Mary E. Klassen
A late May event at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary celebrated volunteers and their contribution of nearly 5,000 hours of time to Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary last year.
At the annual spring volunteer recognition event, Jewel Gingerich Longenecker, associate dean for leadership education, reported that 43 volunteers contributed time to the seminary in the previous year. Local volunteers who come regularly or are on call contributed 29 percent of the total, Mennonite Voluntary Service workers contributed 14 percent, and volunteers from outside Indiana who came to campus for brief periods of time contributed 15 percent.
In addition, the seminary has two full-time volunteers: Viri Lopez Navarro coordinates the volunteer program and Elisabeth Brendebach Greig fills the role of student-spouse volunteer, helping wherever needed but primarily with the AMBS Church Leadership Center.
Longenecker told the volunteers that their contribution of time without pay “inspires us, moves us, supports what we do in ways that money can never buy. It demonstrates to us that educating followers of Jesus Christ is worth devoting our lives to.”
She attempted to name the variety of tasks that volunteers do for AMBS and included bringing beauty, creating order, handling information, typing, planting, cooking, serving, trimming, copying, mowing, cleaning, weeding, editing, transcribing, making phone calls, hosting, printing, proofing, painting, building and digging.
Miller Stayrook and Dot Smucker were honored for each contributing more than 1,000 hours over the last five to ten years. Helene Hoover, who has contributed almost 1,000 hours, also was honored because her role is ending.
Honoring Stayrook, Carol Helmuth, food services manager, said, “Whoever has gone through the lunchline at AMBS knows that the man sitting there does far more than take your ticket. He thoroughly enjoys conversations and is a living, walking, breathing storehouse of knowledge.”
Smucker’s role for the last nine years has been with the registrar’s office, helping organize data through a software conversion, scanning approximately 4,500 documents to add to student records, retrieving information from archival records, and other tasks to maintain up-to-date alumni data and to help assure that records are in compliance with accrediting agencies.
Hoover has been the subscription manager for Mission Focus: Annual Review and Religion in Eastern Europe, two journals edited by Walter Sawatsky, retired professor of church history and mission. She was so dedicated that sometimes she took a computer along to family Christmas gatherings, Sawatsky noted in honoring her.
Another volunteer, Don Yoder, passed the 2,000-hour mark in the last year. He was honored at a June 12 gathering because he was not able to attend the May celebration. Yoder, a retired landscape architect, has designed all of the landscaping on the campus and directed the work of establishing rain gardens and native grasses after construction of the library.
“There is an artist at work, often behind the scenes,” Sara Wenger Shenk, AMBS president, said, noting the transformation of the campus over the last nine years under Yoder’s guidance. This transformation and stewarding of God’s good earth is an enormous part of our mission, Wenger Shenk said.
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