation, by John Thiesen on the history and evolution of Bethel’s threshing stone symbol.

Creative contributions to this issue include graduating Bethel senior Natasha Orpin’s winning 2012 C. Henry Smith Peace Oratory Contest entry, “The Power of Listening,” and a feature on Bethel’s Multicultural Student Union adviser, Caleb Lázaro, accompanied by a very modern treatment of the “Thresher” mascot that Bethel senior Travon Lewis created with Lázaro’s help.

There are also several additional book reviews. Melanie Springer Mock looks at three recently published memoirs that have taken advantage of the growing publish-on-demand movement: James Juhnke’s Small Steps Toward the Missing Peace, Larry W. Nikkel’s Leading and Following: The Path of Service and Berry Friesen’s Water from Another Time: Today’s Questions, Yesterday’s Wisdom.

There are reviews of two more memoirs: Red Quarter Moon: A Search for Family in the Shadow of Stalin by Anne Konrad, reviewed by Christopher Dick, and Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?: A Mennonite Finds Faith, Meets Mr. Right and Solves Her Lady Problems by Rhoda Janzen, reviewed by Stephanie Krehbiel.

The issue also includes Barbara Thiesen’s annual Mennonite bibliography compilation.

Epp Buller, Bethel assistant professor of art, debuts as lead editor with this issue of Mennonite Life, which – even as it focuses largely on Bethel College – marks a new era of intercollegiate cooperation, with Christopher Dick of Tabor College and Karen Sheriff LeVan of Hesston College joining the editorial team.

Epp Buller also announces a transition involving the John Horsch Essay Contest for high school students.

“As past readers will be aware, Mennonite Life has sometimes published the winning essays,” she writes in the “Editor’s Note.” “With the termination of that contest last year, the Mennonite Life board has decided to launch our own contest aimed at high school students.

“The Cornelius Krahn Mennonite Multimedia Contest for High Schoolers will accept research essays as well as creative writing, original websites or videos on themes of Mennonite history, identity and theology, from insider or outsider perspectives. Details on this contest will be released in fall 2013.”

Bethel College began publishing Mennonite Life in 1946. The journal went to online-only in 2000 and to one issue a year in 2010. Mennonite Life is devoted to exploring and developing Mennonite experience, with an intended audience of scholars and academics as well as a wider literate readership interested in Mennonite matters.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2012-13 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is the highest-ranked Kansas college 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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